I trust you are each enjoying this beautiful August weather. I know we have many challenges in front of us and yet know how important it is to stay present in the myriad summer activities that define the rhythm of renewal and reflection so necessary as we gear up for a return to school in the coming weeks. “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson
Planning for 2020-21
I so appreciate the many notes and your willingness to share your thoughts and concerns about our coming year. I also appreciate all the work that so many of you have undertaken as we prepare for what is no doubt slated to be an epic school year. I know that the documents we provided several weeks ago describing our plans were very lengthy, complex, and also foreshadowed plans that require details that are still being worked out; indeed, many of these details will benefit from continued collaboration as the pandemic remains a dynamic situation which is constantly shifting. I know that there will be more detailed information coming out today describing aspects of our continuing journey together. I want to assure you that we will continue to collaboratively process concerns, ideas and questions as they most assuredly will arise. During these uncertain times, what is certain is that, here, in Our House, relationships matter, and we will continue to resolutely extend one another grace as we work together to solve challenges to which there is no clear answer; yet, often require action. Remember that innovation requires iteration and this cycle is one that will predictably roll forward throughout our year together. Please continue to hold me accountable for a thoughtful process on these and other topics as we maintain our focus on what’s most important – our collective health and safety; together, all things are possible…
In other district news, over the past four days, District leadership participated in August Advance. This annual series of professional development and community-building are important to framing the way we will work with each other, our staff and families throughout the year. I am grateful for the thoughtful and courageous conversations around racial justice led by the Pacific Education Group. We will continue this critical work with all staff members throughout the year. Our last two days of training were led by Moe Carrick, author of Bravespace Workplace. Her work supported each of us in identifying what each of us as leaders must do to ensure our individual and collective leadership practices support each and every student, their families, and one another.
Our preparations continue as we move into the final weeks of summer. I am excited about the Summer Institute next week where new and experienced staff will take classes that will continue to prepare them for online instruction and support our students and families, so that we have a strong start to the fall and a successful year – whether we are engaged in distance learning or safely back in schools. To highlight just a few of the scheduled classes, staff will learn about the new learning management system, social emotional learning, engaging young learners, and best practices for engaging students and empowering learners in mathematics. I want to note that this is the first institute we have run that is 100% virtual. This is exciting as the content is intended to support all educators in their preparation for the school year ahead. All sessions will be recorded and archived so that people who are unable to attend will be able to do so asynchronously, thus making these professional development opportunities accessible to all educators at times that meet their needs. Many thanks to all of the staff who are making this possible and to those attending; it matters.
As the summer continues to quickly roll by, there are a number of construction projects in various stages of progress. One is the fire sprinkler upgrade at Kokanee Elementary, which is nearing completion. This summer’s work is phase II of the project, which began last summer with the replacement of the school’s HVAC system, upgrades to the roof and some upgrades to the fire sprinkler system. Phase II is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Overall, the project will save energy totaling nearly $73,000 in utility costs per year to the District. This savings equals a carbon reduction of 135 acres of trees planted or 1,085,681 lbs. of carbon removed from the environment per year. These much-needed building improvements are made possible by the generous support of Northshore voters who approved the 2018 bond. Follow the progress of these projects and many others by visiting our website.
As we lean in to a new and unexpected way to begin our school year together, you will notice me speaking more and more about the idea of community. Now, more than ever, this is a time for us to come together as a community to make things work, to let others know they are seen, heard and valued, and to support both our students and our families as we successfully navigate our year together. If we can strengthen and build community in Northshore, I am confident we will get through this together. I want to highlight two community builders today who are certainly inspiring me. Liam Miller is a 5th grader from East Ridge Elementary. Last summer, he had open heart surgery to repair a birth defect. While he was at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, he received toys to encourage him during his recovery. Fast forward to this summer and Liam is not only thriving, but he has collected hundreds of toys for other children at Mary Bridge so they can also be encouraged. Taking care of one another in a time of need. That is community. I am so proud of Liam. KING5 and the Woodinville Weekly highlighted Liam for his kind heart.
I also want to talk about our own Ileana Koons who is one of our nutrition team members at Skyview Middle School. In the midst of this pandemic, Ileana came across an elderly couple in a dire situation. Like thousands around the world, this couple became stranded in the U.S. because of the pandemic. They spoke next to no English and had no home, food or money. In no time, in another community builders moment, Ileana jumped into action, and helped form a community around the couple. KING5 shared this couple’s story and Ileana’s contributions. I can’t imagine what this couple must have been going through, but I can imagine the possibilities when it comes to our Northshore community. Well done Ileana!
Finally, in our most recent community builders milestone, the 10,000th book has been delivered to students this week. Students can also pick up a free book from the Northshore Schools Foundation. With libraries closed, access to books is very limited for some children. A group of generous volunteers, District family liaisons and the Northshore Schools Foundation have come together with community support to provide books to students free of cost. If your student is in need of new books, please fill out this form. So much to do this summer!
As we close out this amazing August week, I am reminded that; “It always seems impossible until its done.” – Nelson Mandela. Let’s continue together to imagine the possibilities as we plan forward…
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.