Crestwood Middle School Principal Dr. Stephanie Nance gave a presentation on progress the school is making to the Royal Palm Beach Education Advisory Board on Monday, Feb. 14.
“Crestwood Middle School is very fortunate to have a cadre of dedicated and accomplished educators,” Nance said. “We are very excited, proud and humbled to have a veteran staff at Crestwood. Our average tenure at the school is eight years, however, we have at least 42 percent of our teachers who have been at Crestwood 20-plus years.”
In fact, Nance added, several teachers recently retired who were there when Crestwood opened back in August 1982.
“We are vested, we believe in our children, you stick it out, you stick it through because that is how you build resiliency, and that is how you build empowerment for children,” Nance said.
She noted that last year, Crestwood’s Lisa Hutchins was awarded middle school counselor of the year by the School District of Palm Beach County.
“She is still on staff at Crestwood Middle School,” Nance said, adding that other teachers have been recognized recently with awards, including a William T. Dwyer Award finalist, along with three published authors, a middle school reading teacher of the year and the Royal Palm Beach Rotary Club’s teacher of the year.
“None of this work can be done in isolation,” Nance said. “Success is measured based on the work and effort that is put forth. We are a welcoming and inclusive school.”
The school currently has 737 students, 23 percent of whom are White, 30 percent Hispanic, 39 percent Black and 9 percent multi-racial. At the school, 72 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and more than 27 languages are spoken.
She said the school is enroute to receiving an A from the state, based on a comparison of 2021 scores and 2022 target scores.
“Our students, our teachers, our staff, we are up for the task of regaining our A because we know that an A is within our reach,” Nance said.
Nance believes in cultivating a culture where positive relationships with students are fostered in a safe and nurturing learning environment, where students can develop their own voice and acquire skills in taking ownership of their learning, she said, setting high academic standards and providing rigorous and individualized instruction to meet the needs of all students, and ensuring that all students are prepared to succeed in high school and post-secondary endeavors.
“We are committed to empowering each student and ensuring that all students know that they have a voice,” Nance said. “We believe in the growth and development of all children. We feel we play a very important role in helping to produce the next generation of productive citizens.”
She said that her goals for this year are to “refresh, restart and soar.”
“It is so important that we continue to understand those wonderful experiences that we are bringing in the door, but how do we create that cultural environment that is going to prepare our students for high school?” she asked.
Some of the main target areas for this school year are to increase student proficiency on the Florida Statewide Assessments in all tested areas, increase student learning gains in English and math, to continue to actively engage teachers and all support staff in efficient learning communities, and foster positive relationships with all stakeholders.
Crestwood offers several high school courses to its students, Nance noted.
“We offer web design, which also allows our students to earn industry certification,” she said. “We also offer a high school emerging technology business class. We offer algebra 1 honors, geometry honors and physical science honors. We offer a high school virtual lab at Crestwood that offers more than 15 high school courses. Our students are walking out of Crestwood Middle School with high school credits already.”
The school is part of the Village of Royal Palm Beach K-12 continuum, which offers a coordinated program of learning from elementary school through high school.
“When our students are matriculating from middle to high school, they continue to strengthen their focus on whatever specialty area they have chosen,” Nance said. “Ultimately, our goal is that our students have equity, access, but also to sustain enrollment in these programs.”