Thursday Thoughts: School Board Recognition, Paraeducator Training, Tony Wagner Event and More

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 ;>)

School Board Recognition Month

I want to take a moment and pause to thank and recognize our amazing and dedicated Board of Directors !! Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed January as School Board Recognition Month. This marks the 25th year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995. "The Washington State School Directors’ Association, Association of Educational Service Districts and the broader education community take time in January to honor board members from Washington’s 295 school districts and nine elected educational service district boards. “Through leadership and governance, Washington’s 1,477 school directors are building the future of public education in Washington state,” said WSSDA Executive Director Tim Garchow. “Not only do they fortify one of the pillars of our democracy—public education, they also shoulder responsibility for helping all of us realize the hopes and dreams we have for Washington’s youth.” In total, Washington’s school directors govern districts serving 1.1 million students, with a combined annual budget of over $15 billion, employing about 120,000 people. This is a tremendous responsibility shouldered by our locally elected, school board members. As they navigate an array of complex educational and social issues, let us thank our school board members for their service, and for working toward a strong, equitable system of public education that supports all students." 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.

New Recipes for Lunch

Vegan Chana Masala

This year, the Food & Nutrition Services Department has been working with our Equity & Diversity Department to explore ways to meet the growth we are seeing in our district and the broader community. I had the pleasure of visiting the Maywood Elementary kitchen this week for our first offering of a new dish, vegan Chana Masala, which was tested at Lockwood earlier this year. Already, 20 students buying hot lunch at Maywood today selected this new vegan option. As we continue to introduce new recipes from scratch, I am so pleased by our team’s dedication to improving the student experience here in Northshore; it matters.  I want to say how much I enjoy my school visits and Breakfast Club events. This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Maywood Hills Elementary. The visit was great, with students and staff so positive and energizing. It also brings the number of classrooms I have visited thus far this year to 408 ;>)  I continue to be so grateful to have the opportunity to serve and support each of you. Thank you.

Fundamental Course of Study

Chief Leadership and Strategy Officer, Dr. Tracy Meloy foreshadowed our upcoming collaborative efforts.  On Monday, January 27, all of Northshore's Paraeducators, School Assistants, and School Technology Specialists will participate in the first of two day-long professional learning sessions geared toward what is known as the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS).  The FCS is the result of a new legislation recognizing that all instructional Paraeducators need and deserve professional development opportunities and training to support successful academic outcomes for our students.  Once all of the ESP members required to engage in the FCS have completed their course of study, they will have completed 28 hours of learning, documented their knowledge and skills in an FCS Learning Journal, and shared how they have integrated the concepts from the Fundamental Course of Study into their practice.  The Fundamental Course of Study is the first step toward completing Washington State's new Paraeducator Certificate.

This is definitely an example of Northshore Inspires….Providing a day of interactive, meaningful learning for over 500 individuals is no small feat!  Thanks must first go to Woodinville High School Principal Kurt Criscione and his leadership team, office staff, and teachers for their willingness to host the Fundamental Course of Study event.  Michael Shurtlieff and his Food Services team also deserve recognition for preparing delicious sustenance for all participants and instructors.  Sarah Lawrence and Lauren Tourville deserve recognition for supporting the technology needs during the FCS session.  And, of course, the classes couldn't happen without the commitment and willingness of a core group people willing to lead the seven different classes on Monday.  This group includes:  15 fabulous STSs (Megan Arrivey Hall, Beth Barrett, Joan Beck, Nicholas Celms, Tiffany Dial, Tatjana Fournier, Danna Kapacinskas, Kerry McGoff, Nancy Nygren, Shane Pearson, Lawrence Pierce, Kathy Rauzi, Kristie Serra, Amy Smith, and Maija Stein) who will provide instruction about Technology Basics; Northshore's six amazing Induction Mentors (Christy Berg, Linda Cowan, Andrea Haas, Susan Martin, Andrea Schneider, and Kirsten Vesely) who will teach classes about instructional strategies and PBIS; NSD's four phenomenal Special Education TOSAs (Meghan Crane, Ardath Miller, Natalie Pullen, and Tali Schock) who will facilitate learning about de-escalation techniques; and some of NSD's central office leaders (Amity Butler) and Principals (Kristin Bailey, Srinivas Khedam, and AmyLynn Schexnayder) who are choosing to spend their day teaching participants about the basics of instruction as well as the ways Paraeducators can support positive and equitable learning environments.  If you have the opportunity to thank any of the people named, please share your appreciation for the efforts they are making to support the learning of Northshore's wonderful Paraeducators and School Assistants; together all things are possible.

Creating Innovators in Northshore

Tony Wagner

I want to foreshadow a special community evening coming up in early February.  As many of you know, we have been working hard on Goal 4: Innovative, Creative, Critical Thinkers this year as we pivot to looking at innovative practices across the district.  Our very own Northshore Goal 4 Think Tank has been meeting twice a month since the beginning of the school year and has been looking at a variety of models and frameworks that especially foster innovative and critical problem solving.  We have also been reading a book Creating Innovators authored by Dr. Tony Wagner. On Tuesday, February 11, Dr. Tony Wagner will be here in Northshore to host a community conversation at the NPAC starting at 6:30 pm.  This will be a rare opportunity for our school community to hear directly from an international expert on the topic of nurturing innovative thinking, creative problem solving and critical thinking.  Dr. Wagner will also be joining our Board for a study session prior to the community event.  Due to the high interest and space constraints, we ask that you reserve your seat. Imagine the possibilities…

Arrowhead Visit

On Tuesday, we had our seventh Board SIP visit and traveled to Arrowhead Elementary School. These visits are so integral to the comprehensive work we do as a district. In highlighting the work of the school, Principal Kristin Bailey shared some of the practices that are important to the success of every student: “Our educational system is set up to reward competition in academics and to reward the child with the highest score, but if we value equity, inclusion, community and relationships we need to create opportunities for children to work collaboratively. At Arrowhead we want children to recognize how their unique gifts and the unique gifts of others make a stronger team. We want to graduate children who are confident contributors in their middle school and high school communities, who have strong skills and are in the habit of supporting each other. When some of our students weren't showing adequate growth in retention or application of computational fluency in math we knew we needed to inspire adventurous mathematicians by changing the way we teach. We create collaborative opportunities for students to learn and practice math skills in an engaging, challenging and meaningful way, and we encourage and celebrate their ability take risks and work together. We celebrate divergent ways of thinking and learning. Incorporating games, exploration and collaboration has resulted in accelerated student growth, confidence and joy in mathematics.” This work is part of the strategic work we have been doing as a school district these past several years and enables our students to find serious success. South Region Assistant Superintendent Heather Miller observed: " It was fantastic to be in classrooms with students learning math.  The variety of instructional practices present create confident mathematicians.  Kudos to the staff who are willing to try different techniques to engage the students in mathematical discourse as a routine practice.”  It is always so energizing to be out in the schools. Go Hawks!

Inglemoor Choir Director Inspires

In another Northshore Inspires segment, I want to share that we have a newly published author in our midst.  Inglemoor Choir Director, Ailisa Newhall shared a poignant story from her middle school experience in Northshore, and how music supports young people in tough times and is such a unifying attribute shaping our community fabric. Ailisa shared; “I wrote an article for the Washington Chapter of the American Choral Director's Association after a dear choir student passed away several years ago.”  Following this, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) reached out and asked to publish her article in their national publication, ChorTeach, that just came out. The publication editors noted; “We're always proud when a NW author is included in the National American Choral Directors Association publications. The Winter edition of ChorTeach includes an inspirational article written by Ailisa Newhall, who teaches at Inglemoor High School.”  Well done and an amazing example of the transformative power of the arts!

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

I want to remind you that as we continue to make progress in our work to address mental health challenges, I want to share news about an upcoming community event that is focused on mental health and suicide prevention.  Currently, in our region, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 - 24. During this community event, our goal is to help remove the stigma around mental health and discuss tools for seeking help and coping with an increasingly stressful world. The event is scheduled for January 30 at the Northshore Performing Arts Center from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. and will feature: Interactive Discussions, Student Voices, and a Film Preview.  Special attendees will be Gabriella Wright, Never Alone Co-founder, Speaker, Philanthropist, and Actor; as well as Poonacha Machaian, Never Alone Co-founder and CEO, and advisor to Deepak Chopra.  Seating for this community event will be limited, so we are asking that you reserve your seat prior to attending.  Special thanks for this evening goes to Ganesh Banavar, a parent whose passion for this topic was kindled by the recent loss of his son to suicide.  This is such a painful topic and one that as a community we must be able to talk about and share our hopes, concerns, ideas, etc. as well as draw strength from one another as we craft thoughtful supports for each of our students, staff and families; it matters. I look forward to seeing you there as we come together as a community in support of our students, families and staff.

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.



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