Spotlight on Glendale School District



“The staff is doing an incredible job building relationships with students and each other. We are committed to creating a culture that supports social and emotional health and provides all students an education to prepare them for their futures.”

– David Hanson, Glendale School District Superintendent

March 2022 – Glendale School District has a motto: Make school the best part of every student’s day. The southernmost school district in Douglas County serves 300 students who attend the PreK through sixth-grade elementary school and a junior and senior high school campus.

The community-focused district fulfills their motto by discovering what students need to thrive. Students and parents are asked what matters most. The district uses the data to ensure that students feel cared for and have access to quality educational experiences. Between made-from-scratch cafeteria food to meaningful learning opportunities, the district makes school a welcoming place.

“We are reaching students, and this matters greatly to us,” says Glendale School District Superintendent David Hanson. “The staff is doing an incredible job building relationships with students and each other. We are committed to creating a culture that supports social and emotional health and provides all students an education to prepare them for their futures.”

Hanson remembers what it was like to be a student. Music is what kept him in school and connected. After graduating from Arizona State University in 1985 he lived and worked as a teacher for six years on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona. Since that time he taught special education classes in eastern Oregon before moving to Douglas County and has worked in other administration roles before accepting his current position six years ago.

“I love the Glendale School District and have so much admiration for the students, staff, school board and community members,” says Hanson.

To help students succeed, the district also invests in teachers. “Our district works with the Douglas Education Service District’s instructional coaching team to provide professional learning to teachers,” Hanson says. “Even teachers get the chance to learn. We build learning opportunities into the lives of our educators.”

This intentional approach is making a difference. The overall graduation rate has increased 30% in the last six years. Last year the graduation rate was 82.6%.

To help continue supporting student success, this past year the district adopted i-Ready, an assessment protocol that helps use data to drive instruction. “We look at the data to see where we need to add teachers or instructional assistants, what resources we need to put in place to help students succeed and what strides are being made,” says Hanson. “Now each student has access to a laptop.”

“We are optimistic that the solid base we are building will have a positive impact on the students’ education,” says Glendale Elementary School Principal Bridget McMillen. “I have really appreciated how the community and our families have come together to support the school and students. We have worked hard together to remain positive, supportive, and targeted on student success.”

Learning begins with the PreK four-year-old students. They enjoy 3-hours of learning fun each day, which includes singing the ABC game and playing counting games.

All elementary students receive targeted reading intervention each day in small group settings. High school juniors and seniors work as teaching assistants to help kindergarten students with reading.

“We focus on skills to develop better reading habits and support learning,” says McMillen.

In fact, the school has incorporated literacy into a school-wide theme this year that is based on the book titled “The Masterpiece,” which focuses on inclusion and acceptance.

The music program has expanded. Second through fifth-graders are learning keyboarding and sixth-graders are learning to play musical instruments.

The elementary curriculum also includes gardening. “We have an extensive community garden that is maintained as part of our fourth-grade science program. They even host a community plant starter sale to raise funds for future projects,” says McMillen.

Elementary students have the option to volunteer in the cafeteria serving food and washing dishes. Students get the chance to be part of a community. “We are all about community and family,” says McMillen.

In junior high school, students have access to math and reading intervention classes. “This is an opportunity for students to sharpen skills,” says Glendale Junior and Senior High School Principal, Randall Smolensky. “We will continue to identify where students need support and ways we can best support them. In the summer we will offer summer enrichment classes.”

In addition to literacy, social studies, math, sciences, language arts, music and Spanish, high school students also have the chance to participate in sports, robotics, woodshop, technology, drama, home economics, leadership, ceramics, media (school newspaper) and sign language.

Physical health is also an important component in the overall curriculum. “We encourage lifelong fitness,” says John Stott, a social studies and math teacher as well as the athletic director at the high school. “Students really enjoy our advanced training class.”

Smolensky also mentioned that four of the high school wrestling students recently participated in the state championships.

This summer the district will host the second annual Summer Enrichment Camp, which will focus on STEM-based activities in science, math, engineering and technology.

The district is an example of how to create community connections. In 2018 the district hosted a community barbeque with the support of a grant from The Ford Family Foundation. More than 600 community members attended the event.

Additionally, the district is a resource when needed. The kitchen and showers have been made available to firefighters during fire season. The elementary school is designated as an official Red Cross site in the event of emergencies.

This past winter, the district cut down dead oaks and gave away firewood.

The district supports the community and the community supports the district. In 2020 Glendale voters passed a $1.88 million bond for capital improvements, including energy-efficient windows, new HVAC systems, security enhancements, improved communication systems, electrical system repairs and a new gym floor.

“We are grateful for the community connections we have built together,” says Hanson.

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