Primary programs stay positive during pandemic

Unique elementary educational programs adapt and overcome during remote learning

We’re proud to offer a host of unique educational programs for our elementary and preschool students, and we’re especially proud of the work Team Bethel has done to keep these much-needed programs running successfully during a global pandemic.

Challenge Program

Everyone learns differently, so we offer several options for our elementary Highly Capable students. The Challenge program is our “pull-out” program. In a normal year, Challenge students would be bussed to Camas Prairie one day a week for in-person learning focused on enrichment and critical thinking.

This year, the program has adapted. Challenge is now exclusively remote and occurs in the afternoon to avoid conflict with each school’s morning live instruction.

Our hardworking Challenge teachers are now finding unique ways to convert their project-based learning to a remote setting.

“I’m amazed at how inventive and adaptive our students are in coming up with new ways to share their projects and ideas,” said Challenge teacher Heather Main.

Camas Prairie Challenge teacher Jenni May says there have actually been a few benefits to moving to remote learning.

“I have gotten to know my students more personally sooner this year because the students love sharing their pets, backyards, and other things that are important to them during our daily welcome,” she said.

WATCH: Fifth grader Cole Rogers is studying the brain as part of his Challenge coursework.

Endeavour Program

The Endeavour program is a full-day, full-week program for Highly Capable students in third through fifth grade. Our Endeavour program is located at Pioneer Valley Elementary, and in normal years students who qualify for the program are bussed from their homes and back.

This year, of course, the program is completely remote. The goal now is for Endeavour teachers to use the exciting technology at their fingertips to find new and effective ways to engage these Highly Capable learners.

“One way we will soon be using technology to enhance our learning will be to create a commercial to ‘sell’ a book they have read,” said teacher Alli Horak. “They will create an important scene from the story as a diorama, film their project with their iPad and turn this into a commercial to promote the book to present to their peers using iMovie.”

Dual Language Spanish Immersion

Our Dual Language Spanish Immersion program gives students a chance to work towards bilingualism as they progress from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Students enrolled in the program, which is housed at Thompson Elementary, will emerge with both Spanish and English Language proficiency in all content areas and will be able to effectively use both languages in all forms of communication.

The shift to distance learning took some getting used to, but Thompson Elementary School Principal Ralph Wisner is happy with the success he’s seeing.

“The teachers and staff of the Dual Language Program are working harder than ever before to ensure that all students and families are accessing school in Spanish. Remote Learning has brought challenges in maintaining and growing Spanish language skills, but parents have been incredible supporters for their children,” he said.

Wisner said Dual Language students are using a variety of digital tools to read, write, speak, and listen in Spanish alongside learning the grade-level skills.


We understand that a child’s education doesn’t begin in kindergarten. To that end, our district offers a number of pre-k services to ensure that every student is ready to succeed when he or she reaches kindergarten.

“Our objective is to promote a smooth and positive transition to kindergarten for all children, with an emphasis on high-needs children and families,” said Sally Keeley, our Director of Special Services.

Bethel works with Pierce County Health Services to offer in-home special education for children with disabilities or delays from birth to three years old. We also have an in-school kindergarten readiness program that includes parent activities, parent involvement and a curriculum designed to meet their individual needs and to prepare them for success in kindergarten.

“We believe that a strong start makes a big difference for students and families, which includes positive transitions and that all children enter kindergarten fully ready to learn,” Keeley said.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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