I trust this note finds each of you enjoying a safe and healthy August week. I actually found myself enjoying the stormy day today as I remember that we are in the northwest and days such as today are so often ripe with opportunity and energy…
Northshore Learns 3.0
Earlier this week, I shared information about Northshore Learns 3.0 – a distance learning instruction model that will offer more rigorous instruction, services and community-building than we experienced in the spring. I so appreciate all of you across the district who are busy planning for the beginning of the school year and making sure every student has what they need to be successful during online learning. Imagine the possibilities…
If you have not had an opportunity to catch up on COVID-19 news, I want to provide an update. In meeting with the health officers for Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties, they have shared that the current community transmission rates are significantly higher than they were in March and they have stated they do not feel with rates this high that it is safe to open schools in person in the fall. This is the reason that school districts in this region have made the decision to begin the year online. Indeed, no other country has opened schools with as high a community transmission rate as we currently have. Yesterday, the Governor made an announcement with new guidance and decision-making parameters for schools to follow. Both King and Snohomish are among 25 counties where there is high COVID activity.
I will continue to pay close attention to the guidance of our federal, state and local health officials as well as the health situation in our own district. In the meantime, I encourage you to review the stages we plan to move through when we can safely begin returning students and staff to school buildings.
During the release of Northshore Learns 3.0 details, our website briefly had language that indicated there would be a specific amount of time devoted to social emotional learning, and racial and social justice. These are topics that are so integral to the education of all of our students, particularly at this time. The 40-minute language was part of our planning conversations but has since been removed as it felt arbitrary and didn’t capture our desire to integrate this important work into the regular teaching and learning routines of our students and staff. As we move through these complex planning processes, I so appreciate the grace we extend one another and our collective understanding of not allowing perfection to be the enemy of progress in our work; together, all things are possible.
There are many facets to the work we do in these arenas, including making sure that our curriculum is representative of all of our students, their families and our community. In speaking 94 home languages within Northshore, we are a very diverse community and we want to make sure that our literature (authors, characters), art (artists), music (composers), etc. are reflective of the many rich cultures represented within our district. We also want to make sure that we are having conversations about our collective history, not simply from a singular perspective, as we nurture the next generation who will hold the future of our great country in their hands.
We are also increasing and improving our social emotional learning. As we begin the school year online, we want to make sure our students are engaged and connected so they don’t feel the social isolation that they shared they felt in the spring. We understand the significance of community and in Our House, we continue to value the relationships we both build and nurture.
In other news and milestone commemorations, I am reminded that today marks the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. Nearly 300,000 people were killed. It is a day that marked the beginning of the nuclear age and, depending on the individual and their location in the world, will be remembered through different lenses. Such is the case with the six individuals who were profiled shortly after the bombing by The New Yorker reporter John Hersey. He traveled to Japan and reported on the aftermath by profiling six survivors. This week, The New Yorker shared Hersey’s writings as this day must never be forgotten. I invite you to take a moment and quietly remember all those impacted by this event so long ago.
Finally, I want to leave you with an inspirational story of one of our students who is serving her community on the other side of the world, as the pandemic has forced her to stay safe at home. Arya Karki will be a sophomore at Bothell High School in the fall. Both of her parents are from Nepal. Over the past several months, Arya and her friend, Simran, who attends school in a neighboring district, created a website. They wanted to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Nepal, a country that draws tourists from around the globe, but has a fragile healthcare system. Arya and Simran said they “should not just be bystanders watching their country agonize, and instead should be part of the solution.” As I talk about our Northshore students, I no longer refer to them as leaders of tomorrow. Over and over, during a pandemic, the fight for racial and social justice, and even adapting to another way of learning, I see these young leaders as leaders of today and I know that we are in good hands.
Arya’s story is an inspiring reminder of just how deep and wide our community’s roots run. We all have a story and each story has a unique rhythm and message as no two are the same. My hope is that we all make the time to slow down and listen to the stories of those around us. Being present with one another is a gift whose value is priceless. During this summer season of reflection and renewal, let’s continue to together imagine the possibilities…
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.