U.S. Secretary of Education visits McMinnville High School
Posted on 10/12/2017

This week, the U.S. Secretary of Education visited McMinnville High School (MHS) to tour classrooms, observe staff development and hear from staff and current and former students.

Secretary Betsy DeVos said she came to McMinnville because she read a news article about high achievement in the district and wanted to see for herself what led to that success.

The visit began with a visit to a staff development session to observe the some of the regular professional development that takes place weekly at the high school. The session showed instructional strategies that help students develop critical thinking skills.

The secretary then visited three classrooms, AP U.S. History taught by Erin Brisbin, an 11th grade AVID class taught by Darcy Houston, and AP Literature and Composition taught by Matthew Brisbin. The classrooms modeled the critical thinking strategies that were part of the staff development session.

Afterward, in a short press conference, Secretary DeVos said she was “extremely impressed” with how the instructional strategies were implemented into classroom practice.

“It’s very exciting to see students engaged in their learning like I just observed,” she said. “I thought it was fabulous …. I hope more schools and more teachers can emulate that process.”

After the high school tour, the secretary traveled to the Evergreen Space Museum, where the high school conducts its Engineering & Aerospace Sciences Academy (EASA) pathway classes. 

At the museum, two roundtables featured student and staff discussions. The students talked about college and career readiness and opportunities offered by the high school. The students represented a range of the high school’s Career Pathway programs.

The staff roundtable, which featured a mix of teachers and administrators, covered initiatives like the Science Experiences that provide STEM learning for every grade in every school. The staff also discussed the robust professional development that provides consistent instruction across the district.

“We’re proud of the accomplishments of our students, our staff and our community,” said Dr. Maryalice Russell, superintendent of the McMinnville School District. “As educators, we look for teachable moments, and we see this visit as a way to engage in open dialogue about good teaching strategies and good instructional practices in public education. 

“If others can learn from our successes, we’re happy to share our experiences with the secretary and her staff.”