Steilacoom Historical School District – Pierce County

April 22, 2024

Steilacoom Historical School District

Inspiring Minds and Hearts:


A Glimpse into a dynamic Historical School District

In the Steilacoom Historical School District, a dynamic educational community flourishes, prioritizing the well-rounded development of its students. Beyond traditional academic instruction, the district is dedicated to nurturing every individual’s intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Dr. Kathi Weight, Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Shawn Lewis provide insight into the district’s unique combination of academic rigor and comprehensive support.

Dr. Kathi Weight, Superintendent

“With approximately 3,000 students spread across four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school, our district stands as a shining example of educational dedication and achievement.”, Weight remarks proudly. “Our proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord infuses our community with a rich diversity, with military-connected students comprising around 40% of our population.”

The district’s commitment to academic success is evident in its graduation rate, which is 98.1%. “Our success is a testament to the dedication of our staff, the support of our parents, and the resilience of our students,” Weight emphasizes. We believe in providing an education and a pathway to success for every graduate.”

The district’s approach transcends traditional academic metrics, emphasizing social-emotional learning (SEL) and neural education. Lewis elaborates, “Recognizing the challenges faced by our military-connected students and all learners alike, we’ve prioritized the integration of SEL into every aspect of our educational framework.”

Social-emotional learning

There is a strong emphasis on meeting students’ social-emotional needs, recognizing these needs  are just as important as academic ones. The focus involves extensive professional development for staff and active engagement with families on anxiety, social well-being, emotional regulation, and co-regulation.

The commitment is underlined by adopting a neuroscience-informed approach, the science of social-emotional learning, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of cognitive and emotional development. By framing social-emotional learning within the context of brain science, the district has garnered significant support from stakeholders, leading to increased buy-in and interest in understanding how the brain processes emotions and regulates behavior.

The approach nurtures a supportive learning environment and contributes to the district’s high graduation rate. The district prides itself on caring for its students’ hearts and minds, and this philosophy is reflected in the extensive training provided to staff and the careful selection of personnel who share these values.

Continuing initiatives like the science of social-emotional learning have a culture of understanding and support within the district. They equip students with the tools they need to navigate life’s challenges. There is a deep care for students’ hearts and minds, believing that addressing their social-emotional needs is paramount to unlocking their full potential.

Approach to Innovation

While navigating demographic shifts and anticipating future challenges, the Steilacoom Historical School District focuses on empowering students and engaging with the community,” Weight affirms. “Whether through early literacy initiatives, expanding dual credit opportunities, or addressing infrastructure needs, our goal is to ensure every student receives a quality education.”

One of the cornerstones of Steilacoom’s success lies in its strategic utilization of grants, which have served as catalysts for innovation and improvement. Through partnerships with Joint Base Lewis-McChord and rigorous grant processes, the district has embarked on transformative endeavors spanning social-emotional learning, math development, STEM education, world languages, and early literacy.

Weight highlights the significance of these grants, not only in providing resources and technology but also in encouraging a culture of data-driven decision-making. The grants have empowered the district to invest in professional learning for staff, equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to deliver impactful instruction.

Lewis emphasizes the importance of evidence-based strategies and the allocation of resources toward teacher training, tools, and additional time for students. By leveraging the expertise of its educators and embracing best practices, the district ensures that every student receives the support they need to thrive academically and emotionally.

Approach to Attract and Retain Talent

Attracting and retaining top talent remains a key priority for the Steilacoom Historical School District. Weight stresses the district’s ability to recruit from far and wide, aided by streamlined application processes and close relationships with educational institutions. However, the district’s unique focus on social-emotional learning and neural education sets it apart, attracting educators who share its holistic student development vision.

Under Weight’s tenure of nearly 12 years, the district has cultivated a sense of stability and purpose that resonates throughout its schools. The longevity of both administrative and teaching staff speaks volumes about the district’s commitment to its people and collective mission.


Response to Demographic Shifts

As communities across the nation grapple with the aftermath of the pandemic, Steilacoom Historical School District finds itself at the crossroads of demographic change. Weight and Lewis shed light on the district’s evolving enrollment landscape, highlighting its challenges and opportunities.

The onset of the pandemic dealt a blow to the district’s enrollment, with an initial loss of approximately 8%. While some students have returned, the district continues to operate at a lower enrollment level than in pre-pandemic times. This decline can be attributed to various factors, including the lingering effects of the pandemic, housing affordability issues, and economic constraints exacerbated by inflation.

Lewis articulates the nuanced dynamics, noting a shift in migration patterns and a slowdown in new families moving into the area. Before the pandemic, the district experienced steady growth fueled by incoming families but now faces a stagnation in population influx. The ripple effect is evident in the demographics of incoming kindergarten classes, which lag the number of graduating seniors.

Addressing this demographic ebb requires a multifaceted approach. Weight emphasizes the importance of community engagement and responsive staffing practices. The district seeks to align staffing levels with enrollment trends through active listening and dialogue with stakeholders, ensuring resource allocation meets students’ evolving needs.

Strategic staffing adjustments, primarily through attrition, have enabled the district to maintain equilibrium amid enrollment fluctuations. However, a concerted effort is made to prioritize student needs, with staffing decisions driven by a commitment to equitable access to educational opportunities.

Additionally, the district is proactive in responding to shifting educational preferences, particularly post-secondary pathways. Lewis speaks to the rise in students participating in programs like Running Start, which offers college-level coursework at local community colleges. While valuable, these programs present challenges in maintaining a sense of community and engagement within the high school setting.

In response, the district has expanded offerings such as College in the High School, partnering with institutions like Central Washington University to deliver college-level courses within the high school environment. This initiative not only provides students with accessible college credits but also preserves the supportive relationships fostered by dedicated district staff.

As Steilacoom Historical School District navigates the complexities of demographic change, it remains consistent in its commitment to student success. Through proactive measures, collaborative partnerships, and a focus on innovation, the district continues to adapt and thrive in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

Steilacoom Historical School District’s Vision for the Future

“At the heart of our vision for the future is a commitment to student learning and academic achievement,” Weight affirms. “Early literacy initiatives will remain a cornerstone of our efforts, ensuring every student has the foundational skills necessary for success.”

Lewis echoes this sentiment, also emphasizing the importance of expanding dual credit opportunities to provide students with pathways to college-level coursework. “We are dedicated to empowering our students to excel academically while fostering a strong sense of community within our schools,” Lewis remarks.

The district anticipates accommodating significant growth spurred by residential developments in the City of DuPont. “We are excited about the substantial influx of new students expected in the coming years,” Superintendent Weight acknowledges. “Our priority will be to ensure that we can effectively meet the needs of these students while maintaining the high standard of education that our community expects.”

“We are investing in energy-efficient systems to create safe, efficient learning environments for our students,” states Lewis, underscoring the district’s commitment to sustainability initiatives in addressing infrastructure expansion. “Our goal is to minimize our environmental footprint while providing the best educational experience.”

Furthermore, the district is dedicated to addressing evolving family needs, particularly concerning transportation and student safety. Superintendent Weight emphasizes the importance of promoting alternative modes of transportation and ensuring safe school routes. The aim is to foster a culture of active commuting while prioritizing the well-being of students.

Weight concludes, “Through collaborative partnerships, strategic planning, and a relentless focus on student needs, we look ahead with optimism and determination.”


Steilacoom Historical School District

What:  Steilacoom Historical School District prioritizes social-emotional learning and neural education to support the holistic development of its students.

Where: The Steilacoom Historical School District is in Washington, USA. Steilacoom is a town in Pierce County, situated in the Puget Sound region of the state.



Right At School –

At Right At School, we champion the concept of an educational ecosystem that nurtures the holistic development of children. This ecosystem is a collaborative network that binds schools, families, and communities to foster an environment where every child can thrive. We believe in breaking down the traditional silos that have historically segregated educational stakeholders, advocating for a united approach that leverages the strengths of each to support the diverse needs of students. By tailoring this model to the specific needs of communities, such as those within the Steilacoom School District, we can co-create strategies that significantly enhance student outcomes.

Our vision is to transform education into a more inclusive, equitable, and effective system that recognizes and addresses each community’s unique challenges and opportunities. This approach not only prepares students for academic success but also for a fulfilling life beyond the classroom.

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