As the school year comes to a close, 2024 Regional Teacher of the Year Donna Schatz prepares students to apply tangible job-readiness skills in her engineering class at Washougal High School. Schatz was recently recognized as 2024 Regional Teacher of the Year by ESD 112 for her adaptability, understanding, and creative application of classroom skills to solve real world problems.
Students in Schatz’s class are creating their own proposals for managing stormwater runoff issues in the Washougal High School student parking lot. Kyle Rogers, local architect and internship program director at LSW Architects in Vancouver, visited the class to discuss design proposals with the students. Schatz develops these partnerships to bring job opportunities into the classroom.
“The most valuable part of this project is that students feel a sense of ownership over their school and a purpose to their work,” said Schatz.
The project exposes students to real world applications for classroom work. “We’re creating rough draft proposals to add more green infrastructure to the parking lot, because the parking lot isn’t draining correctly and a bunch of parking spots aren’t usable when it rains because a huge puddle forms,” said Abraham White.
Students get creative to propose modern and realistic solutions to the problem at hand. “We’re looking at how adding permeable surfaces and plants can help the parking lot to drain better,” said Emylie Guido. Students complete this work in the classroom and outdoors on class visits to analyze the parking lot site. As the district begins planning processes with the City of Washougal and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, these student proposals will provide some insight to student perspectives on the future of the Washougal High School student parking lot.
Schatz designs learning activities that are scaffolded, engaging, and relevant to both the students and the content standards. Engineering is one of many Career & Technical Education (CTE) course options available at Washougal High School. CTE combines technical, leadership, employability and academic skills to prepare students for success in education and in life. Students can learn about STEM careers as early as 7th grade continuing through high school in engineering, applied math and computer science classes or explore one of the nine other career clusters offered at Washougal High School.