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Educational programs included in bond proposal
Educational programs included in bond proposal
Posted on 09/18/2019
Educational programs included in bond proposal

Not all classroom space is created equal.

When the Bond Advisory Committee began studying facility needs for Puyallup, Rogers, Emerald Ridge, and Walker high schools, one of the most important things they discussed is instructional spaces. Specific educational programs have certain requirements for things like extra space, power, technology, machinery, chemicals, and movement of students within the room.

The reality is, as the district has grown over the past 30 years, educational programs and the critical skills and knowledge students need for post-high school success have evolved. In some cases, standard classrooms no longer meet the needs required for the success of key programs.

The skills learned in these programs take students to the next level when they graduate.

The district has been creative in making some programs work in classrooms that were not designed for them. One example is the Nursing Assistant Certification program launched at Puyallup, Rogers, and Emerald Ridge last year. Only certain classrooms could support the program, based on the amount of power available in the room. Even then, the number of students per class was limited due to space in the classroom.

This exciting new program is a first step towards a career in health services for many students. It is regulated by the nursing commission, and there are specific classroom environment requirements to mimic industry standards. There are six electric hospital beds in the classroom, and students need space to move around when practicing nursing skills. Also required is a sink with a special faucet that meets health standards, portable commodes to fill in for a practice restroom, and tables and chairs for instructional space.

“Long-term this is really going to be a viable program, and healthcare professionals are in such high demand. It was a huge challenge to find space, and having the correct space would take this program to a new level,” says Maija Thiel, director of instructional leadership for career and technical education.


This is an example of one of the educational programs that would benefit if the high school improvements bond is approved. Additional and appropriately configured classroom space will allow more students to access this program.

Through CTE courses, Puyallup junior high and high school students are exploring career pathways in Arts & Communications; Business & Marketing; Engineering & Technology; Health & Human Services; and Science & Natural Resources. Career pathways are tools to help them get where they want to go.

Thiel says some CTE programs lend themselves to regular classrooms, but some key programs have specific safety, space, and equipment requirements for students to learn in. For example, Anatomy is taught in a regular classroom setting. When students move up to Sports Medicine, they need training tables and equipment such as mannequins with space to practice on them.

There are Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) classes currently in the district with specialized spaces, such as the Aerospace program at Emerald Ridge, Welding at Rogers, and Manufacturing at Puyallup. Thiel said, “We’ve done a lot to refurbish classrooms to support these programs. We try to remodel and update spaces that are already in place to support our programs when possible. However, when we’re talking about completely restructuring or retrofitting, sometimes it’s not possible to make it an authentic classroom.”

New to the district this year is a pilot Mechatronics Registered Apprenticeship program at Emerald Ridge. Students learn the skills of a maintenance technician. The courses include mechanical systems, technical drafting, and power systems. “We’ve currently made it work in a portable space, kind of putting it together in different ways, but we need a bigger space. Students are learning with small kits that are miniature compared to the real components.”

Thiel says it’s really important that these courses mirror what is happening across the industry, and sometimes that requires the right space with the proper equipment.

Students at Walker High School are interested in Business and Marketing and recently started an espresso cart to serve students and staff. They work with vendors and distributors to learn the coffee business. The goal is to provide opportunities to learn business skills by opening a student store. At this time, the espresso cart is in a hallway, and there is not enough classroom space for the store.

“We are also taking care of our community as a whole. If we are doing things the right way, as we prepare our students, the community wins. They are going to have employees who have the right training and skills,” says Thiel.

Puyallup voters will be asked to consider the proposed high school bond measure on November 5, 2019 to improve safety and security, provide additional classroom space, and meet current educational specifications for instructional spaces at Puyallup, Rogers, Emerald Ridge, and Walker high schools.