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Growth at Everson Moves Fourth Grade to Portables

As the number of new students enrolling in Nooksack Valley Schools continues to outpace other districts in Northwest Washington in terms of percentage increase, the massive demand has forced Everson Elementary to transition its entire fourth grade into new portable buildings.

The move to portables brings obvious challenges to teachers and students, but teachers Lisa Shafer and Kyla Frearson have also taken the opportunity to look on the bright side. “The new portables have an extra window in each classroom that looks out over the field behind the school,” Shafer says. “We have been able to see kids playing soccer during the recesses. It is a nice calming view to look out and see a wide-open space and blue sky.” Both Shafer and Frearson placed their desks near the window.

That proximity to the fields comes into play in the morning too, as teachers are closer to where the students line up in the morning, making it easier to greet students before heading inside for the day. “It is a nice start to the day for teachers and kids,” Shafer says. Plus, with just a few less steps to the playground, students feel they get a bit more out of their recess time.

Of course, there are challenges with technology, whether connecting phones, alarms, Wi-Fi, Chromebook shelving, electrical outlets and more. “Teachers and students have learned flexibility and patience as our district works through completion of the technology aspects,” she says.

The district must have portable water delivered into the buildings so students have access to fresh water during the day and hand wipes help students clean hands after recess. Without sinks in the portables, teachers need to improvise in a variety of ways.

“For us teachers, another challenge is making sure you get everything you need when you do walk into the school building,” Shafer says. “I still haven’t mastered that, but we both keep lists and never walk back and forth empty handed. We are always trying to think ahead and remain flexible.”

That flexibility has led to the teachers doing whatever they can to help the students feel special. The walkway from the building to the portable and up the ramp to the classroom has yellow stripes. Teachers have nicknamed the path the “super highway.” As Shafer says, “We are traveling along just fine these days at Everson Elementary.”