Dr. Lori VanLeer

Washington School Board members had the opportunity last week to visit the middle school, meeting with students and sitting in classrooms.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said several board members had expressed interest in scheduling “walk-throughs” in various school buildings since they don’t always have an opportunity to get inside the schools.

“I thought it was a great idea and we started with the middle school last Tuesday,” VanLeer said. “I plan to schedule more in the future.”

Three board members participated in the first walk-through — board President Scott Byrne, Todd Geisert and Trish Mitchell. They were joined by VanLeer, Rachael Franssen, special services director, and the middle school administration.

“Twelve middle school students helped conduct the tour and provided explanation of different classes and activities,” VanLeer said. “It was great for the board members to meet the kids, see various parts of the building, learn about the student/teacher teams and even be there for a class change.”

The tour lasted about two hours, she said, and the group then gathered to discuss how district officials conduct walk-throughs and how those findings are used to develop a facility capital improvement list, as well as safety checklist.

Board members also could ask questions of the administration and the school resource officer.

“They had some really good questions — it was a good discussion,” VanLeer said.

Board members also had the opportunity to stop in some of the classrooms, she said, to watch instruction and student learning.

“They weren’t there to judge, but really develop an awareness of what goes in our classrooms every day,” VanLeer said. “That also led to discussions about instruction and how we do our assessments.”

Being in the hallway when students switched classes also was eye opening, she added, because there is no “extra space” at the middle school.

“We talked about space needs and they had a chance to see that firsthand,” she said.

VanLeer said with the April board election quickly approaching and the board makeup changing, she won’t hold another walk-through until the end of the year or the beginning of next school year.

“I definitely want the board to visit an elementary site and the high school,” she said. “I think it gives board members a different perspective.”