Thursday Thoughts: Inspiring Inglemoor Athlete, White Cane Safety Day, Mental Health Awareness and More

What a great week!!  I love this fall season and all the abundant joy it brings. 

And so, like you I have often looked up this past week as the geese are doing fly-overs in formation.  Over the years, I am pleased to be reminded that to all things there is a season.  There is a definite comfort to nature and the predictability as well as the gifts of so many creatures, great and small. The story of the geese and their tight formation  is one that still inspires me in my work.  I trust that you too will find inspiration in their natural team commitment. Together, all things are possible.

As I get out and about to different student events, I was thrilled to attend the Inglemoor Cross Country meet this week.  While there, I found a Northshore Inspires story I would like to share with you.  Head IHS Cross Country Coach Rich Bennett continues to be so inspired on a daily basis by what our young athletes with special needs accomplish. The WIAA recently added the ambulatory division to the State Cross Country Championships (Nov 2, Pasco WA). According to Coach Bennett, “Our freshman runner, Verada Ellet (vision impaired) is currently training very hard to be the first Inglemoor athlete to qualify for this event. The girl's qualifying standard is 35 min. and her current personal best is 36:21. She recently lowered her time by 3 minutes at a meet last Saturday at the Twilight Invitational. She can distinguish light and dark and make out distinct contrasts but not much else. She races with the help of our assistant coaches Kara Whitmire and her mom, Mandy Ellet. Connected by a short cord they offer her guidance through more difficult sections of the various courses we race on.” According to Coach Bennett; “She has 3 more meets at which she will try to qualify but as you saw yesterday cross country courses can offer varying degrees of difficulty for someone like Verada. She continues to train hard and we remain hopeful that she will be successful.”  I was so inspired to be a part of the crowd at the meet cheering Verada and all of our student athletes on as they competed.  Imagine the possibilities…

In other fabulous Northshore Kindness news, I received a poignant note from one of our very own Northshore kindergarten parents (who gave me permission to share her story). Jennifer, the mother of a kindergartner at Hollywood Hill Elementary shared the story of her daughter Rowan who she describes as a sensitive child. According to Jennifer, “The transition to full-time kindergarten has been a little challenging for her and many days are difficult. Each day we pack her favorite lovey (a stuffed puppy) in her backpack so she has a friend with her at school. Well, today we forgot the puppy and she was in tears as her bus approached. She didn’t want to get on the bus. Our stop is a half mile from our house so I couldn’t just run into the house to get her puppy. Her bus driver Teri was amazing. Teri was patient, gave Rowan a hug and spent extra time encouraging her to get on the bus. Teri even suggested that Rowan sit with an older child who is always nice to her.  It was so touching that I was in tears as the bus pulled away. When I turned around I noticed the other moms had small tears in their eyes too. We all feel so lucky to have Teri as our bus driver. I’m so hopeful one of you could pass along my profound gratefulness for her kindness. She truly has made such a positive impact in my daughter’s life. Rowan looks forward to riding the bus every day. Teri definitely goes above and beyond. We love you Teri!”  I love our Northshore spirit ;>) !!  Imagine the possibilities…

In a great reminder from Woodmoor Elementary School, Educational Support Professional Rosemary Bosse recently reminded us that October 15 is National White Cane Safety Day. As many of you know, the white cane is a tool for independence used by blind and visually impaired people to travel safely. In learning more about this special day, Rosemary shared; “How did people start using a cane for travel? One story is from the 1930’s. A blind person was seen walking with a black cane near a busy intersection. A member from a Lion’s Club thought that the cane would be more visible if it was white and so they worked to make that happen. Then in the 1960’s, the President of the United States signed a declaration proclaiming October 15th to officially be honored every year as National White Cane Safety Day. Today, hundreds of thousands of people around the world with a visual impairment use a white cane. It takes lots of skill to learn and it allows a person with a visual impairment to walk with confidence.”  Principal Ebony Harvey reminds us that “This is why we support and acknowledge National White Cane Safety Day as an important date.  Thank you!”  This is particularly important to Rosemary, as she works with a Woodmoor student who is blind and uses a white cane every day. As we think about inclusion, I thank our team at Woodmoor for reminding us to acknowledge the work and contributions of all of our students and staff as a district.  Imagine the possibilities…

As our schools continue to adapt to the new state regulations on student discipline, many of you have asked questions about the types of actions which count or do not count as a “classroom exclusion.” Specifically, there appears to be some confusion regarding exclusions from a classroom or instructional area for behavioral violations that result in missed instruction for a brief duration. To help educators with this question, District administrators, Northshore Education Association leaders and legal counsel have collaborated on a position paper that outlines an explanation that we, here in our house, will abide by.  Please check in with any of the aforementioned partners if you have further questions, concerns, wonders, ideas or other input.  Together, all things are possible…

Every year, more than 43 million Americans deal with mental illness, but only 41% seek assistance. I want to share that Mental Health Awareness Week is this week. Here’s how you can surmount the stigma and find help. Here in our house, we must do all we can do destigmatize mental health and encourage all who might benefit from extra mental health support or treatment to seek help.  This is a topic that will continue to get the full measure of our attention well beyond this week.  Stay tuned…

For those of you who might not have seen our recent news release, I wanted to share our exciting story, another Northshore Inspires story ;>)  Kokanee Elementary teacher, Stacy Hansen was selected to receive the Premera Teachers Tribute Award from Premera Blue Cross and Seattle Sounders FC. Hansen was nominated for her dedication to students by Deana Harris, a former parent. In her nomination letter, Harris told the story of her student Ayden’s life changing experience with Mrs. Hansen. “(Ayden) walked into her first-grade class half the size of his classmates. She welcomed him with a smile and treated him just like any other student. To Stacy Hansen, Ayden wasn’t a student with dwarfism, he was just Ayden the first grader.” Harris continued to share how Mrs. Hansen dedicated her time to tutor and advise Ayden. Mrs. Hansen also spent her time volunteering for Little People of America. “Stacy committed herself to the academic, social and emotional well-being of Ayden… This success didn’t just happen. It was developed through years of commitment from a teacher who cared beyond measure.” Harris and Ayden surprised Mrs. Hansen with the award alongside Hansen's family, Sounders' Steve Zakuani and representatives from Premera Blue Cross and Seattle Sounders FC.  Wow, what another fabulous example of our Northshore spirit !!

Given that the snow is beginning to fall in the mountains ;>) 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.

As we head into this fall weekend, please enjoy the colors of the changing season and the warmth of friends and family.  And so, "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." --- Robert Brault...   And now off to the Inglemoor Homecoming football game….  Brrr…

Warmest regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

 

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