The Career Connected Learning Revolution

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When I met Governor Jay Inslee last month with the seventh graders from St. John School, the Governor told us that “education is the investment that will have the single biggest impact on our future.” It therefore wasn’t a surprise when I heard the Governor say yesterday that Washington is “a great state to launch a revolution in career connected learning.” He went on to outline his intention to lead the country in this effort, creating the best career connected learning (CCL) curriculum in the US. “While others are talking about it,” the Governor said, “We’ll be doing it.”

What is CCL? At its core, it’s about better connecting our education system with a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse job sector – with a focus on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) education. I got a crash course in CCL and participated in discussions about how to launch this revolution at this week’s Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning, a statewide conference attended by nearly 1000 people from education, industry and government across dozens of locations in Washington.

Anne Nelson from the Department of Commerce recommended I attend this summit because its goals closely align with ProjectWA. Over the past year and a half, we’ve been working to connect students in the classroom with the community around them. With technology as a lure, we’ve engaged students in civics, history, economics and storytelling – helping solve real community problems in the process and hopefully better preparing these students for the 21st century workforce. With apps like Washington State Insider, St. John Explorer or the Monuments Project, these students have done real work that’s benefitting the world around them.

At the Governor’s Summit, Chris Reykdal, Washington State Superintendent, pointed out that we spend $3 billion annually on high school education, yet only 50 percent of students ever set foot on a college campus. He wasn’t necessarily implying that we need to increase that percentage. Reykdal’s point was that there are many routes to a career, and our education system needs to do a better job of providing “meaningful pathways to the world of work.”  STEM jobs don’t always require a four-year college degree.

How do we restructure our education system to create better connections and clearer paths between education and industry? The Governor has launched a CCL taskforce, and we were introduced to a policy framework for expanding learning opportunities to all young people. It focuses on developing a public-private partnership to create a career-ready education system through more training and resources, more externships, expanded CCL access to rural and underserved communities, stronger mentorship programs and helping students plan earlier for what happens after high school.

I’ve met with several innovative schools across Washington State, who are taking innovative approaches to learning and creating connections between students and the business community. College Place High School in Walla Walla County takes a project-based approach, making sure students graduate with a solid “fifth” year plan to be productive citizens in a global economy. Riverpoint Academy a STEM+Entrepreneurial high school in Spokane has students take on real-world challenges, working with professionals from the community.

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Riverpoint Academy in Spokane’s Mead School District

What impressed me most about the Governor’s Summit is that it covered both theory and action. There was a big focus on walking away with very specific actions that each individual will take to implement the new CCL framework. A summit participant at my table came up with the idea of using the 468 Field Trip platform to create a guide for students to all the STEM-related businesses in the community. We’re meeting next week to see how we can implement that plan.

I left the Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning inspired and even more energized to help take a new approach to education. The revolution has started. Whether you’re in education, industry or government, you can play a role in that.

Five Lessons from a Two-Month Tour of Washington State

In mid-June, from the northern tip of Lopez Island, my family and I drove our ProjectWA-branded RV onto a Washington State Ferry to begin a two-month exploration of the Evergreen State. After reflecting on our 2000-mile adventure, I would like to share a few of the lessons we took away from the experience.

1. We can live on less. Much less.

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There’s nothing like living for two months with three other humans in a 24-foot motorhome to remind you of how little we really need to survive. With no room for excess, everything was a ration: food, water, power, clothes and personal space. In some ways, all these constraints made daily life easier. With only the color of the day’s ProjectWA t-shirt to decide on, getting dressed was pretty straightforward. Bathing not so much. I regularly wondered by what order of magnitude my water consumption fell by being limited to 3-minute showers in state parks.

As we crisscrossed the state, we learned about the constraints under which people before us lived – long before the invention of the RV. When pioneers arrived via the Oregon Trail, everything they owned was packed into a four-foot-by-nine-foot covered wagon. Before American and European settlers showed up in the Pacific Northwest, native tribes maintained a much smaller footprint. Even the large plank houses of the Makah were a lot smaller than today’s average American home.

I’m not about to compare our RV lifestyle to that of the original peoples or American pioneers. After all, our motorhome was equipped with a microwave oven. No matter how one does it, I encourage everybody to force themselves to live on less for an extended period. The world would be a different place if everybody had to deposit 25 cents after every minute in the shower.

2. Washington state’s water has changed the world.

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One look at Washington state on the map shows that water defines our existence – from the mouth to the Columbia to the upper reaches of Lake Roosevelt. This summer we learned how water dramatically changed the way of life for not only the inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest, but also the world. The Missoula Floods of the last Ice Age gave us the unique landscape we know today. David Thompson’s 12-day, 500-mile canoe trip down the Columbia River in 1811 helped create a global economy by completing a trade route across North America to Asia and Europe and back.

The hundreds of dams placed along our rivers over the past century transformed agriculture in the state and created a source of electricity that helped produce the first atomic bomb at Hanford. Those same dams wiped hundreds of small towns off the map and eliminated salmon runs that had been in place for millennia. Today, some of those dams – like the Elwha River Dam – are being removed, leading to even more dramatic changes to the ecosystems surrounding them. Some of the most significant events in world history can be linked to the water that flows through Washington state.

3. Washington is incredibly diverse.

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By many measures, Washington state has to be one of the most diverse states in the U.S. During our summer tour, we saw almost every type of land formation, body of water and climate imaginable. We started and ended our trip on a ferry navigating through the many islands dotting the Salish Sea. We drove through mountain passes in the north, south, east and west – usually with snow-capped peaks towering above us. We camped on lake shores, river banks and ocean beaches. We hiked through the arid hills of the Palouse, the dry desert of central Washington and the wet trails of the Olympic Rainforest. The chore of breaking camp was always exciting because we knew we were about to travel through an area that was radically different from the one in which we’d been staying.

Though statistically not the most ethnically diverse state in the union, Washington is made up of people from every background – from the Volga Germans of Ritzville to the Makah of Neah Bay. With our road trip falling during the major parties’ election year conventions, we passed by countless yard signs reminding us of the political extremes that exist in Washington state. If you want a sense of just how diverse this country is – on every level – I strongly encourage you to travel from one side of Washington to the other.

4. This land doesn’t belong to us.

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“ProjectWA” almost seemed like a misnomer by the end of the summer. Most of what we experienced during our trip reminded us that the vast majority of this region’s heritage dates back long before 1889, when Washington became the 42nd state. U.S. citizens are newcomers here, and we have a lot to learn from the people who occupied this land for thousands of years before David Thompson took his canoe down the Columbia River. For instance, before the creation of Lake Roosevelt that flooded the Kettle Falls, Native Americans figured out how to fish sustainably – allowing large numbers of salmon to spawn upriver before the first fish was plucked from the falls every year. The Makah practiced sustainable whaling for 1500 years, using every part of a whale for subsistence, before unsustainable whaling by other cultures placed whales on the endangered species list.

Yes, there is so much to learn and be proud of from the past 200 years. But no examination of Washington state is complete without an understanding of who inhabited this region before its “discovery” just a few hundred years ago. When you’re in Northeastern Washington, look up Joe Barreca, president of the The Heritage Network. And the next time you’re on the Olympic Peninsula, pay a visit to Kirk Wachendorf at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. What you’ll learn from them is that this land doesn’t belong to us as much as we belong to the land.

5. We should invest in a heritage economy.

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Washington state’s secondary highways are the Main Streets of so many small towns, and it seems like our ProjectWA RV drove through most of them this summer. Unless one stops and looks around, it’s easy to put all of these communities into the same category: towns that peaked sometime in the 20th century and have been in decline since losing a major industry – usually one based on a natural resource such as timber, mining, farming or fishing.

When we did stop to investigate, Team ProjectWA quickly discovered a gold mine just below the surface of these small communities: their unique heritage. Whether it’s the baptismal font installed without a drain, the insider trading that established a county, or the haunted hospital on the hill, the stories of these towns run deep. With a little creativity, like what Colfax has done with its ghost hunts, a new heritage-based economy can emerge to supplement or replace the industries that allowed these communities to thrive in years past.

Creating a heritage economy isn’t about building more museums. It requires engaging people in the community’s unique history in a way that makes them want to stick around and explore more. Doing so is of course easier said than done. Community leaders must find a new way of doing things and challenge old assumptions. In Colfax, Val Gregory turned her town’s greatest weakness, abandoned buildings, into a strength: revenue-generating ghost tours.

Given its presence in our daily lives, technology should play a role in a heritage economy. What a group of Lopez Island middle schoolers and I did with Washington State Insider is just one use of technology to showcase history and drive exploration. Spokane Historical, created by EWU students, is a great mobile app and website that tells the stories of Spokane and Eastern Washington. Lake Chelan is placing interactive kiosks around the state to grab travelers’ attention. And, we all saw how Pokémon Go got people exploring all kinds of places this summer.  Regardless of how it’s done, the key to maximizing the return on a community’s historical assets is to make its heritage relevant to a new generation.

Our ProjectWA summer will not be soon forgotten. After traveling more than 2000 miles around this state, my family received much more than a history lesson. We became deeply connected to our home and inspired to make “old” things new again. The “Evergreen State” moniker has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Team ProjectWA

New Heights for Providence Heights?

By Shayna G., Lopez Island Middle School Student

The 1960s were an important time in history for both women and the Catholic Church. Women were finally beginning to gain more rights and opportunities when it came to their professions. Up until then, women had very few choices of professions to choose from, where as men had seemingly endless choices.

Women of the Catholic Church had even fewer choices than their secular counterparts due to their education. In high school, young women training to be nuns learned about the Catholic Church along with their regular high school curriculum. After graduation, these nuns would only learn about the Catholic Church. In the 1950s and 1960s, this began to change as the Church came to the realization that their nuns in training needed more knowledge than what they learned about Catholicism.

The Sister Foundation came to the conclusion that one solution to this problem would be to build and open a college where women studying to be nuns could take regular college classes such as chemistry, math, and literacy, in addition to their religious studies. The college they opened was called as Providence Heights College in Issaquah, WA.

Providence Heights Campus is located on a beautiful plateau in Issaquah, surrounded by farmland. The Sister Foundation spent 6 million dollars to build the entire campus before is was opened in 1961. They spent extra money for quality building materials and design.

Perhaps the most expensive part of the campus is the center cathedral; which has fourteen 33-foot-tall stained glass windows that weigh approximately one ton each. The windows were the work of Gabriel Lore, a world renowned French stained glass artist. Lore had a very unique art style because he crafted one-inch-thick glass chunks into beautiful, modern designs – instead of imitating classic stained glass windows. Gabriel Lore passed away 20 years ago. There will never again be art pieces exactly like these windows.

After opening, Providence Heights College thrived for about five years. Thousands of women were registering for the college. This began to change as women started to have more rights and job opportunities that they were previously denied. Some women felt they didn’t need to become nuns as other professions became available to them. As more and more women came to this realization, fewer began to sign up for Providence Heights College. Only eight years after the college’s opening, there were so few women attending the college that it didn’t make economic sense to keep the college open. It was shut down in 1969.

Since its closing, the college has remained mostly vacant. It briefly served as an Issaquah preschool and a meeting place for local organizations. Although the campus is currently not being used, many residents of Issaquah believe that the campus would serve wonderfully as either a community center, a school, or a meeting place for different organizations. Because the Sister Foundation spent the extra money on quality building materials, the campus is still intact and in great condition. In fact, the campus is in such great condition that Steve Thues, outreach manager of the Sammamish Heritage Society says: “It’s almost a turn-key school as it is. You could probably go in and start teaching classes here this week.”

Despite the fact that the campus is in such great condition and has never been remodeled, making it a great example of 1960s architecture, there has still been plans filed with the city of Issaquah for the entire campus to be leveled and replaced with 133 modern homes. If these plans come to fruition, not only will a historic, non replaceable cathedral be destroyed, but also part of Issaquah’s history will be lost forever.

Although there are organizations working to have the campus demolished, there are also many people working to preserve the campus. Local city residents and preservation groups such as the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and the Sammamish Heritage Society, are working to save the historic campus.

An example of a local Issaquah resident working to save the campus is Ella Moore. Moore is the president of the Sammamish Heritage Society and has been a Sammamish resident for fifty years. “This is too unique to be destroyed,” she said. “We need those things up here because it’s development crazy and the children and all peoples need to know that there was history here on the plateau; and this is a prime example.”

Providence Heights Campus represents an important time in history for both women and the Catholic Church. Although the campus is not even a century old, it’s still an important historic site in Washington  State, and it contains an irreplaceable center cathedral with the work of a world famous stained glass artist. If this whole campus is leveled all these things will be lost.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation website says that if you want to help take part in the potential preservation of Providence Heights Campus, you can contact the City of Issaquah and ask that city officials require the developer to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. If required, an EIS would compel the developer to consider alternatives to demolition and would provide critical time to identify potential preservation-friendly uses for the site.

To learn more go to http://preservewa.org/news134.aspx or download the Washington State Insider app when it launches in mid-June.

 

Stone Houses

By Sonnette R., Lopez Island Middle School Student

During the Great Depression, Clint Dobson, a businessman in LaCrosse, Washington, built several houses out of basalt stone because he didn’t have enough money for other materials. The stone houses were built between 1934 and 1936 from rocks out of the fields in Lacrosse. These buildings are very unique for this time period, and they attract many tourists and photographers.

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The basalt stones in the Lacrosse fields were created by the repeated flooding from Lake Missoula over thousands of years. This shaped the area of Lacrosse, including nearby Palouse Falls.

Palouse Falls

According to Lacrosse local, Peggy Bryan, “the unique geological events of the Missoula floods combined with the unique construction of these depression-era basalt stone structures provide an important and historically significant preservation opportunity that is well worth pursuing.” Protecting this historical monument would provide “a great educational opportunity.”

The LaCrosse community’s goal is to have a Missoula Floods/Ice Age museum in the old gas station that was made out of stone. According to Bryan, this would “add value to our community, both economically and culturally.”

LaCrosse Stone Station

LaCrosse Community Pride is working with the WSU School of Design and Construction’s Rural Communities Design Initiative on this project. Community input was facilitated and conceptual designs have been developed for the incorporation of a visitor center in the museum. There are five other rock structures on the property that could provide many opportunities, including artist retreats, a farming museum, local gift shops, tasting rooms, and bed and breakfasts, among others.

Originally, the stone houses were used as rental units by local farmhands, workers, and railroad crews. Clint Dobson operated the service station and repair shop for many years until Hank Pile took over, operating the station and houses until the 1960s.

Today two houses, three cabins, and the service station are still standing. The buildings are important because they bring visitors to the area. Lacrosse Community Pride is focused on preventing these structures from being torn down.

To learn more about the LaCrosse Stone Houses, find them in the Washington State Insider app (available mid-June 2016). When you visit, you’ll earn points that will get you a discount at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

 

Saving Enloe Dam

By Ava F., Lopez Island Middle School Student

Last year my dad and I took a trip to Eastern Washington on vacation. One stop on our trip was a waterfall on the Similkameen River near the town of Oroville. While walking to the falls, we passed several abandoned buildings along the river’s edge. I was curious about these buildings, and this year in Northwest History class I was able to get some answers about their history.  What I have learned is that the buildings I passed that day are what remains of the Enloe Dam, a dam that provided power to the surrounding community in the early 1900s. I also learned that the Enloe Dam is one of the Most Endangered Historic Properties in Washington State.

Similkameen River

Enloe Dam is a small rundown power plant placed next to a beautiful waterfall. The Similkameen River provided power to the area starting in 1907. The powerhouse we know today as Enloe Dam was built using local brick in the 1920s by Eugene Enloe. The town of  Oroville relied on Enloe for its power and electricity until the 1950s, when Bonneville Power started provided cheaper and more efficient electricity to the area.

The Enloe Dam has seen better days. Not many people can see what it was once used for, as it is now rundown and very much abandoned. The building itself was very sturdy until vandals started to destroy it.

Enloe Dam Powerhouse

The history of this Dam was built by the men and women who worked there. Without them there would be no Enloe Dam, and the people in the surrounding towns would not have power. This Dam faces the terrifying truth of extinction. With Enloe being so remote, there does not seem like there could be a lot of use for the building. Some people think this could be turned into a museum or even a rest area for travelers coming through the area.

The communities surrounding Enloe Dam and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation are trying to save it. I encourage you to visit the Dam. You can find it in the Washington State Insider app (available mid-June).

Enloe Dam

Relocating the Dvorak Barn

By Mallory Q., Lopez Island Middle School Student

The Dvorak Barn on 22274 Russell Rd in Kent, WA represents the area’s agricultural heritage. It is slated to be torn down to make way for a levee that will be going through the farm on which it sits. I hate this. Do you know why I hate this? I hate this because the Dvorak barn has an intriguing history.

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The Dvorak Barn on 22274 Russell Rd in Kent, WA

One of the earliest settlers of the Kent Valley, David A. Neely, was the recipient of a Homestead Land Grant for the area that became a 320-acre farm. Built in 1906, the Neely’s home preceded the barn, which was built in 1925. This is interesting because the house acted as the first post office for the first postmaster in Kent. Not only did they deliver the mail, they helped Kent become the lettuce capital of Washington State. Pretty cool, huh?

The farm flourished due to their lead in hops, corn, lettuce and onions – until eventually modern times caught up with them. The Neelys were doing well with their farm and post office, until the postmaster, David A. Neely, passed away. He passed his farm onto one of his eight children, James Neely.

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A hops farming family in early Kent

Interstate 5 eventually had to be built. As it expanded, it ran through Kent Valley, eliminating a lot of the farming land in the area. The barn closed because of the new highway. The result: an awesome little bit of history fell into disrepair.  Now with the levee needing to run through the farm, all buildings on that stretch of land will need to be torn down or moved.

Over time, all the farms in the Kent Valley have disappeared as warehouses have sprung up over the past 50 years. This started with the construction of the Boeing Space Center in the 60s. Within the past few months, Amazon.com opened a massive distribution center. Kent, once known for agriculture, has become the 4th-largest warehouse distribution center in the United States.

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Amazon’s new Kent distribution warehouse, less than a half-mile away from the Dvorak Barn

As a former 4H-er I am proud of the farm lands in Washington State. All Washingtonians are proud of our farm lands. It’s a big disappointment to all of the local farm owners to see this barn be condemned.

One way of saving the barn would be to move it. Sharon Bersaas, long-time Kent resident, has advocated for this option in order to preserve this legacy. “Our history has a wonderful story and using the Barn for an interpretive center we would be able to tell our story to future generations,” said Bersaas.

Bersaas and others have lobbied to get the barn moved to a preserved property, but the isolated area – along with the lack of funding – has made this venture a nonstarter.

One way to move the barn would be through crowd-sourced fundraisers such as gofundme, kickstarter or indiegogo. These could help raise funds to relocate the barn. The Greater Kent Historical Society’s Facebook page has a lot of information about the barn.  It could be used to make a Kent Historical Museum or an art gallery, or something along those lines. I think it would be neat if they were to make it into a restaurant. It would be awesome if they were to put up pictures of the barn, Kent and the community back in the 1920s, up on the walls around in the barn. Not only would you be eating, you would also be learning about some of the history of Kent, which, in my opinion, is pretty dang cool.

I hope that this story is meaningful to you and you want to help raise funds for the barn. Help support awareness by downloading the Washington State Insider App (available mid-June) and visiting the Dvorak Barn in Kent!

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The back of the Dvorak Barn

Woodinville Schoolhouse’s Last Lesson: How to Preserve our Past

By Anna V., Lopez Island Middle School Student

Woodinville Schoolhouse is one of the last remaining historic buildings in Woodinville, WA. Woodinville was one of the first towns to be settled across Lake Washington from Seattle in the 1880s. The schoolhouse is on the corner of 133rd Ave NE and NE 175th Street, near Woodinville City Hall and the sports fields – once the center of activity of Woodinville. It has been vacant for sixteen years, and minimal effort has been made to keep it maintained. The building now is starting to get cracks on the walls. There are plants growing up against the walls as well. Without any rehabilitation, the building will crumble. Once this building is destroyed no one can recover all the history that it represents.

Woodinville Schoolhouse front

Originally a wooden structure, the Woodinville Schoolhouse is actually a compilation of three  building projects. It now stands as an example of  1930s architecture and the New Deal program,  Work Projects Administration (WPA).

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The Schoolhouse served the kids of Woodinville for almost a century until it closed down in the 1970s. By that time, the Woodinville population had outgrown the Schoolhouse, so it was rented out to community groups. It was later used for city hall, but the City of Woodinville closed it down after the Nisqually Earthquake made the building unsafe to occupy. The Woodinville Schoolhouse now faces “demolition by neglect.”

Woodinville leaders disagree on the future of the Schoolhouse. Many people want to remodel it. Others, such as members of the City Council, want to tear down the building to make room for a parking garage. The Woodinville Heritage Society’s mission is to preserve and perpetuate the history of the greater Woodinville area.  Rick  Chatterton, Heritage Society Board President, would like to see the Schoolhouse once again be a gathering place for the community. Chatterton and the Heritage Society are talking to the State of Washington to confirm that the building is on the National Historic Landmark list. If it is on the list, it will be much harder, if not impossible, for the City Council to have the building torn down.

Chatterton feels that it is important to preserve the Schoolhouse. “It is more than just bricks and mortar; it tells the story of our community,” he said. “It represents the importance of education, community activities and how we have grown over the last century. To lose it would mean losing 120 years of history and robbing future generations of our unique story.”

Rick Chatterton

Rick Chatterton, Board President, Woodinville Heritage Society

The Woodinville Heritage Society has been driving the efforts to preserve the Woodinville Schoolhouse since 2004.  Over the years there has been support from some members of the City Council and various private building interests.  In 2001 the City, through the Woodinville Landmarks Commission and King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission, designated the building as a City of Woodinville Landmark. Recently, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Schoolhouse on its Most Endangered Properties List.

The history and the value of the Schoolhouse will never be the same if people want to ruin what is left. This building has been in Woodinville for 120 years. Destroying it would be a terrible thing.  As Chatterton explains, “Once a historic building like the Woodinville Schoolhouse is destroyed, it is gone forever.”

If you would like more information you can download the Washington State Insider app (launching mid-June 2016) and earn points for visiting the Woodinville Schoolhouse. Those points can be redeemed for discounted entry to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. You should also check out Woodinville Heritage Society’s website: www.WoodinvilleHeritage.org

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Woodinville School students, circa 1950