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When choosing a school for your child, proven educational achievement within a district is important. But other factors, such as a supportive and trusting learning environment for all students, can make a huge difference as well.
The rural Penns Valley Area School District (PVASD) aims to provide exactly that environment – one where students strive. The district is dedicated to the well-being of each student, with a goal to produce engaged and motivated life-learners who will become contributing members of a global society.
This small district serves southeastern Centre County, Pennsylvania. Included in this area are the boroughs of Centre Hall and Millheim, along with the townships of Potter, Gregg, Penn, Miles and Haines.
The 254.4-square-mile district has a population of 12,830 according to 2010 federal census data. The district had 1,488 students, 103 teachers and around 80 non-teaching staff in 2013. The district operates five schools; three elementary schools, an intermediate school and a high school.
While the district provides a positive learning environment, it also affords a high-quality education. In a report by the Pittsburgh Business Times, the school ranked among the top 100 school districts out of Pennsylvania’s 500 during the last three available years of the report. The information is based on the school’s PSSA testing scores.
The most recently available School Performance Profile gave the high school high marks as well, as it achieved a 92.1 out of 100 in the state’s study, which reflects on-grade level reading, math and science achievement. Only five percent of the 2,033 Pennsylvania schools with an 11th grade were scored at 90 or above. Additionally, in 2015, 100 percent of the school’s teachers were rated as “Highly Qualified” by the Pennsylvania Department of Education under the federal No Child Left Behind act.
This high-performing district also offers some great educational initiatives. AP courses provide the opportunity for students to earn college credits at select universities. Students also have the option to attend classes at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, a regional vocational school that serves both local high school students and adult learners.
Speaking of non-traditional learners, students on all levels of the learning spectrum are attended to at PVASD. In 2013, the district reported that 202 students, or 13.6 percent of the student population, received special education services. These services, like within the rest of the Commonwealth, are available to learners 3 to 21 years of age. In 2009, the district reported that 38 students, or 2.6 percent of the student population, were gifted. The district offers gifted programs at all school-age levels.
The district also offers out-of-classroom learning opportunities for everyone, with a variety of clubs, activities and sports on hand. Many participating students will have the chance to compete in freshly renovated facilities, as the high school is undergoing an $18 million renovation.
Currently in Phase 3 of the project, it includes a new 1,200-seat gymnasium along with updates to the older gym. The new facility includes a concessions area, LED score table and a video board.
Other areas of the high school have seen or are set to see upgrades, too. Guidance counselors and school nurses have received new offices, and a new band room has been constructed. Also, dressing rooms have been added for theater productions. A new stage, ceiling and seats are slated for the auditorium.
The library is scheduled for a complete renovation as well, including more space for cooperative learning and small-group instruction. Other improvements include school-wide air conditioning, locker upgrades, improved vestibule security and more.
These renovations are just a small part of what makes Penns Valley Area School District great. With dedicated personnel and a clear plan for success, it has a lot to offer prospective students.
Most important, perhaps, is a culture of continuous improvement that furthers achievement for all students.
It’s the kind of environment that creates life-long learners … and makes students feel right at home.