Best in Class: Manzanita Elementary School

Though it has changed since 1963, Manzanita Elementary School has spent the last five decades preparing students for future endeavors and encouraging community engagement.   

In the Kingman Unified School District, Manzanita Elementary School serves grades kindergarten through fifth. 

Lindsay Wolsey, Manzanita Elementary principal, explained the school serves 750 to 800 students depending on the year, and about 65 percent of the students are on free and reduced lunch.  

“The people care for each other here, it’s a family. I think that’s one of the things that’s really helped us maintain the qualities that we have here at this school from the very get-go. We’ve had a great group of people who have trained the next generation and those people have stuck around here for years and years,” said Scott Taylor, outgoing principal of Manzanita Elementary.

Taylor held the position for three years and will be the principal of Lee Williams High School – also in the Kingman Unified School District – in the upcoming school year.  

The Kingman community works with Manzanita students through a variety of programs including reading groups, gardening lessons and art lessons. 

“We are really blessed to have a community that supports our school in a lot of different aspects,” Wolsey said.

Taylor explained that Manzanita holds charitable events and the students are encouraged to help raise money, and the school always receives support from community members. 

“We live in a fantastic town, Kingman is an amazing town and we have a lot of very generous people who have helped us out throughout the years- community members, business owners,” he said. “When we have a need, we have found that people have just stepped up to the plate.”

Manzanita Elementary is a recipient of state provided Results Based Funding, and used it to purchase Chromebooks for third through fifth grade students and built a computer lab.  

Results Based Funding incentivizes traditional district, magnet, and charter schools to grow their impact and serve more students by offering additional per-pupil funding for “A”-rated public schools, with added dollars for those getting results in low-income communities.

“You know, money’s always tight and when we received that money we were able to put a lot of that money back in the classroom and try to make sure that students had one-to-one instructional technology,” Taylor said.  

Manzanita also used the funding to ensure its students continued to have instruction from talented teachers. 

“I think that culture really helps retain teachers. I think that the [Results] Based Funding was really nice to be able to reward our teachers for their time that they’ve been here at Manzanita and the growth they’ve shown in student learning,” Wolsey said. 

“We were able to continue to attract and retain people by giving stipends out and helping those people out who have been really loyal to our school for many, many years. It also helped us bring in some new people by giving some small sign-on bonuses,” Taylor said.

The funding is not the only factor that attracts and retains teachers and staff members. 

“You know, our teachers will do anything for each other and go to great lengths to support one another- not just our teachers, our staff,” Wolsey said. “So, everyone from leadership to custodians to parent educators, everybody is here to do what’s best for kids. So, I think that culture really helps retain teachers.”

Sierra Ciaramella

Graham Bosch

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