A message from Centennial Superintendent Paul Coakley

Posted on September 26, 2018 in CEO Updates

Dear All Hands Raised Partners and Friends –

Because we hold the work of the All Hands Raised Partnership on behalf of the community, we have the responsibility to shine a light on where we are making progress together. To that end, a recent newsletter from the Centennial School District highlighted the gains their students are making and how the Partnership is contributing to those gains. It was compelling—so we asked Superintendent Paul Coakley if he would share his reflections with our larger community. His thoughts are below.

We are grateful not only to Superintendent Coakley and his team, but also to the many community partners who work with Centennial teachers, counselors and principals on a daily basis to ensure the success of our kids.

Dan Ryan
CEO, All Hands Raised

Dear Friends –

I have served as the superintendent of the Centennial School District (CSD) since 2016 and I am proud of the work our district has accomplished through our partnership with All Hands Raised (AHR). We are a vibrant and diverse community located in the cities of both Portland and Gresham. We proudly serve 6,215 students: 56.6% are of color, 68% qualify for free and reduced lunch. Our teachers, staff and administrators believe in the possibility of every student we serve, and are dedicated to helping them reach their full potential.

All Hands Raised has been an important partner in this work. They have facilitated school community teams and partnered with our staff as we work to increase restorative justice practices, improve student attendance and help our students complete ninth grade with six or more credits (this important benchmark makes them four times more likely to graduate). In addition, AHR has been instrumental in supporting our efforts to increase access to college and career opportunities for our students. As a result, Centennial students’ FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate has increased by 5.7 percentage points over a two year period. And, the number of students enrolling in our Pathways to Manufacturing CTE program has increased significantly.

This August, staff from five of our district’s schools participated in a one-day intensive action planning workshop, hosted by All Hands Raised, that had the explicit goal of starting the school year off with a plan to improve a specific outcome and commit to action. Our teams’ goals include targets such as: reducing disproportionate referrals for students of color to reflect the student population by summer of 2019 and increasing the percentage of African American students who have a documented post-secondary plan with identified actions from 60% to 100% by June 2019. All Hands Raised focuses their professional development on data, personal accountability and results which aligns with our district’s goals as we work to create a real and lasting culture change.

At these workshops, our staff joined with principals, teachers, counselors and partners from 21 partner school community teams across Multnomah County. The energy and excitement in the room was evident—as one of our teachers who participated said, “We created goals, bonded as a team, are using common language, and we are fired up.”

All Hands Raised brings educators together at no cost to districts, providing opportunities for teachers to collaborate with the six other Multnomah County school districts in meaningful ways as we all work to increase student achievement and graduation rates, eliminate barriers for students and expand pathways beyond high school. When educators have the time to learn from each other, it shows up in the classroom and impacts students in positive ways.

At Centennial, our student achievement, growth and graduation results are strong. We also continue to make strides toward attaining equal results across all groups of students, but we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that each and every student succeeds. We are committed to reaching this goal.

I am grateful for our partnership with All Hands Raised. Partnerships such as these are a crucial part of our efforts to tap into each student’s potential and support them in reaching the goal of graduating from college and/or being career ready.

Paul Coakley
Centennial School District