PSU alum Sidney Ong leads school improvement effort

Lot Witcomb Elementary School was one of seven schools statewide recently honored with a Celebrating Student Success Award by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). The ODE is rewarding schools that have made remarkable academic progress toward closing the Achievement Gap with this program.

“It’s made the kids unbelievably happy,” says Principal Sydney Ong, MS ’99, IAL/CAL ‘10. “They just see this as a great thing. And we’ve focused on them and we’ve told them that because of the work they do, because of them, the school would not have won. And that’s important because that’s what they need to do for their academic career. It’s a big plus.”

For several years staff in this North Clackamas School have been working to find ways to improve student success. Eighty-two percent of students at Lot Witcomb qualify for free and reduced lunch, and almost half speak a language other than English at home. Principal Ong opened school last year with a staff book study using the book, “Learning to Trust,” by Marilyn Watson. The book and subsequent discussions inspired teachers to view students in a new way. “Kids felt empowered in their classrooms and they began to talk in terms of community,” says Mr. Ong.

Lot Witcomb has multiple programs and partnerships in place to support students and families, including community projects, a Child and Family Enrichment (CAFÉ) program for extended day services, and a nutrition program that serves not only school lunch, but often provides breakfast, dinners, and weekend snacks as well.

Mr. Ong’s development team focuses on professional development for all staff and uses data-driven instructional practices. Teachers are trained in Guided Language Acquisition Development (GLAD) or Sheltered Instruction Operation Protocol (SIOP). Students have demonstrated impressive yearly increases in reading and mathematics over the last four years.

Congratulations Principal Ong and Lot Witcomb!

Read more on the Oregon Department of Education website.

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