Martinez new principal at Washington

       Starting his first year as principal at Washington Elementary, Terry Martinez appreciates the work of former Principal Pete Cicatelli.
       Learning skills are on the upswing, as shown by a schoolwide 12 percent im-provement on last spring's Colorado Stu-dent Assess-ment Program (CSAP) tests, Martinez noted, and an increasing number of families - many drawn by the Core Knowledge teaching approach - are permitting their students into the 49-year-old Westside school at 924 W. Pikes Peak Ave.
       Half-kiddingly, Martinez said he wishes Cicatelli hadn't left him such big shoes to fill. “It's a little daunting,” he chuckled in a recent interview. “It would be easier to come into something that's not doing so well.”
       Not that the Colorado Springs native and fourth-generation Coloradan has any doubts that more can be accomplished. Upcoming in November is a new election on the district's buildings bond issue, which would mean $1.6 million in school upgrades, including air conditioning, new windows and doors and permanent walls for several classrooms. Martinez said he will do what he can, within the limitations of the law, to explain the needs to the public.
       In terms of academics, test scores, while improved, remain low in comparison with many other schools. And, opportunities exist to build on the Core Knowledge program, which is only going into its third year, he pointed out.
       A constant challenge is helping students who come to the school in need of extra help. It's not unusual for the school to have some students who speak little or no English. And about 83 percent of Washington's students receive free or reduced lunches.
       Regarding such students, “We need to give them a focus and the vision that they can do it too,” Martinez said. “They're from families who work hard for society, but they're just not making as much. We'd like to break the cycle and get at least one of their kids into college.”
       This is Martinez' first job as a principal. He previously taught science and chemistry for seven years at Mitchell High School and has been an assistant principal in District 11 for the past two years.
       One of his key tasks as principal is to “keep distractions away from teachers so they can stay focused on the kids,” he said. “The important thing is the classroom.”

Westside Pioneer article