Spotlight on Camas Valley School District
“We focus on education, character and relationships. This approach prepares students for productive and meaningful futures.”
– Don Wonsley, Camas Valley School District Superintendent
November 2021 – Camas Valley Charter School District is a tight-knit single campus and home to 235 students in grades PreK-12. Community pride is evidenced by the Hornet football team’s 1A state championship dates painted on the bleachers that overlook a manicured field. And within the main school building senior class photographs from the last fifty years adorn a hallway.
Superintendent and Principal Don Wonsley can see straight down this hallway from his office, which allows him to get a pulse on the daily happenings. Sometimes students pop by to grab a piece of candy. “It’s those small moments of time that allow me to make connections with students,” he shares. “Maybe I’ll mention the football game or ask how things are going.”
While a strong curriculum grounds student in core subjects such as literacy, social studies, math, sciences, language arts, music, Spanish and physical education, along students’ journeys they will have opportunities to participate in electives, career and technical education (CTE) and STEAM education, athletics, clubs and organizations. There’s also a special education program to support students.
“We focus on education, character and relationships,” Wonsley explains. This approach prepares students for productive and meaningful futures.
Each month the district focuses on a positive character trait. This month the character trait is perseverance and for the month of December, students will learn about honesty. Elementary students who exemplify these traits are recognized. The district digital reader board displays the monthly traits, which is intended to spark conversations.
“I am fortunate to have 40 great staff members who focus on students,” Wonsley says. “Students know when you care, which makes educating students more effective. I can’t say enough positive things about my staff.”
Also, the district believes that education is an ongoing, lifelong process that extends beyond the school environment and is a joint venture between families, educators and the community. “I get input from staff, students and community members,” Wonsley says. “When someone brings me an idea, first I process the idea as a teacher and figure out the importance of the idea and ask myself how we can make this work. I worked for 14 years as a history teacher, so I understand the importance of bringing ideas to the table. And then I put on my administrator hat and consider the policies and costs.”
Recently, students let Wonsley know they wanted a school newspaper. This past month a small editorial team combined of staff and students published their first edition, The Hornet Report, named after the school mascot.
Furthermore, the community had a voice in determining how the Student Investment Account (SIA) grant money was spent. A survey revealed that agriculture, music and life skills are important.
As a result, the district hired Amanda Kyllo-Crowe, the new agriculture science teacher. “We were looking for a teacher who has vision and Amanda brings this vision to us,” Wonsley says.
“I’m happy to be here and help students make new traditions,” Kyllo-Crowe says. The students are excited that FFA has returned to the campus and look forward to welcoming a few sheep and goats to their campus. Community members are excited about a newly formed alumni group. “I listen to the students to hear about what they want to learn.” For instance, when students said they would like to participate in public speaking, Kyllo-Crowe suggested forming a leadership team. In February the team will compete in speech competitions.
The campus barn was recently remodeled, which includes a classroom. This space is the perfect place to resurrect the agricultural programs to introduce students to animal science, plant science, agribusiness and even prepare for speech competitions. And the barn, with wide open doors, was recently used for the homecoming dance.
The SIA grant money was also used to hire a K-12 music teacher, Michael McLean who is building the program. “It’s been fun learning who likes to sing, and students now have the chance to learn how to play a couple of different types of instruments,” Wonsley points out. “The foundation has been laid for the music department to grow.” The newly formed choir is busy practicing for an upcoming concert.
This small community-based school has made a commitment providing high levels of attention and opportunities for all students.
“Students are excited about all of the choices our school district offers,” Wonsley adds. “We’re here to support students and families.”
For more information about this incredible school district, www.camasvalley.k12.or.us.