Oregon's Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden spent about three hours Thursday "in the trenches" at Phoenix High School.
During her visit, Golden, accompanied by Phoenix-Talent School District Superintendent Teresa Sayre and Phoenix High School Principal Jani Hale, listened to one student practice her senior project presentation, talked to teachers about various school programs, had lunch with 10 students in the library and visited the school's greenhouse and student-run news studio.
"It was very validating because somebody recognized all the great things we've been doing with the little we have," Hale said.
"It's caviar work on a peanut butter budget," added Phoenix High School Assistant Principal Shawna Schleif.
Golden was in Southern Oregon visiting Grants Pass High School and asked Adam Koekkoek, a Phoenix High counselor, if she could visit Phoenix High School as well. Koekkoek was a student representative on the Springfield School Board when Golden was superintendent of that district.
Hale said the school's data is starting to draw attention.
Compared with high schools in Medford, Klamath Falls, Ashland, Grants Pass and other neighboring districts, Phoenix has the second highest percentage of students going to college, the third lowest dropout rate and the third highest math and writing scores. However, it also has the second highest percentage of students with disabilities and the fourth highest percentage of low-income students.
"(Golden) spent the day in the trenches and isn't removing herself from the education scene," Hale said.
"It was really validating to see all the school's hard work recognized," she added.
— Teresa Thomas