Yelm Schools Teach More Than Town Youngsters
Editor’s Note: This is the 10th in a series of stories intended to introduce readers to the readers to the people of the southern Puget Sound region. (The Olympian, date unknown)
By Mike Whales
Glen Nutter, superintendent of the Yelm school district, said he believes his system is not only teaching children reading, writing and ’rithmetic, but it is also responsive to the needs of the community at large.
Despite cutbacks forced on the district by a recession-ridden economy Nutter has managed to provide trained people to teach 2,600 students that draw from a district 190 square miles in size, and provide community service programs for another 400 adults.
“We’ve been able to acquire some of the best teachers in the state,” he said, noting that even thought the class are bigger than they were a few years ago, and that some services have fallen by the wayside because of cutbacks, the district is still providing the best in educational benefits.
Maybe it’s the man. Nutter has been in the teaching profession since 1958 and superintendent in Yelm for 10 years. He is well liked in the community and has the trust and respect of the five-member school board.
There are four schools in the district: Yelm High school, Yelm middle school, McKenna elementary school and Southworth elementary school.
The district employs a total of 110 teachers but what is more interesting is the fact that Nutter is able to administer the system with just 8.5 staff positions.
Salaries average around $24,000 a year for teachers Nutter is paid $50,000 a year, about average for a head of a school district that is Yelm’s size.
Nutter is proud of the new high school just west of town but the district isn’t stopping there. About 10 million is earmarked for the school construction program, which will include a new elementary school about half a mile south of Yelm, which will handle 500 students.
he superintendent said these students will be fifth and sixth graders who are being programmed back into the elementary system.
The middle school is also in for considerable renovation, with some buildings slated to be replaced and others being brought up to today’s standards.
Nutter is also proud of two programs in which the school is involved. The school board decided some time ago that the district needed a drug information program, resulting in 17 teachers being put through a special training coarse. Fourteen more are currently undergoing training.
Thurston county commissioners can claim credit for providing a grant for the district in which the training materials and teaching personal are provided. Nutter provides the districts teachers, which also involves paying substitutes to fill in for them while they are being trained.
Once the teachers become proficient they give drug enlightenment classes to students and the students are later tested on what they learn.
The other program Nutter said he is proud of is the system’s adult education program, which at present has 400 regular attendees.
“The people of this community have given us overwhelming support,” Nutter said, adding that hundreds hours of volunteer help are provided by the people who have come in to teach such courses as welding and computer programming.
Other volunteers assist the teaching staff, Nutter said, “We have 120 of these people who come in every week.”
They tutor students, correct papers, supervise in the lunchroom and help out in the library, he said
“I think the public feels this facility belongs to them because we have a board that is responsive to the citizen,” Nutter said.
They also seem to have a superintendent that is responsive to the citizens.
Yelm School District
Boundaries: The district covers 190 square miles and is bounded on the south by the Bald Hills, and on the west by Ft. Lewis and the Nisqually Indian Reservation. To the east the district runs to Lake Patterson and to the north into Pierce County, including McKenna and Roy within its boundaries.
Number of Schools: 4
Number of students: 2,600
Number of teachers: 110
Number of administrators: 8 Superintendent: Dr. Glen Nutter.
School board members: Dr. William Nichols, president; Mrs. Marion Nelson, Vice- president, and Eugene Judy, Larry Nielsen and Harry Petersen.
School board meetings: Once a month at 7:30 p.m. at the district administration office at 404 Yelm Ave. W. in Yelm Middle school.
District office: Box 476, Yelm, WA. 98597, 458-5731.