Superintendent's Blog

  • February 24, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 2/24/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    I hope this note finds you enjoying a joyful and robustly reflective winter week. I am so relieved that the snow flurries in the weather are occurring while school is not in session. That groundhog certainly has been correct again ;>) It is so hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of February with just over three months of our current school year left. I am often reminded that as I get older, the days are long, but the years are short. Time seems to pass ever swifter …


    As we continue to be responsive to current events in our country, for example -- (In May 2016, the Federal Education and Justice Departments issued guidance on transgender students. The guidance required that schools treat students “consistent with the student’s gender identity.” On Wednesday evening, that guidance was rescinded by the Federal Education and Justice Departments.) Given the change in position at the federal level on this subject, and to support understanding of this conversation, I want to share today's statement from our Governor regarding the topic of protections for transgender students in our state;


    “I strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s reversal of federal protection for transgender students. Washington state will continue to be a place where all children can feel safe from discrimination, harassment or assault based on their gender identity. Our state’s law, the Anderson-Murray Act, passed in 2006, will remain in place and is unchanged by the new federal guidance. And just last year our state Human Rights Commission did important work to put rules in place that uphold the rights of our transgender students and residents. Our schools will protect transgender students and ensure they have access to the same facilities, classes, and the opportunities as other students. We will continue to stand together to protect some of our most vulnerable students - we know that these young people face high rates of bullying, harassment and even violence. We have a long way to go to make sure that all our students can learn safely and free from discrimination.” --- Governor Jay Inslee


    Clearly this is a topic that will continue to be discussed and debated at both the state and national levels. According to today's OSPI press release, "Washington state law, though, continues to protect transgender students from discrimination in school, which includes names and pronouns, dress codes, student participation in sports and physical education, harassment, and students' use of restrooms and locker rooms. The federal guidance will not affect state law. In 2006, sexual orientation and gender identity were added as protected classes to the Washington State Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). Four years later, the Legislature passed a law (codified as Revised Code of Washington 28A.642) explicitly protecting students in Washington public schools against discrimination. As a result of that law, OSPI in February 2012 issued formal guidelines entitled, “Prohibiting Discrimination in Washington Public Schools.” School districts are required to comply with the guidelines – and have been doing so successfully for five years. The new guidance from the Education and Justice Departments states that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” In short, our state laws continue to protect our transgender students." As for us here in Northshore, we will continue to abide by the law and will continue to nurture an educational environment that is safe and free of discrimination for all students and staff. We recognize that our diversity is a strength and a growing part of our foundational strategic plan from which teaching and learning flourish in this great district.


    At our recent Board meeting, we received great news. A big thank you goes to the Northshore Schools Foundation for granting $73,000 in project funding for the Northshore School District. I would like to share a few of the projects funded in this round which include books for kindergartners, computer coding support, innovative classroom grants, national board certification for teachers, access to activities for homeless students, and much more. We are so blessed to have this dedicated group of amazing individuals who tirelessly support our schools and community. Thank you !!


    In other fascinating news, astronomers have recently discovered seven planets that are similar in size to our Planet Earth. They might even have conditions on them that would support life. This news feature is certainly one that draws one in on a reflective winter break. Imagine the possibilities .... What if there is another universe out there where people are interested in a relationship with our school district ?? What if one of these planets has solved traffic problems ?? How do we connect with them ?? What did their groundhog say about the coming spring, or not ?? Infinite inquiries really... So exciting...


    In news closer to home, I had a great meeting yesterday with our district custodial team. We were able to gather at the new high school, North Creek High School; every time I am there, I am even more impressed with the design and feel of this campus. I want to share that we are so blessed to have our custodial team supporting our educational work here in this great district. The team is so dedicated to our safety and welfare, both student and staff, and their hard work is critical to our success as a district. Thank you !!


    In closing, I trust that you will find time over the next several days to enjoy simple pleasures, quiet times, and joyful outbursts with those closest to you. These are our best days...


    Warmest regards,

    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • February 17, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 2/17/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    What a fantastic week we are having (especially with no weather related interruptions ;>). It is also great to look forward to a celebratory Presidents Day weekend and break week. One of the presidents honored this coming week is President Abraham Lincoln, who stated unequivocally; "If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted." As is often the case, history can be a powerful reminder of courage, wisdom, and the powerful often hard fought lessons we can learn from today. Here in Northshore, we will not be a house divided. Together all things are possible...


    I want to bring you up to date on several items, the first of which is our continued strategic planning work. I would like to share a status report on the Strategic Planning Process. We are a bit more than half way through the process and are moving into the phase that is focused on hearing directly from each of you. That is correct, in the next couple of months, each school and department will have the opportunity to see and hear about the current draft of the strategic plan and provide feedback that will come back to the core planning team for integration into the final draft of the strategic plan that will be taken in front of the Board of Directors in May. Over the past several weeks, we have been more focused on instructional strategies and the classroom support. We held two days in early February with our Instructional Focus Team comprised of teachers, para-educators, counselors, TOSA's and principals primarily (with over 100 folks present). This team's work is essential to the success of the strategic plan as the plan has student learning at the core and we recognize that the fundamental work of the district at its core occurs in the classroom. I look forward to our journey together with this process. Thank you to all who are lending their voice, it matters. I am so excited about the possibilities ....


    In the last two weeks, as the transition work continues, we've met with Junior High and High School principals to go over the teacher transfer interest survey data and secondary vacancies. We moved around 51 teachers, mostly from the elementary level to middle school, and junior high to high school. Before the first of the year, we transferred 50 teachers to North Creek High School based on the teacher interest survey. Overall, we've transferred around 100 teachers so far. By the end of the week, all of the teachers transferring will have been notified. Remaining high school vacancies were posted for transfer last week, and remaining middle school vacancies will be posted soon after the February break. There were many elementary teachers who wanted to transfer to middle school who weren't selected because of seniority or because where and what they were interested in teaching wasn't available. We'll continue to use the list as new vacancies occur through the spring and into the summer, so there will be other opportunities for teachers who want to move to middle school. Continued transition updates will appear weekly.


    There is transition work continuing with Jeff Sherwood reporting that elementary principals will be getting information about their staff by the end of this week. Elementary-wide, with known retirements, resignations and transfers of elementary teachers, we are not overstaffed, although there will be some individual schools that will need to displace teachers. We'll be discussing the approach to addressing elementary school overstaffing with the Association, but we believe that we can use our current displacement and reassignment process to good effect in this situation. We are feeling positive about progress on teacher reassignment so far, given that it is only mid-February and we're able to start making some informed estimates of our hiring needs.


    In exciting academic news, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has named ten Northshore School District seniors as National Merit Finalists. Finalists represent less than one-half of 1 percent of the 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test nationwide. Our entire district staff from kindergarten through the senior year of high school, can be so proud of these accomplishments. High expectations coupled with high support lead to amazing accomplishments. These high achieving students are:


    Bothell High School — Saisriram (Sidd) S. Gurajala
    Inglemoor High School — Simon C. Duchastel de Montrouge, Serafina M. Fortiner, Jeffrey J. Maxwell, Natalie G. Smith, Nina S. Xiong and Edward R. Yang
    Woodinville High School — Jason Wien, David Hewett and Nathan Pietraszak


    These hard working finalists will be considered for more than 7,400 National Merit Scholarship Awards to be awarded this spring and often receive other offers because of their standing as National Merit Finalists.


    Last night, 300 of our most talented sixth grade musicians performed an "All-District" honors concert in the NSJH gym. These students audition to form three ensembles -- a string orchestra, choir and a concert band. Guest conductors were hired to rehearse with these young musicians over two evening practices (normally three, but one evening was cancelled due to a school weather closure). The Honors Concert was then presented for 900+ parents, families and community members. This is an annual event and Northshore Music Coordinator, Ted Christensen, reports that it has been going on for over thirty-five years. Many of the district music staff were in attendance and the evening was a positive reflection of the Northshore music program and our district as a whole. Well done !!


    If it seems like Groundhog Day again, the 2016-17 school calendar has been modified again because of school cancellations on February 6 and 7 due to inclement weather. When the school calendar was negotiated for 2016-17, NSEA and the District agreed to make up school cancellations at the end of the negotiated school calendar, on Friday, June 23 and Monday, June 26. We've contacted NSEA to confirm our mutual understanding that the last day of school will now be June 26 and the teacher grading day will move to June 27. We have also notified NEOPA, Bus Drivers and Food Service employees of the change to see if there were any concerns or questions. We've made all the modifications to the school calendar, which I've attached. And so, we trust that the weather will hold for no further challenges ;>)


    And so, it is Black History Month and as I am out in the schools, I am seeing a variety of ways in which this topic is being brought to life in the classroom. "The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. As the History Channel site observes, "Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of 'Negro History Week,' the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history." A resource you might review is I also appreciate that many schools are working in lessons and related topics year round as a matter of course.


    In a review of our current enrollment chart progress, Chris Brenengen, our Director of Finance, recently prepared a report that shows the actual monthly enrollment (as full-time equivalent, FTE) that was reported at Northshore for the last four years plus this year's current monthly enrollment through February 2017. In addition, the report displays the budgeted annualized average FTE of 20,700 (royal blue line) as well as the updated projected annualized average enrollment of 20,823 (green line) based on a five-year historical average as of October. This is an essential report for us as it tracks our student enrollment to budget and annual projections. This data is important to track as it affects all aspects of our operations including facilities planning, budgeting and all staffing, etc. Looking at this report regularly enables us to monitor and adjust when necessary as the year progresses. Our actual current head count is 21,383 students. The trend line is continuing to grow more than in prior years over the course of the year.


    Interestingly, I have to insert a provocative article on the topic of mathematics;>) The article entitled Math Myths tells a powerful story about one of the most integral content areas we master in schools. According to Ebony McGee, "There is so much more that math can do. Math knowledge can play a strong role in social justice, in terms of providing ways to understand structural inequities in our society. We need to change the way that math is marketed so that math careers will appeal to a broader range of students." This is an interesting article and really highlights contemporary thought on mathematics and a good read.


    And so, I will end with a quote from one of my favorite presidents; “Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength.” -- Theodore Roosevelt. And last; but, certainly not least, "My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth." -- Abraham Lincoln


    Enjoy a joyful, reflective, and renewing break,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • February 10, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 2/10/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    Well, brrrrrrrr.... I think we are done with the cold frigid winter weather. It seems as though the groundhog has had the last laugh this winter as we clearly have had a continuation of the winter weather. Even today, with the unbelievable torrential downpour and flooding roads and fields, I am really looking forward to a more spring-like atmosphere. I want to provide our heartfelt thanks to all the transportation staff and facilities staff who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe throughout this recent weather system. It is so important to recognize their efforts as these staff have put in countless hours over the last week. I also so appreciate the efforts of our office staff across the district as they have fielded countless phone calls on weather-related topics and remained so positive and helpful. Thank you. Well done !!


    Even with all the weather-related activities abounding, we continue to stay focused and engage in outstanding instructional and support work all across the district. As you might guess, we also will soon realize the calendar updates of adding two more days to the end of the school year. We are likely now into the last week of June. Hopefully, we will not need to contemplate a school Independence Day activity ;>) I will provide an updated calendar as soon as all the parties to the calendar conversation have concluded their deliberations.


    I want to provide a shout out to all our hardworking school counselors in the district. "National School Counseling Week 2017, "School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential," will be celebrated from Feb. 6-10, 2017, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career." We are proud to celebrate National School Counseling Week every first full week in February. Thank you.


    In Business Office news, our state audit officially began on Tuesday, January 31st. The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) performs an audit of the district on an annual basis. The audit team consists of Courtney Amonsen, Heide Brillantes, Sarrah Superville, and Anthony Squires. They are based out of the Business Office and can be contacted at (425) 408-6018. Joli Valentino, our Director of Accounting, will be coordinating the audit on the district’s behalf. During the course of the audit, she will try to provide schools and departments advance notice of any scheduled visits or information pertaining to their audit plan.

    Auditors will be looking back at fiscal year 2015-16, and will be performing the following:
    Single Audit - assessment of internal controls and compliance over federal programs
    Financial Statement Audit - determines if financial statements are accurate and complete
    Accountability Audit – assessment of how local governments manage, use, and safeguard public resources.

    Lydia Sellie reports, that in last year’s audit exit conference, SAO complimented staff on their willingness to work with the audit team and provide timely information throughout the audit. Well done !!


    I had a great visit to Arrowhead Elementary School this morning and had the opportunity to visit third grade classrooms and do some coding. I must confess that the third graders were much more adept at coding than I was though I think I can pick it up if I invest a bit more time on it ;>) When you stop and think about it, we are doing remarkable things today in education. Children in third grade today are accessing tools and information I know I did not access in third grade. I also so enjoyed the salmon and watershed project as well as the planetary lesson. I often think that these topics of high interest are a real gateway to student engagement and academic achievement. I also felt a bit nostalgic for poor Pluto, the now planet wannabe of sorts. So many changes....


    I am now on my way to meet with the district librarians who are working so hard to provide necessary and integral supports for our students across this amazing district. It is so helpful to learn more about the role we each play in the success of our students here in Northshore. Following that, I am attending a Reading Campout of sorts. Thankfully, it will be an indoor campout, as I am still a bit weather weary. This event at Hollywood Hill sounds like a fun time for our young readers and families to enjoy a good book. I am looking forward to it.


    Finally, I have been asked to re-send this information again -- Given that the weather continues to be challenging, I want to provide a reminder as several of you have asked again how best to tune into my Twitter account for late breaking school weather plans and other news so I will include the directions again. Visit my page and follow me at @Northshore_Supt . Please feel free to send me questions, suggestions, and innovative ideas. I love to hear from students, staff, parents, and community partners. Like the Thursday memo and my blog, Twitter is another tool that will help us all stay connected and share information. As you ‘follow my Twitter account’ you too can be among the first to know about school snow closures, inclement weather issues, wildlife challenges, safety messages, etc. I will also be sharing up to date news on what’s new around the district. The really good news is that I continue to be limited to 140 characters in those Twitter communications ;>) !!


    Well, after the Super Bowl halftime show put on by Lady Gaga, we are now inspired for our Northshore Welcome Back to School event this coming fall. In our eternal quest to take our welcome back game to the next level, we have a new standard to which we might aspire.... Stay tuned for updates ;>)


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • February 3, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 2/3/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    And a Happy Groundhog Day to each and all. Well, it looks like we will need to keep the scarves, hats, and mittens at the ready. In his annual official poem release, Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil affirmed; “It’s mighty cold weather, you’ve been braving. Is it more winter or is it spring that you’re craving? Since you’ve been up all night and starting to tottle, I, Punxsutawney Phil, shall not dawdle,” the proclamation read. “My faithful followers, I could clearly see a beautiful, perfect shadow of me. Six more weeks of winter, it shall be!” In a recent CBS News report, it was confirmed that records dating to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 103 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times - including last year. In an interesting twist of events, our neighbors to the north had a very different outcome with the prediction of Quebec's Fred la marmotte predicting an early spring. Stay tuned as we await news from around the world ;>)


    In other weather related news, due to our earlier inclement winter weather, we have had to adjust our school calendar. So, the 2016-17 school calendar was recently modified because of the school cancellation on December 9 due to inclement weather. You may wonder how we make decisions to modify the calendar. NSEA and district representatives start the process by negotiating and agreeing on start and end dates, break periods, early release days and non-student teacher work days. Once we have that framework, we solicit input from other employee groups and then send the calendar to the school board for its approval. When the school calendar was negotiated for 2016-17, we agreed to identify the two days immediately following the last day of school as "emergency make up days". According to Jeff Sherwood, this makes rescheduling the December 9 snow day straight-forward. We contacted NSEA to confirm our mutual understanding that the last day of school will move from June 21 to June 22, and the teacher grading day will move from June 22 to June 23. We then notified other school-term employee groups of the change to see if there are any concerns or questions. Finally, we made the modifications to the calendar and posted the revised calendar version on our website (and hope it doesn't snow again).


    I want to take this moment to address the current topic of immigration and how we support undocumented students, immigrant students, and their families here in the Northshore School District. First and foremost, I want to say that for me this note is not a political statement, rather it is a human rights and educational access conversation. As this topic and its resultant impact continue to be debated, litigated, and likely adjusted; we need to remember that our students and families most impacted will naturally have anxiety. In recent correspondence from our PSESD, the following has been reported about our current climate and the daily experience for many immigrant students and their families: 1) Students are scared for their family and their own safety; 2) Students want safe spaces where they can express their concerns, with people who will support them and empathize with them and their family; 3) Families are scared that they’re at threat of deportation and wonder what will happen to their children if they get detained and/or deported, including undocumented parents with undocumented children and U.S.-born citizen children.


    Interestingly, the data here in Washington shows that we have approximately 250,000 undocumented immigrants with the following breakdown: 64% from Mexico, 3% from Guatemala, 3% from India, 3% from Vietnam, 3% from Korea, and 14% from other countries. Of these students, 21,000 are under age of 16 (~9% of total) and 38,000 are between 16-24 (~17% of total). To put this into clear terms, an elementary school classroom has on average two students with an undocumented parent enrolled. Also, there are 43,000 undocumented people in Washington who are eligible for DACA, and approximately 30,000 have been approved. There is uncertainty on what will happen to DACA and potentially all of these 30,000 people are at threat to lose their work-permit and protection from deportation.


    While there continue to be multiple legal debates and likely further clarification coming on this critical topic, it is important to note that here in our house, we will continue to support each student and their family regardless of their immigration status. As we do with many other sensitive and emotionally challenging topics, we will continue to provide the high support we are noteworthy for here in Northshore. We also, as the leadership both in and out of the classroom in this great district must remember, remain resolutely positive and hopeful about our collective future. We must believe that good and right decisions for all will prevail and that we in the absence of news to the contrary will continue to believe in the freedom and basic human rights this country was founded on and still stands on today. We must be able to continue to have conversations about difficult and challenging topics for as long as we are in conversation, we are in community. When we stop talking about tough topics with each other, for fear we might say the wrong thing or the right thing the wrong way, we lose an opportunity to find balance and resolution to complex situations and ideas. Let's extend one another grace regarding this discourse and other complex topics integral to the success of our district, community, and nation. It matters to many in ways large and small and models our capacity for compassionate conversation for the young people we teach.


    I want to provide a strategic planning update. Today, we completed the instructional focus group work with over a hundred teachers, para-educators, and principals working together on these important instructional tenets to support our collective future work over the past two days. The core planning group met on Tuesday all day and we held three community forum evening events this week, one at each feeder comprehensive high school. The alignment committee comprised of community leaders and staff also met on Wednesday morning. Together this week, another thirty intensely focused hours have been devoted to this comprehensive body of work. In the coming months, each school and department within the district will have an opportunity to review and provide input to the plan prior to it going to the Board for final approval in May. Once approved and in place, it will guide us for the upcoming three to five years. Imagine the possibilities...


    I am also trying to provide a transition tidbit embedded in each upcoming Thursday Thought as we keep this important transition work front and center for the coming months. With graduation as an ultimate goal for every student, research indicates that 9th grade course failure is an evidence-based early warning indicator. Support of these struggling students is critical. According to research conducted by the University of Chicago (2014),* students on track after their 9th grade year are 4 times more likely to graduate. Further, their research found 9th grade success was the single best determinant of whether or not a student would graduate; it is a more accurate predictor of graduation than student test scores, personal characteristics, or background. I am so grateful we are working intentionally on this important transition step. It matters.


    I want to say that this past weekend, I had the real pleasure of attending two amazing dramatic productions at two of our high schools. The production at WHS of The Crucible was so well done, I felt transported back in time to colonial America in the northeast. Kudos to the cast, crew and staff that supported this wonderful, (yet at times dark and depressing) dramatic production. The next evening I had a chance to visit IHS and be part of the audience for Arsenic and Old Lace. As I recently tweeted; so many talented performers, such mayhem well played... Also, kudos to the cast, crew and staff that supported this wonderful production. I must say that while these are both iconic plays, and the performances were especially amazing; I am looking forward to an upbeat dramatic production this spring ;>)


    This evening, I will be attending two special events. The first will be a discussion on mental health,“Disease vs. Disgrace: Conversations to End Mental Illness Stigma” hosted at EvergreenHealth Medical Center starting at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This is such an important topic for us as we work with many children and families who are experiencing mental illness or the effects of mental illness. The event highlights Todd and Laura Crooks and a panel of experts, and features the documentary, Chad’s Legacy: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness, followed by a discussion of what is needed to make sure others battling mental illness get the support, treatment and opportunities that they deserve. Such an important topic and imperative for us to address as a district and community.


    The second event will be the annual Comfy Concert held at NPAC. The Comfy Concert (co-sponsored by SEPAC and the BHS Music Dept.) is a free music concert for children/adults, with or without special needs, their friends and families. According to Ms. Marie Juchau, "Music students perform their Solo and Ensemble music pieces and the concert is a time for our children and special needs community to dance, sing and have no worries about any noises they will make! Lights are dimmed a little." Both Mrs. Sheri Erickson, the vocal teacher at Bothell High School, and Mr. Phil Dean, the instrumental teacher at Bothell High School, continue to be very supportive of this concert. I am looking forward to attending another wonderful night of the performing arts that are so outstanding here in our Northshore District.


    In ending, I want to share a favorite provocative quote; "Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway." --- Mary Kay Ash


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (1)
  • January 27, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 1/27/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    Well, another fantastic winter week is flying by. I find it incredulous to realize that February is just around the corner. While winter is often thought of as a reflective season and one of anticipation given that spring will no doubt come sooner than we think; it is also a time that can be stressful for students, staff and families. The end of the first semester and final exams, grades and other accountability events certainly generate more anxiety than we might otherwise experience. I so appreciate the care and compassion each of you share with our students and each other during these winter days. Spring will come...


    This week, we celebrated Board Recognition Month with a Proclamation from our Governor Jay Inslee. This well deserved recognition honors the work of this volunteer elected board. This marks the 22nd annual celebration of this Board recognition around the country and coincides with the National School Board recognition event(s). In the WSSDA news release, they note "All told, Washington’s school directors govern districts with more than one million students, a combined annual budget of about $11 billion, and employ 160,000 people. These volunteer school board members play a crucial role in developing policies and making tough decisions on complex educational and social issues. These issues affect the entire state. They are also directly accountable to the citizens in their districts, serving as a vital link between members of the community and their schools." We join Gov. Inslee in thanking the elected board of the Northshore School District for their countless hours of dedicated work and their commitment to the children of this great community and district. It matters.


    As I continue my quest to visit each and every classroom in the district by year's end (approximately 255 visited already), I spent the morning at Woodinville High School this morning. What a blessing to have this time in our amazing schools. I continue to be so impressed with our students and staff in ways both large and small. The insights shared, robust discourse and thoughtful reflection with students and staff were a great way for me to start my Thursday. So many interesting classroom experiences, languages spoken and authentic engagement. I look forward to my visit with Primary Center kindergartners tomorrow ;>)


    And having mentioned kindergartners, I would like to share with you our plans for kindergarten program placement for the coming year. We recognize the importance of making decisions thoughtfully and also in a timely fashion so that families and staff have plenty of lead time for necessary childcare decisions and program placement planning should moves be required. I am pleased to share that we are closer to our goal of having all kindergartners at their home school. At nineteen of our twenty elementary schools, we will have all-day kindergarten programs for their resident school kindergartners beginning in September 2017. Fernwood Elementary is the notable exception and their kindergartners are slated to attend Frank Love Elementary School. The growth is simply too rapid for us to accommodate the space required in the north end schools. I want to also share that we had to make a difficult decision to enable Shelton View to have their resident kindergartners attend for the upcoming year. The only way we could make space to accommodate this scenario was to move the EAP program currently at Shelton View Elementary to Lockwood Elementary. I want to share that these were not easy decisions nor ones that we take lightly. I want to commend the EAP teachers, school staff(s) from both schools, principals from both schools, PTSA leadership and students from both schools for their thoughtful and gracious acceptance of what is a less than ideal outcome given the work ahead to support this program move. The focus throughout by all parties has been one of putting student needs and equitable access front and center -- so inspiring. So too, the teachers, staff and families at Fernwood Elementary have been understanding and gracious about the need for kindergarten program placement. Thank you.


    As part of the on-going work related to grade reconfiguration, NSEA and Human Resources representatives will be meeting with high school principals tomorrow to review anticipated high school vacancies and teacher interest survey information. Based on this information, they will determine which teachers will be able to transfer from the junior high or elementary level to high school. Teachers who are selected and their principals will be notified next week about the transfers. We recently completed a similar process to transfer approximately 50 teachers to North Creek High School. The next phase of transfers will happen on February 13 with junior high principals and will primarily involve moving elementary teachers who want to teach at the middle school level next year. Our goal is to notify these teachers prior to February break. One of the guiding principles of the transfer process is to ensure, as much as possible, that teachers are assigned to schools based on their preferences for location, level and subject. Consistent with this principle, we will continue to use the interest survey information to inform transfers as vacancies occur through the spring and early summer. This is a large undertaking, so special thanks to all parties involved !!


    And so, I am looking forward to attending the dramatic production of The Crucible tonight at Woodinville High School where 26 of Woodinville High School’s Advanced Acting and Play Production students will stage this classic play of human struggle connected to the Salem witch trials. Arthur Miller sets quite the story and I am looking forward to our local performance replete with student stage and set management as well as acting. It is a performance with so many involved both on and off the stage. While I do have the Bothell City Public Works Task Force meeting first this evening, I can't wait for the curtain to rise later....


    As I was contemplating the coming days, I came across this quote and am reminded of its power for us today…“When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.” -- Chief Seattle (1780-1866) Leader Of The Suquamish And Duwamish Native American Tribes


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • January 20, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 1/20/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    Well, this week I feel more like a duck than most any recent week I can think of this winter, flippers and all. Such slashing rain that is drenching us and saturating our foliage. It certainly makes walking the dogs a thrilling experience. On another note, as the New Year has rolled in, I am sure many of us have made resolutions that have the hope of improving our lives in some way or another. I can't help but share that one of mine was to better organize books, music, etc. at home. I purchased this great book on organizing (well recommended) and now even before January is over, I can't locate it ;>) I suspect that in time, no doubt the right time, I will relocate it. In the meantime, I am still resolved to improve despite the odds. Sigh.... I am certainly wishing you better luck with your resolutions, and trust you will be more successful.


    This week we had the the opportunity to do our Board SIP visit to Canyon Park Junior High. The leadership team provided an amazing and informative presentation and our classroom visits were inspiring. The SIP visits continue to provide a great opportunity for collaborative conversation regarding the amazing work going on in our schools. The visits also highlight the various partnerships supporting our work here in the Northshore School District. Like much of Northshore, the composition of Canyon Park's community has changed significantly in recent years. During this time, CPJH has continued to close achievement gaps by focusing collaboratively as a staff on the needs of the whole child. This year, CPJH became the first junior high in the district to qualify for and receive Title 1 support. This was also their first year of school-wide MTSS implementation, which has improved the campus climate while drastically reducing discipline incidents, as you can see on the attached presentation slides. CPJH is working hard on preparations for the middle school transition and feel the school's climate and culture are in a great place for this evolution. This is such exciting work, and this is such an exciting time to be doing it. Well done !!


    Just last week, I had the thrill of attending my first Northshore Poetry Slam event. Leslie Connor, the Woodin Elementary teacher organizing the event, reports that about 80 - 5th and 6th graders from both the single and dual language classes participated in the slam. Students have been working on their poetry since late October and have all worked super hard. A wide variety of poetic forms were represented; including Haiku, narrative, and rhyme. The diversity of topics and student voice encouragement gave the opportunity to these young poets to speak their truth. The poems showcased a kaleidoscope of languages. Students wrote poems from their hearts; some true, some imagined. Some poems were written as joint projects. All 166 students have additional poems included in an 80-page anthology. Well done !!


    Earlier this week, I met with the district counseling staff at the new North Creek High School. What an amazing group of individuals dedicated to the counseling care and support of each of our students. I am so impressed by their current book study on the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model and its successful implementation. I also appreciate copies of the text so I can follow along and support their progress in this progressive and timely work. Staying current with research is so important for us as a district as it grounds us in best practice and enables us to continue to provide the exceptional standard of education that Northshore is known for. We are a better district as a result of all these efforts and are blessed to have this caring and compassionate team supporting our students and staff.


    As I continue to get to know all of our staff in the district, I also had the pleasure of meeting with all the amazing district kitchen managers and assistant kitchen managers this week at the Kenmore Library. What a dedicated and proud group of staff who work tirelessly to support our students' nutritional needs which in turn support student academic and activity performance. The relationships built with students and staff are such a necessary part of a healthy staff and district family. I also learned a great deal about the job challenges and diverse menu options available here in Northshore. We are indeed blessed to have this committed and caring team supporting our students and staff.


    Chris Brenengen, our Director of Finance, recently prepared a report that shows the actual monthly enrollment (as full-time equivalent, FTE) that was reported at Northshore for the last four years plus this year's current monthly enrollment through January 2017. In addition, the report displays the budgeted annualized average FTE of 20,700 (royal blue line) as well as the updated projected annualized average enrollment of 20,823 (green line) based on a five-year historical average as of October. This is an essential report for us as it tracks our student enrollment to budget and annual projections. This data is important to track as it affects all aspects of our operations including facilities planning, budgeting and all staffing, etc. Looking at this report regularly enables us to monitor and adjust when necessary as the year progresses. Our actual current head count is 21,355 students. While this is great news, it also provides challenges for us in terms of space and program. More to come on this topic...


    I had a very informative and productive student council meeting at Arrowhead Elementary School this week. The students came prepared with their questions for me and also had some great suggestions on how we might improve our support for their learning experience. It is always so energizing to spend time with our students. I learn so much and am inspired by their unique sense of wonder, a great reminder for me...


    I want to send another reminder on the strategic planning process topic. We are planning several Community Forums which provide a different level of feedback to our process. The entire Northshore community is invited to participate in forums at the end of January that will help direct the district’s Strategic Plan. All are welcome: from parents, to retirees, to students – anybody of any age or background with an interest in education and our district. Participants will learn about our process, and then will be engaged in small groups to define district priorities. All forums will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on the following dates: Monday, Jan. 30: Woodinville High School; Tuesday, Jan. 31: Bothell High School; and Wednesday, Feb. 1: Inglemoor High School. The district’s “Core Planning Team” will work with the community feedback as it finalizes the Strategic Plan, due in late spring 2017. Teachers and principals, as well as district support staff, will be working on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 to develop our instructional practice strategic planning focus, while the core planning team meets on Jan. 31. It is not too late to have your voice join the many who are informing the future path of our great district.


    As we approach another fantastic January weekend, I find these thoughts inspiring, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” — Oprah Winfrey (born 1954) I so appreciate that each of you might contemplate this, and I am so grateful you are called to work and thrive here in Northshore.


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • January 13, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 1/13/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    Brrr... It has definitely been scarf and mitten weather this week. And, what an unbelievable full moon this morning. It seemed so large !! I was really intrigued so I looked up the type and size this morning. It is technically characterized as a Near Full Moon (Waning Gibbous) and is 99.8% of its visible size. It is so comforting to have nature be predictive and amazing. Further, there are so many amazing things going on and the energy is contagious. There are multiple celebrations of the upcoming holiday commemorating the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the music, readings and drama are so inspiring.


    I want to bring you up to date on several items, the first of which is our continued strategic planning work. The Board reviewed a status report on the Strategic Planning Process this past week. We are approximately half way through the process and are moving into the phase that is more focused on instructional strategies and the classroom support. We will have two days in early February with our Instructional Focus Team comprised of teachers, para-educators, counselors, TOSA's and principals primarily. This team's work is essential to the success of the strategic plan as the plan has student learning at the core and we recognize that the fundamental work of the district at its core occurs in the classroom. I look forward to our journey together with this process. Thank you to all who are lending their voice, it matters.


    Another group that is beginning its work on curriculum topics is our K-12 District Math Committee. Obadiah Dunham is leading this group as we work to continue to review and refine our outstanding district-wide math program as we continue to be responsive to the changing needs of our students and the workplace. Interestingly, it has been stated that math limits 84% of our career choices so this is indeed a foundational core skill and an integral core element of our curriculum. I attended the initial meeting this week and provided a charge for the math committee work expected over the next two years. It is an ambitious work plan and one that will build on our strengths already present here in Northshore. Thank you to all those who have committed to this important work over the next several years; it matters.


    The Board also approved several new policies at their recent meeting. The newly approved Gender Equity Policy outlines our district approach to the topic of gender equity and cites the legal references supporting this policy. This is work that has been evolving over the past several years and supports our educational commitment to inclusiveness. Another policy approved by the Board this week is one dedicated to the Integrated Pest Management system here in the Northshore School District. This policy defines, outlines and regulates the use of high hazard pesticides on district property and encourages a safe and healthy environment for students, staff, and those who use our facilities.


    In an update on the McCleary Case and emerging information, I would like to share the current projected chart of potential financial impact for our district. In many ways I feel it is not as impactful unless we understand the possible impact to us -- us here in this amazing Northshore School District -- so here we go. Based on recent statewide McCleary-based data charts, our fiscal budget staff reports that the difference in current state funding and the McCleary "trajectory" - see Northshore progress chart - would generate nearly $119M per year in additional state funding for us here in our district. Remember, our State constitution preamble states, "It is the paramount duty of the State to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." We look forward to progress in meeting this constitutional obligation.


    A reminder that this coming Monday is the observance and celebration of the birth, the life, and the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many in our staff family and community are planning to observe the day as “A day on NOT a day off”. Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” No doubt we continue to be inspired by the epic I Have a Dream speech delivered over fifty years ago. I so appreciate that each of you continue to work tirelessly to support the tenets of this cherished dream. It matters to so many. Thank you.


    Warmest regards,

    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • January 6, 2017

    Posted by Casey Henry at 1/6/2017

    Hello Team Northshore,


    Happy New Year!! I trust each of you enjoyed a blessed and joyful winter break with family and friends. Winter is such a great season, so full of promise…


    As I reflect on the year past and anticipate the opportunities for joy and growth in the year upcoming, I am thoughtful about all that we have done together and all that we have yet to do. There has been so much thoughtful and careful planning and preparation for the transitions upcoming later this year. We can feel confident that while there will be challenges we have not anticipated, we have the skills and drive to meet them and together have the capacity to continue the strong traditions in this amazing district.


    In a recent meeting with one of our amazing NSD teachers, we discussed innovative programming and the opportunities that await us as we teach students who will be living into the 22nd Century. We have spent such a great deal of time talking about preparing our students for the 21st Century, and now we realize that our kindergartners and those that follow will be engaging in the 22nd Century. This teacher shared an article with me from Thom Markham around project based learning that started with this quote, " Imagine a day in the distant future when a student comes home from school (or the community learning center), and the parent asks, "What did you do at school today?" and the child answers, "the teacher tried something new today. She called it a 'lecture'. It is something they used to do in school at the beginning of the century." Imagine the possibilities....


    This Friday night, the Northshore PTSA Council will be celebrating 295 students for their Reflections art work. Reflections is a National PTA program to inspire students to use their creativity by expressing themselves through their own original works in dance, film, musical composition, literature, photography and visual arts for the theme of "What is Your Story?" There are 58 students whose pieces are moving on to the State PTA for further judging and another 49 students that received a Judges Choice award for their creativity. The event will run from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. and will take place at the Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell. Such talented students, so inspiring !!


    Next week, we will be hosting a special conversation on gender diversity in our schools for parents and guardians in the Inglemoor High School attendance pathway. The event, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12, in the Inglemoor High School Little Theater, featuring nationally renowned speaker and writer Aidan Key, is geared toward parents of all students at any grade level. We plan to schedule similar presentations soon for the Bothell and Woodinville high school pathways. With transgender students attending our schools at a variety of grade levels, the district is committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable learning environment for all students. Key will lead a conversation intended to help parents better understand transgender issues and how to navigate them with children. Key’s work with K-12 schools includes topics such as gender-neutral bathrooms, transgender student athletic participation, locker rooms, privacy, disclosure, name changes and gender changes. His expertise has informed gender-inclusive policy work within the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Washington Intercollegiate Activities Association, and public school districts. Key, author of “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” has been featured in national media, including NPR, Nightline, Oprah, and Larry King Live. This promises to be an informative evening.


    Recently, a staff member provided me an interesting link to the Five Essential Questions in Life according to Harvard School of Education Dean, James Ryan. I think these remarks are especially timely as we begin a new year filled with such promise and fraught with its usual uncertainty. It is nice to know that which we can count on when we anticipate challenges and new ideas. Our greatest resource is one another and the relationships we hold dear. Together, all things are possible -- and of that we can remain resolutely certain.


    2017 will see our Northshore School District strong and getting stronger. Our future depends on the character and competence of the children we both raise and educate. It takes all of us in moments both small and large to make the difference for our future generation. I look forward to seeing you in the schools or at an afterschool activity in the coming year.


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • December 16, 2016

    Posted by Casey Henry at 12/16/2016

    Hello Team Northshore,


    What an amazing close to December classes and wow, what an amazing week !! ... and all through the district many creatures are stirring and the excitement is contagious. It is such a beautiful time of the year with such a generous spirit abounding. I recently received a holiday note that reminded me that; “This season represents tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future.” There are so many examples of our students and staff going above and beyond to support those less fortunate in our community this holiday season. This speaks so highly of the character and grace abundant in our great district; a real Northshore family feel to be sure.


    We have continued our strategic planing process during the current week. This is really a special endeavor, particularly at this time in the journey of our district. Our core planning team and our student voice teams both worked this week and provided parallel views on similar topics. It is enlightening to be part of both conversations and read the earnestness and thoughtful consideration those of all ages are giving to this essential process. By way of an update, we are closing in on five strategic goals and then looking at statements that might best define them. As we collectively move forward, the goals will be more clearly defined. I am so excited about this opportunity to chart our course for the upcoming three to five years. The ability to unify our work and better focus our energy is such a powerful and engaging opportunity. Coming up in early February, the instructional focus team will be working for two days to design the instructional strategies intended to bring the strategic goals to life in the classroom. For any of you who may still want to participate in the instructional focus group work, it is not too late to sign up. Your voice would be much appreciated as this is the group that will identify and document the teaching strategies that will be the foundation of the instructional aspect of the strategic plan. This reflective introspection is so inspiring.


    Chris Brenengen, our Director of Finance, recently prepared a report that shows the actual monthly enrollment (as full-time equivalent, FTE) that was reported at Northshore for the last four years plus this year's current monthly enrollment through December 2016. In addition, the report displays the budgeted annualized average FTE of 20,700 (royal blue line) as well as the updated projected annualized average enrollment of 20,823 (green line) based on a five-year historical average as of October. This is an essential report for us as it tracks our student enrollment to budget and annual projections. This data is important to track as it affects all aspects of our operations including facilities planning, budgeting and all staffing, etc. Looking at this report regularly enables us to monitor and adjust when necessary as the year progresses. Our actual current head count is 21,355 students.


    At the recent Board meeting this past Tuesday, our Board unanimously passed a Respectful and Inclusive Environment Proclamation intended to proclaim the Board expectations for our school and district community here in Northshore. “The board is dedicated to the mission of supporting and educating the students of our vibrant community,” said School Board President Amy Cast. “This is an affirmation of our belief that students will thrive in an environment that honors their unique strengths and backgrounds.” The Proclamation on a Respectful and Inclusive Environment reads:


    WHEREAS the Northshore School District Board of Directors believes that a safe, inclusive and civil environment is essential to high student and staff achievement and that the free exchange of ideas is central to a quality educational process; and


    WHEREAS the Northshore School District Board of Directors is committed to an equitable educational system that continues to grow in our ability to nurture and support all students through a fair and inclusive education, which should permeate all aspects and levels of the organization down to the classroom; and


    WHEREAS the Northshore School District Board of Directors is committed to providing and maintaining safe and healthy environments conducive to learning, where all of our students thrive, regardless of their background, language, race, status, gender identity, orientation, religion or other exceptionalities. The Board of Directors are steadfast in our efforts to communicate and celebrate the worth and importance that each student, educator, parent and community member bring to the work of teaching and learning in a contemporary school district.


    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of Northshore School District No. 417 proclaim our school district will continue to model, support and foster a respectful and inclusive environment for all students, educators, families and community members.


    Interestingly, our Northshore School District is becoming more and more diverse at an accelerated rate. Currently, it might surprise you to know that there are ninety-four home languages spoken in our district. This is such a source of strength for us as a district and for us as a community. I know our dedicated and talented staff are working in innovative ways to meet the needs of each of our learners and am anticipating this strength of diversity forming a cornerstone of our strategic plan that will focus and lead us into the future. This is such exciting and important work.


    Many have noted the following; “This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!” What a joyful wish to come true for each of you…


    Warm wishes for a blessed and joyful holiday season,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)
  • December 9, 2016

    Posted by Karen Orsinger at 12/9/2016

    Hello Team Northshore,


    I trust my note finds each of you well and enjoying a bustling winter season. While things have been a bit cold, OK really cold , I want to especially thank our facilities, custodial and maintenance folks for keeping us warm. Also, many thanks for the transportation folks who have been up extraordinarily early these past weeks,and traveled many miles of icy and dangerous roads to deliver students safely to and from home during this cold weather. We each have such a unique role in the education of the whole child and all the support necessary to make our vision a reality for all children in the district – no exceptions. It really does take a whole district to support and educate a whole child. Its matters to so many, the acts large and small, and together forge a stronger family here in our amazing district.


    This week we had the the opportunity to do our SIP visit to Kokanee Elementary. The staff provided an amazing and informative presentation and our classroom visits were inspiring. The SIP visits continue to provide a great opportunity for collaborative conversation regarding the amazing work going on in our schools. The visits also highlight the various partnerships supporting our work here in the Northshore School District.


    In exciting news, we want to celebrate our Natural Leaders Program that recently received the 2016 Outstanding Human Services Program award from the North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA) at its annual meeting held Dec. 6 at Shoreline City Hall. These tireless individuals spend innumerable hours supporting children and families in our district in so many ways, both large and small. In particular, they are working with our Spanish speaking families to provide support and integration into our school programs. They provide the high support for the high Northshore School District expectations for each student. It matters so much to so many.


    In innovative classroom news; for the last three years, Kokanee PE teachers Ellen Hanley and Kael Fisher have partnered with OT/PT specialists Janet Prendergast and Hannah Lott-Havey to develop and implement a special PE program for their Mid-Level Sensory students. The team has developed the program to address gross and fine motor skill learning needs in the PE setting through structured stations. Mid-Level students participate in a series of stations focusing on specific motor skills in a setting designed to meet the learning and environmental structure needs for sensory students. This program has produced wonderful outcomes for students including increasing their ability to engage in the general education setting and exiting some of them from special education services in the area of motor. The team has shared their program ideas with other elementary PE teachers throughout the district as teachers look for innovative ways to support the needs of all students through Physical Education! Having been in the gym, with these innovative teachers, para-educators and students, I am so impressed with the energy and engagement of all involved. Well done !!


    In exciting alumni news, recent Inglemoor graduates, Emma Spencer and Scott Johnson won $50,000 for their invention of a 'potholder-fire blanket'. The students are now attending college in Arizona and have created this innovative product with a winning design. In the November 23, 2016 Seattle Times article 2 Inglemoor Grads win $50,000 with Fire-Safety Invention the odyssey is described. I love our NSD Innovative energy !!


    Many thanks to NSEA President Tim Brittell for organizing the McCleary informational meeting held at the Shoreline Conference Center last evening. It was a well attended meeting and Attorney Thomas Ahearne described the vision of the McCleary case, and explained how the final stages of the McCleary timeline may play out. Mr. Ahearne took audience questions, and explained how the McCleary case has evolved and progressed since its inception through the 2017 Legislative Session. The implications of this case in this legislative session are uniquely important. Stay tuned as we articulate more specifics around Northshore funding impacts specifically.


    On Saturday, December 3, several school board members attended a six hour event at the Monroe Correctional Facility on equity and education topics. This summit, entitled "Call to Action: Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline" was organized by the Black Prisoner's Caucus at the Monroe facility. Along with over 120 other guests inside the facility's walls, the school board heard inmates speak on topics such as Education versus Assimilation, Growing Up in The System, and Parenting From Prison. This is an example of the wide variety of professional development and outreach opportunities that board members continue to participate in so that they can support the district's commitment to the education of each student, regardless of background. These conversations and many others will inform our equity and diversity work this year and for many years to come.


    A staff member recently forwarded this provocative empathy focused video to me. I think it illustrates the importance of a variety of topics we have been discussing this year. Relationships matter. This topic has come up over and over in all types of conversations this year and especially recently as this season is one that is often raw and challenging for individuals and families for a variety of reasons. "You only understand people if you feel them in yourself." -- John Steinbeck. As we contemplate our equity and strategic planning work, the capacity for us to slow down and be authentically present and in conversation with one another matters.


    It has been said that the difference between a very good school system and a uniquely exceptional school system can be found in the achievement level of its least advantaged students. I know that what I have observed over the last couple of weeks and months in each of the schools I have visited is a uniquely exceptional compassion and care for all students. I am well on my way to my goal of being in every classroom in the district by the end of the school year. I am so impressed with the work, compassion, joy, care, and spirit in each school and classroom I have visited. I remain both honored and humbled to serve you.


    I will close this week with the hope that each of you will enjoy a weekend filled with abundant joy and excitement. This is a season for friends and family, reminding us of the importance of being in relationship with one another. “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” —Elbert Hubbard. True then, still true now…


    Warmest regards,


    Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

    Comments (0)