In her office on JBLM Lewis North, new Beachwood Elementary school principal Meghan Eakin cant say enough about her students and staff.
We have a fabulous group of educators and the students are incredible, Eakin said.
Managing the educational needs of more than 400 students and supervising 35 teachers and staff may seem like a big job, but for Eakin, the new position at Beachwood is a comfortable one. From 2007 to 2010, Eakin was employed by the school as an instructional coach. She was only gone for a year before she found her way back.
It feels very natural for me to be here, Eakin said. I feel really fortunate that I know a lot of the systems that are already in place and some of the people, so I dont have to learn everything at once.
As a Tacoma native, Eakin attended high school at Bellarmine Prep and went on to earn a bachelors degree in education at Saint Martins University. At the University of Washington-Tacoma, she earned her masters degree in education with an emphasis in working with students who are at-risk behaviorally or academically. Eakin believes all families face challenges, but military families are unique.
Our students have so many different experiences. They all come with a story, Eakin said. Theres so much theyre going through, and we need to figure out what those stories are so we can really understand the child. We cant keep pushing academics if we dont know the child.
Beachwood Elementary serves the Lewis North housing communities of Beachwood and Meriwether Landing. With only one bus providing transportation for the school, most kids walk or ride their bikes to school.
My hope is that this school really becomes the hub of this community, Eakin said, My vision is that the community revolves around this place.
Because of the work of 10 teachers who volunteered their time over the summer, that may happen. A family resource center inside the school will have its grand opening Sept. 26. Family members of students can connect with each other through the center. A play area for toddlers and younger children allows parents to visit with one another, and a volunteer job board is planned to help parents, grandparents or other caretakers to volunteer their time at the school.
We know when schools and families partner together, kids do much better, Eakin said.
Eakin feels confident in her staff because of the work they do in the classroom each day. Beachwood teachers and staff recently celebrated substantial gains in Measure of Student Progress test scores, a Washington state test administered to third, fourth and fifth graders.
My core belief here at this school is that every kid needs to have an advocate every day, and its our job to make that happen, Eakin said. We need to look out for their educational needs as well as their social and emotional well-being, and thats our work.