Newcastle Elementary School and Newcastle Elementary School District, located at the "Gateway to the Foothills," first opened to 44 first through eighth-grade students in 1865. Although the building location has moved three times and expanded once, and district enrollment for the elementary school has grown to 480 students, with 151 students enrolled in elementary and 329 students enrolled in charter, it is still a small and close-knit community school serving TK through 8th-grade district and charter students and families.
The mission of the Newcastle Elementary School District is to be committed to work in partnership with students, teachers, parents, and community. Our students are provided with an academic program designed to develop the 21st-century skills necessary to become active and effective global citizens. Our students are supported in a safe, positive learning environment that works to meet all students’ needs, and fosters healthy academic, social, and physical development. Newcastle Elementary School enjoys the reputation of having a strong program with capable and caring staff leading the way. The school provides for academic achievement through a rigorous curricular program focused on the common core standards, arts, and technology.
Differentiated instruction and intervention occur at every grade level through daily "flex" time. In the Newcastle School community, we believe that every child can be successful, but not necessarily in the same way or on the same day and we work together to create opportunities for success for all students. Despite the challenges presented to school districts over the past three years, Newcastle School remains the cornerstone of a lifelong community of learners where students, staff, families, and community work together to ensure that students are successfully prepared for rigorous higher educational coursework, career challenges, and a globally competitive workforce. Staff, families and the community work to develop students who are prepared to the high levels of social, moral, and academic development.
Student demographics of Newcastle Elementary School consist of 69% white, 20% Hispanic or Latino, 7% two or more races, and a small percentage of students listed as African American, Asian, Filipino, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander. 2% of students did not report. 26% of students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, 5% are English Learners, >1% are foster youth or homeless youth, and students with disabilities make up 9% of the population (source: DataQuest 22-23). Demographics have remained fairly consistent from previous years, with a note of a 5% increase in Hispanic and Latino students and a 6% increase in the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
All students in Kindergarten through fifth grade receive weekly instruction in Spanish, P.E., and technology activities. All students in sixth through eighth grades are offered a variety enrichment classes through their homerooms that rotate every trimester, including music, ASB, theater, STEM, art, Spanish, and yearbook and media. The homeroom enrichment program was new to Newcastle starting in August and has proven to be a successful addition to the academic offerings in the older grades. In prior years, music during the school day and band and choir outside of the school day have been offered. Newcastle was unable to fill this teaching position until January and then was able to offer music instruction to grades TK - 5 and choir to grades 4 - 8. Even though this position was funded all school year, the district was not able to secure a music teacher to deliver instruction. Sixth through eighth grade students were able to participate in ASB/leadership, including reestablishing elected officers this year. After school enrichments have significantly increased with offerings of over 30 different categories and topics, including all school sports, STEM, Destination Imagination, art, dance, theater, sign language, gardening, robotics, legos, and so many more. Volunteer participation in classrooms has significantly increased, allowing for expanded access to in-class enrichments and interventions including Word Busters, art docent, small-group leaders, and field trips. The school library reopened on a regular rotation for all grade levels. The growth of programs, field trips, and experiences has been a positive step forward for students, teachers, and families.
Newcastle Elementary School recognizes the social and academic value of a positive environment. A school-wide student recognition program honors exemplary student behavior and citizenship. Students have built on processes that have been in development for the last year, including running morning announcements, participating in events such as "Rock the Test," sitting on Site Council, and lending their voices to campus-wide decision making, to the point that now these are considered routine and not special or extra. The Big Buddy program was maintained, which partners older students with younger students for activities throughout the year. School administration worked hard to create strong relationships with the student body and spent time gathering information from all grade levels both inside and outside of the classroom. In an effort to enhance the quality of learning environment, Newcastle Elementary School District has recently completed three distinct phases of campus modernization and technology upgrades, which included the purchasing of adjoining property and buildings to be able to expand the footprint of the campus and include the district office on site, and complete renovations to the exterior of the campus, the interior classrooms and all office spaces. The district has lived in these new spaces for at least 2 full and complete years now and are starting to move away from considering these as new additions. A partnership was created between Newcastle Elementary School District and the Placer County Parks Department to create a multi-use field for students and the community and that project should be the last modernization project to complete.
The overall feel within the district is that the physical and scheduling changes presented by Covid-19 mandates and direction have ended and a sense or normalcy has resumed. While sicknesses and quarantines may have still occured, programs and facilities were fully restored and reestabished. The challenges that remained from Covid-19 that were most evident within this school year have been the gaps in learning and behavior skills that are still being addressed with new intervention and support strategies in both areas. Newcastle Elementary School District has relished the opportunity to be fully engaged with students, staff, and families for the entirety of the school year.