School’s in session at Waimea Canyon School, and Scott Topp will be taking over the principal’s office after 18 years of experience in the Department of Education.
Topp, who lives in Koloa with his wife and son, takes over the top spot at Waimea Canyon after serving as acting principal during the last quarter of the past school year.
He was most recently the vice-principal of King Kaumuali’i Elementary School. From 1985 to 1993 Topp taught driver education and social studies to high schoolers at Kaua’i High and Intermediate, and was a vice-principal from school year 1993-94 to 1998, when he moved to Kalaheo School for one year.
Much of Topp’s experience as an educator comes from working with the upper grades, but he has worked at the elementary school level for the past two years. He moved from Kalaheo School to King Kaumuali’i Elementary School in school year 2000-01 and spent the last quarter of last school year at Waimea Canyon School.
Not only is elementary school different from high school, the distinctions between serving as vice-principal and principal are like comparing apples and oranges, Topp said. A vice principal is chiefly involved with discipline, but as principal he now addresses issues like administering funding and reviewing curriculum.
Topp earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, a professional diploma in social studies and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Hawai’i.
Waimea Canyon School opened for the new school year on Monday for grades K-6 and for 7th grade orientation. All grades, K-8, started classes on Tuesday.
Topp said that he believes all schools in the Kaua’i district have a focus on reading, and reading at grade level by grade 3.
Waimea Canyon is one of three Kaua’i schools identified as needing “corrective action” under the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal act allows low-income students with low academic grades who attend a school that has not made “Adequate Yearly Progress,” to be eligible for supplemental services such as tutoring programs, or to be provided permission and transportation to transfer to another school.
Topp said that Waimea Canyon School will continue to address the low reading scores reflected in past years by implementing special reading strategies, including “Accelerated Reading,” “Reading Mastery” and “Junior Grade Books.”
A program called “Corrective Reading” will assist students in grades 7 -8 who are reading at the lowest levels according to standardized test scores. Each of these programs aims to improve reading fluency, comprehension and test scores.
The Kaua’i Writing Project is an islandwide program that will help students sharpen their writing skills in all subjects, Topp said. Not only will the writing project serve as preparation for standardized testing, the goal is to improve reading comprehension.
Reading is not the only focus of Waimea Canyon. Topp stated that he will take a look at math curriculum for all grades to see what could be done differently to improve test scores.
“With our dedicated staff not only of Waimea Canyon School but the West Side Complex Schools … partnering together on school/complex-wide issues, I am confident that our students will produce the test scores and data to prove that ‘No child has been left behind,” Topp affirmed.