The New Mexico Public Education Department tested White Sands Elementary and Middle School on its overall performance and it passed with flying colors for the second year in a row. The School received an “A” grade based on the NMPED assessment. The assessment looked at categories like grade improvement, grade improvements in students with lower averages and overall school growth.
“This is a recognition to the teachers and the parent’s level of involvement in school,” said Las Cruces Public Schools Interim Superintendent Steven Sanchez. “When parents are very involved the students do better.”
In NMPEDs report, White Sands School’s highest rating came from the school growth category. The school received 9.29 points out of 10. The school growth category looks at how the school improved in student performance. The school also received bonus points, five out of five, for reducing truancy, promoting extracurricular activities and engaging parents and students. White Sands School’s average grade for the past three years is 82.9, from 2012-2014 the school received a “B” grade.
“They’ve done really well historically,” Sanchez said.
In an Oct. 16 article by the Sun-News, White Sands School was rated amongst the highest percentage of teachers with a rating of effective or better within Las Cruces, based on an NMPED review. White Sands School Principal Kathy Vigil said there are several teachers that rank above the “effective” standard.
“The kids have a lot to do with it but so do the teachers,” she said. “Our teachers are really ranked high. They just do a really great job.”
Vigil also credits a lot of the school’s success, not only to the teachers and students, but to the exceptional community setting she said WSMR provides. She said Child Youth and School-Aged Services offers enriching before-and-after school programs for the students, which assist the students with their homework, and it allows them to do better in school. The most important piece of the puzzle, according to Vigil, is the parent’s involvement in their child’s school.
“Parents have high expectations of their kids as well as the staff,” she said. “The whole community concept is really doing us well.”
Vigil said everyone in the community should be recognized for the school’s “A” grade. She said organizations like the WSMR Fire Department, Army Community Service and the White Sands School Parent Teacher Association always have a strong presence at the school. The school is also the only school in the district to host a First Day of School Holiday prior to the start of school. The holiday is attended by several organizations within the installation and outside of the installation and provides families with free school supplies and information to help improve their child’s school year.
“All of the support they give the kids brings something to the table for their performance at school,” she said.
White Sands School is the only K-8 school within the Las Cruces Public School District. Currently, the school’s population is just over 250 students with 51 percent of those students being on-post residents and 50 percent Las Cruces residents. “We are very unique,” Vigil said.