Thursday Thoughts: Mental Health Event, Reflections, Innovation Lab High School, Census 2020 and More

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...

Mental Health Event

To that end, while I am sorry my thoughts are so late this evening, we hosted the community mental health meeting tonight at the NPAC.  We were joined by Poonacha Machaian and Gabriella Wright as the co-founders of Neveralone, and others as we discussed the importance of removing the stigma of mental health and seeking help when necessary as we cope with an increasingly stressful world.  It continues to be a valuable reminder that relationships matter…  We need to remember to be gentle with ourselves first and then with one another.  More to come on this important topic as we lean into authentic conversation about mental health supports for our students, staff and community; together, all things are possible. 


As a Northshore Inspires event, Reflections is a nationwide arts recognition and achievement program hosted by National PTA. This year, 27 Northshore PTAs submitted 357 pieces of student artwork to Northshore Council PTSA on the theme "Look Within" in dance choreography, film  production, literature, music composition, photography, and 2D and 3D visual arts. We celebrated the work of these student artists at the Northshore Council Reflections Celebration on January 11th at Leota Middle School, where families and community members were able to see the pieces on display. Special recognition was given to 54 Judges Choice award recipients as well as to the 67 State Qualifiers that will continue onto Washington State PTA for further judging (find the full list of awards on the Northshore Council PTSA website). Reflections is so much more than "just an art contest." It helps kids take risks, be inspired, think creatively and receive positive recognition and be celebrated for their works of art. It also gives our community an opportunity to take inspiration from and celebrate creativity in our students. Thank you to all of the amazing Northshore student artists who have shared their creativity with us through Reflections!

Creating Innovators in Northshore

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, a lead with the Harvard Innovation Lab.  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 likely space constraints, we ask you to reserve your seat. Imagine the possibilities…

Innovation Lab High School

Innovation Lab High School Planning Principal Peter Schurke is launching information sessions. There will be two sets of sessions. The first will be for staff and the second for families of students in grades 8 and 9. Be sure to look for the announcement in your email as the sessions begin on Monday, February 2.  

As you may know, there is a census count every 10 years. The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. This year, the census count will take place on April 1. Some staff across the District already incorporate information about the census in the curriculum. This is an excellent opportunity to provide your students with knowledge about the census that they can share at home. In the coming days and weeks, each building will receive information on ways they can engage their students in census education and share with families. In addition, our Communications Department will send direct messages to families. I encourage you to review the census 2020 website that has all the information about the census and also tools for educators. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.  Participation in the census count by every family is vital to our district. 


Another Northshore Inspires event was recently shared with me by Li Haining, Inglemoor High School Science Olympiad Supervisor.  Li shared; “Our Science Olympiad Club hosted a successful Science Day for elementary students as an educational and fundraising event.  Twenty-seven children came to experience science fun from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.  They competed in: Building games, Egg Drop, and Rockets, made Terrariums,  Oobleck and Slime, and did a Density Lab.  At the end, they made comments such as: "Chemistry and physics are awesome!"  "I learned that science is fun!"  "I want to come back for another day like this."  I am very proud of our Science Olympiad Club students.”  So are we !! Imagine the possibilities…


As a Northshore Inspires segment, I want to recognize the collaborative spirit between NSEA and the district in our recent professional learning event.  Special shout out to Robbi Reed, Tim Brittell, Paul Dillon and Tracy Meloy, as well as many others, for their collaboration and coordination of this complex event. On Monday, January 27, all of Northshore's Paraeducators, School Assistants, and School Technology Specialists participated 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.


Providing a day of interactive, meaningful learning for over 500 individuals was 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 have been run without the commitment and willingness of a core group people willing to lead the seven different classes on Monday.  This group included:  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 provided instruction about Technology Basics; Northshore's six amazing Induction Mentors (Christy Berg, Linda Cowan, Andrea Haas, Susan Martin, Andrea Schneider, and Kirsten Vesely) who taught classes about instructional strategies and PBIS; NSD's four phenomenal Special Education TOSAs (Meghan Crane, Ardath Miller, Natalie Pullen, and Tali Schock) who facilitated 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 spent 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 made to support the learning of Northshore's wonderful Paraeducators and School Assistants. Thank you one and all for all you do each day to strengthen our community through excellence in education; it matters.

Electric School Bus Grant

In exciting news from Dr. Joe Paperman, our Chief Operations Officer, and an example of Northshore Innovates, we just got some good news from the Department of Ecology on the electric school bus grant we recently applied for. The grant allowed districts to apply for up to 3 electric buses and would cover the difference in cost between an electric bus and a regular diesel bus (about $400,000 per bus for electric versus $160,000 for diesel). We applied for the full 3 buses and just heard back that we were approved for 3 buses. We are in the process of getting quotes from our bus supplier to finalize the last step of the grant application.  The grant will also include up to an additional $50,000 per bus to build out the infrastructure required for charging.  According to Joe; “Unfortunately the terms of the grant have the same requirement to destroy an existing old diesel bus when the new electric bus is put into service so this won't help with the fleet increase we'll need to make for next year. On the plus side it's a huge "green" benefit as well as decreasing fuel and maintenance costs.”  This is another step in our progress to limit our carbon footprint. 


As I am contemplating the coming days, I came across this quote and am once again 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.



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