Gig Harbor is part of the Peninsula School District (PSD), which serves both Gig Harbor proper and the greater Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas.
Quality education is a priority in the PSD: 71 percent of the district’s teachers have master’s degrees, several have doctorate degrees, and 79 have National Board certification, the highest achievement for teachers. In 2015, for the second consecutive year, Washington had the largest group of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in America, including 10 new NBCTs welcomed into the PSD.
Students in Peninsula School District consistently perform in the top 10% in state test results. According to the district’s website, PSD students consistently receive national and state honors in journalism, science, speech and debate, Knowledge Bowl, choir, band, and writing. About 80% of graduates go on to college or technical training and twice as many receive college degrees as the state average. PSD students also consistently score higher than average on state standardized tests as well as SAT reading and math tests.
Early childhood education is also an important focus in the Peninsula School District. The district provides leadership to create connections with local daycares and preschools and pioneered an all-day kindergarten program. The district has been and continues to be innovative in its use of technology at every instructional level, offering students state-of-the-art, hands-on classroom experiences.
PSD has eight elementary school options and four middle school options ensuring each child can find a school that fits his or her needs. For older students, there are three district high schools: Gig Harbor, Peninsula, and Henderson Bay (alternative), as well as a full-time, fully accredited online academy. These schools offer a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) course in all core subjects and college-level courses through Tacoma Community College’s Running Start program, acquiring double credit toward high school and general university requirements. The secondary curriculum is further enriched with a complete range of athletic programs and fine arts options as well as extracurricular programs that challenge and reward students in terms of further intellectual and leadership development.
Seven private schools serve the area as well, including Christian, Catholic, and Montessori, offering education for students from preschool to high school. Some offer scholarships in order to encourage a more diverse student body. Homeschooling is another option; families who choose home-based instruction may select their own curriculum or follow a public school curriculum and receive support from the PSD.
Another factor in the success and popularity of Gig Harbor area schools is the dedication to special needs education. This has led a significant number of families to relocate to the area, knowing their children will receive the highest quality of care and education possible in consideration of their unique needs.
Post-secondary education is also available in Gig Harbor; Tacoma Community College (TCC), a nationally recognized institution of higher learning, is a local option for students. Classes are available at the Gig Harbor campus and at the main campus a short distance across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in Tacoma. Besides accredited classes, numerous personal enrichment courses at TCC are offered to meet a variety of passions for learning. Other options for a postsecondary education close to Gig Harbor include Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College, Pierce College, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Washington Tacoma, a model urban-serving university. All of these fine schools offer accredited programs in a wide variety of advance curricula, are within a 30-minute commute, and enhance the region’s business, social, and cultural climate.