South Umpqua School District’s mission is to unlock the potential in every student. Approximately 1,500 students from grades K-12 attend one of the five campuses from Myrtle Creek, Tri City to Canyonville. The number of students has increased 5% since the last academic year.
The school year kicked off before the official first day began with the Kindergarten Readiness program. The newest learners had fun learning daily routines, going on bus rides and meeting classmates and teachers.
During the course of students’ journeys, they have access to balanced meals and well-rounded learning that includes language arts, social sciences, Spanish, math, science, art, special education, career and technical education (CTE), music, drama, physical education, athletics and clubs, as well as social-emotional and behavioral health support.
“When it comes to academics, social-emotional and behavioral health are important components in learning,” said South Umpqua School District Superintendent Kate McLaughlin. “Our Office of Student Services provides resources and services to enhance students’ success. We have a motto for all of our students and staff: Be safe, be respectful, be responsible.” The district is noticing that when these traits are put into action, attendance improves, relationships are strengthened and learning becomes easier, no matter the age of a student.
“Our district is focused on academic achievement for all students, while looking for ways to enhance equitable learning opportunities,” said McLaughlin.
In July a grant-funded construction project began at Coffenberry Middle School in Myrtle Creek. The school will receive a new addition that includes a kitchen, cafeteria and band room. The expansion also addresses student safety. Currently the middle school students must walk across the street to share facilities with Myrtle Creek Elementary School. The project is slated to be completed in February.
Additionally, plans are underway for the barn and greenhouse construction projects to begin this fall. The district is grateful for the South Umpqua FFA Alumni Association for their efforts to secure funding.
“We continually seek avenues to build education and vertical career pathways for students,” added McLaughlin, “and the barn and greenhouse are examples of facilities attached to career connected learning.”
Career connected learning begins in elementary school with science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) and extends to CTE opportunities such as welding, woodshop, computer science and robotics in the upper grades.
There’s even a high school sewing group who has partnered with the Cancer Center in Roseburg to make neck pillows for patients. This growing program is open to all students of all abilities.
Other vertical pathway opportunities are connected with Umpqua Community College’s Dual Credit and Career Academy programs. Career Academy students get to explore careers on the college campus that span the fields of automotive, emergency medical technician and theater, while earning college credit.
“When it comes to learning, learning also happens outside the classroom, “said McLaughlin. To encourage additional opportunities for students, the district continues to cover students’ sports, music and school-sponsored club fees.
The number of district staff continues to grow too. In early September, the district welcomed Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Taylor Vian as the school resource officer (SRO). Adding an SRO to the team is part of the district’s safety and security planning and also a school board priority.
“We need to have a safe and secure environment for our staff to work and for our students to learn to reach positive outcomes,” said McLaughlin. “I’m thrilled that Deputy Vian is part of our team. He has a passion for working with and helping families and students. The district appreciates the efforts of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office as well as continued support from the Myrtle Creek Police Department and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians Tribal Police.”
Deputy Vian’s primary location is at South Umpqua High School and is a regular presence at each campus, providing mentorship and guidance. He attends school events and activities as time allows. At a recent football game, students were encouraged to introduce themselves in exchange for a snack bar treat.
“I’m truly thankful for our board members, students, staff, parents and community partners who come together to create a positive atmosphere of learning,” said McLaughlin.
These highlights mentioned represent only a portion of opportunities and success stories within this fabulous district.