Quilcene School is a small K-12 school located in the center of Quilcene, Washington on the east slope of the Olympic Peninsula. Forty-seven percent of its students are economically disadvantaged, and 22% have Individual Education Plans under IDEA. Innovative discipline approaches and a focus on providing all students access to the full curriculum--including those receiving special education services-- have earned Quilcene a Silver School of Opportunity designation.
As part of the school’s effort to improve climate, culture, and access to learning, Quilcene’s approach to discipline and behavior management incorporates a restorative principles model. The school utilizes a “response continuum” based on the severity of each infraction, with solutions ranging from informal conferencing to justice circles with all involved. The school employs a disciplinary specialist who is well trained in the practices of restorative justice and who works closely with staff to insure that academic classwork is completed during absences. Enacting a clear process that addresses and heals damaged relationships when disruptions interfere with learning, the school includes parents in the restorative process as well as “success plans’ developed with affected individuals. School personnel also facilitate additional non-exclusionary processes such as community service learning, and teachers and paraprofessionals receive ongoing training in the application of restorative principles and empathy development.
Quilcene’s academic programs also reflect strong commitments to inclusion and access for all students. There is virtually no student “tracking,” or ability grouping by courses, at the school, with a sampling of the total student population found in all classes. Previously, special education students were segregated in various “pull out” courses for at least part of the day while students identified as “highly capable” benefited from additional special opportunities and field trips. Now, students receiving special education services take coursework along with more advanced students and participate in sports teams and other extra-curricular activities. Students in the district’s Crossroads Alternative Learning Environment also take traditional classes for part of the day. As integral leaders in Quilcene’s shift to a continuum of services and inclusionary practices, teachers participate in ongoing professional development focused on differentiated instruction and related topics.