2018 Grant Recipient – Breakout

Resourceful educators foster critical thinking and teamwork in the classroom

Do you remember your classroom experience when you were in school?

The times where the clock ticked by and you anxiously awaited the bell to release you for lunch or recess? Maybe you even wanted to breakout and go investigate the “real world”, but you just weren’t quite confident, quite ready? Well, here in Washougal, Hathaway Elementary has found a way for students to “Breakout” and have a lot of fun doing it.


By listening to and participating in the discussions with teachers and parents about getting the students to the next level, Heather Christofferson, Librarian at Hathaway Elementary, began her search. The search for that resource that will take the teachers and students to the level of application and to their goal to enhance the student’s use of critical thinking, application and decision making. Through research, and phone interviews, Heather found success stories across the country in New York, California, and right across the river in Portland, Oregon about an innovative educational approach called the “Breakout Box”. The platform of Breakout, created by Breakout Edu was designed to help students become better problem solvers, a life skill that is important as students progress into higher education and adulthood. It not only offers students the opportunity, but helps educators become more interactively engaged with their classrooms and get to know their students. Through video tutorials and 216 Elementary Breakout games in Math, Science, Arts, Social Studies and Language arts and other areas, teachers can create an environment for students to learn teamwork, and allow teachers to see strengths and weaknesses, and other areas where they can help their students find an atmosphere of success.

  • These kits will be used, over and over, with many grade levels within our building and I will again be sharing the possibilities with our Library PLC group to share with all schools. Over time, I see them being used to excite and motivate students for many years to come.

    Heather Christofferson Librarian, Hathway Elementary

Using critical thinking skills, and strategic information acquired through discovery and finally application, the students in Mr. Andrew Schlauch’s 5th grade classroom work together in teams to unlock the “Breakout Box”. Mr. Schlauch’s classroom is the pilot for this program at Hathaway Elementary, and the students are all on board to be “first” in this fun learning experience. The Breakout session begins with a problem and using hints, special light pens, and viewing screens that allow students to read secret messages, and answer questions, the students work together toward gathering information that will lead to variable combinations of the multiple locks to the prize within the box. The caveat…it is a timed activity with a huge clock counting down adding intensity as well as requiring focus and cooperation to gather the information needed to successfully unlock the box. Working toward a conclusion, whether successful or with many attempts, helps prepare the students to recognize a relation between actions, attitudes and results – all within the realm of applying educational or life situational subject matter.


Though it is still under review, plans are underway to train and share this program with other classrooms at Hathaway, expanding on the opportunity created here to engage and improve the classroom experience for students and educators. The Washougal Schools Foundation is delighted to have been a part of the beginning of this program, funding it through their Creative Classroom Grant and wants to recognize the ingenuity and “out of the box” thinking of Heather Christofferson, in her effort of discovering the “Break Out Platform”, and Mr. Schlauch in taking the leap in implementing it into his classroom.


Founded and funded by local businesses and individual donors, the Washougal Schools Foundation’s “Creative Classroom Grant” is just one of the many grant and scholarship opportunities available to students, teachers, and parents in Washougal. From mini-grants for teachers needing funds for additional materials or extended education opportunities, to scholarships to help WHS seniors as they venture forward in their educational pursuits, the Washougal Schools Foundation is a non-profit, non-political resource with no strings. The application process is simple and easy, but if you need assistance the foundation staff are here to answer any questions you may have.


Written by Suzanne Koonce