By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published June 6, 2012
Boeing surprises Evergreen Middle School with $25,000 check
EVERETT — At a school in the middle of the city, a 10-year effort to bring grades up paid off handsomely last week.
Evergreen Middle School won a $25,000 grant from The Boeing Co. for the marked improvement in academic success among its students.
Teachers said the improvements are the result of the dedicated work of former principal Joyce Stewart, and propagated by current principal Larry Fleckenstein.
Stewart put together a top team of teachers over the past 10 years and “sought the best,” physical education teacher Brien Elliott said.
Morale improved, grades improved and people said the student culture of Evergreen Middle School went from rudimentary to “can-do.”
Evergreen Middle’s staff was surprised last week by a visit from Boeing employees, Everett School District Superintendent Gary Cohn and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson who came with a $25,000 check and a model airplane. The gift was a surprise, but Fleckenstein kept cool.
“A $25,000 unrestricted grant...” Fleckenstein read, prompting teachers to react with hushed excitement. The principal didn’t miss a beat. “That’s nice,” he said.
Evergreen Middle is a multicultural school where multiple languages are spoken. Almost half of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, an indicator of poverty.
Teachers take extra hours to work with students, and the parking lot at Evergreen Middle never completely empties hours after the school day ends, teachers said.
In the past decade, Evergreen’s standardized test scores have improved, and nearby districts noticed.
“We’ve had a lot of schools visit our school to see what works,” shop teacher Tim Stetcher said.
Former principal Stewart arrived at 6 a.m. and didn’t leave Evergreen until the late evening, teachers told the Tribune.
“One of (Stewart’s) quotes is ‘do what’s best for the kids’,” Elliott said. “She’s allowed us to use our own unique ways to motivate students.”
When students enter Evergreen Middle, one of the first things they are asked is how else they could participate in the school and community, Stewart said.
“You don’t miss a beat with these kids,” Stewart said.
Fleckenstein became principal in 2011 and Stewart became an executive director for K-12 education in the district.
Despite personal setbacks, Stewart never wavered during her time as principal.
“I felt a great responsibility for the parents and teachers in the community,” Stewart said.
This is the first time an Everett school won Boeing’s John D. Warner Award. The company created the award as a gift to retiring chief administrative officer John Warner, who spent years supporting public education and attended last week’s ceremony.
“One thing I learned about education is to have a great school you need great teachers, and everything I’ve read (about Evergreen Middle), this is a great school,” Warner said.