Sartori Elementary School Principal Angela Bogan woke up at 6 a.m. the first day of school, Aug. 29. But as an early-riser, it wasn’t for lack of preparedness. Her and the staff had been working in tandem with the construction company for a week to assure the staff could be in the building during construction putting the finishing touches on classrooms.
The building was ready, and staff team building and classroom design was underway in advance of the first day.
The district pooled resources so Sartori staff could arrive early since they were coming from all over the state, and all were experiencing a different approach to teaching.
“I was a principal for Seattle School District for 10 years, and it’s a completely different feel,” Bogan said, whose previous role focused more on the functions of the building at Seattle’s Dearborn Park International Elementary School than the day-to-day. “It’s also a shift in my leadership which is amazing because I can sit elbow-to-elbow with my staff and learn from them.”
Ten percent of the Sartori staff is from Renton School District, and majority of the teachers are experienced. The farthest teacher came from Chicago.
The first day included an all-school assembly where Bogan read aloud “What Do You Do with a Chance?”
The students came from all over the school district, so Bogan used the book to talk about how they’re all in this together, and taking a chance together. Parents also were allowed to stay for the assembly. Families then said goodbye to students at the classroom door, which Bogan said was a shift from parents wanting to roam and flood the halls, exploring the new school.
“There was extra support from our district office at all of our stairwells, so parents were able to say their goodbyes and then safely exit the building,” Bogan said.
The building has a number of innovative features including shared seating spaces for each grade level, three STEM labs and a community meeting space dedicated to any after school community gatherings and PTA.
As part of Renton innovation zone schools, the students were mostly familiar with the approaches to social-emotional learning and math that they experienced, Bogan said. As a Renton elementary school they also now offer before and after school care with Right At School. The staff for the daycare was also able to take part in the school staffs’ training on social-emotional learning, and Bogan thought it was powerful that everyone received the same message to provide well-rounded support to those students.
Students now also have science infused in all curriculum areas.
“It’s not so much what we teach, it’s how we teach it,” Bogan said. “We’re looking at lessons being coherent and cohesive. We’re talking about science in writing, science in reading principles for nonfiction. We’re like a typical school with art, music and library. It’s how we teach that’s different.”
One message the staff give students and families is asking how they show up to the community, meaning how do they give back to the community as well as asking how they can highlight what student’s bring. The message has been a way to develop a community mentality in the new school as it collects students and staff from all over.
“We can take something from every school and make it our own as we build this place,” Bogan said.
Bogan said she hopes every Sartori student this year has real world experiences in STEM that they can apply to everyday life.
The grass at Sartori isn’t grown yet, but as student’s are blocked out of the field until January, they still get to enjoy it through learning.
One science unit students are learning is the puddle phenomenon, where they learn how puddles are formed and where they go. As they look at the grass and where the puddles grow, they will ask what happens to the grass in those heavily watered areas, and why.
“At first the students were like ‘Oh we can’t go in the field?’ But as teachers shared the idea of the first unit with students they were excited. Now you see students out on the playground looking at the field,” Bogan said. “If it rains they will definitely want to see where those puddles are forming because it’s a topic of conversation in the building.”
Bogan said Sartori has received overwhelming support from the neighborhood, including neighbors who take photos of kids playing after hours on the playground, and thanking Sartori for “not taking over the street.”
Sartori Elementary School has a back to school barbecue scheduled for Sept. 17 paired with the curriculum night. Oct. 9 will be Sartori’s official ribbon cutting.