Thursday Thoughts: ParentVUE Access, Start Times Technical Workgroup, Bullying Prevention and More

Well, it has certainly been an eventful week to start this October month off...we continue to have exciting classroom projects, extra-curricular events, curriculum nights and open houses all across the district. I repeatedly hear from parents and community members about the amazing work and presentations provided. I want you to know how much each of these interactions, both large and small, are appreciated by our students and families. This positive energy and dedication is what transforms our schools and community.

“When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” — Mattie Stepanek

October is National Principals Month and so I would like to personally recognize our fantastic Northshore principals. I want to share how important our principals and assistant principals are to the achievement of our core work in the schools. I applaud their instructional leadership and would invite you to share your own personal thanks sometime during the month with your school principals.  Our collective work in this amazing field of education is so transformative; I firmly believe it is only through the power of public education that our communities and country will remain strong. Each of us plays a role and together, all things are possible...

I want to share this very promising tech event update. Our Technology Department and other staff across the District continue to work with cybersecurity experts to assess the impact and develop solutions.  This past weekend, our staff from the Technology Department worked to clean the majority of affected computers out in the schools. They also began replacing hard drives where necessary. That work will continue. I want to thank the team for the energy and dedication they’ve put behind this effort. In three days, they assessed and/or cleaned upwards of 1600 computers! We are fortunate to have such amazing team members. More great news! Synergy is partially up and it is now being hosted in the Cloud. If all goes well, we expect families to have full access to ParentVue and StudentVue by the end of next week. Please know that when families and students do finally have access, the first thing they will need to do is to change their password. As we foreshadow the work moving forward, district staff should also be prepared to change their passwords in the coming days.  Another priority that the Technology Department is working on is the Food Service Point of Sale system that allows the department to track meal balances and purchases. Although that system is not yet up, meals served since 9/20/19 are being tracked via paper. Account balances on PayPams are as of 9/20/19. When the system comes up, it will take a bit of time to update student accounts. Thank you for your patience.

This is a great time to remind each other and our students about staying safe online. Our website has great information and links regarding digital citizenship and maintaining your privacy online.

As we continue to be challenged with our ability to implement healthy start times for all, we remain committed to working on ways to improve these times for all students. As this is a project that has been active for over ten years in our district, we have looked at many different scenarios and options over these many years. Currently, I am working with a technical workgroup, comprised of community members and staff along with a traffic engineering consultant to aggressively craft scenarios and test them over the course of the current school year. I will be making a mid-year report to the Board in January on any possible adjustments we can make (that would not be disruptive) for the remainder of the current school year. By the end of the current school year, I have been directed to provide the board a start time plan for the 2020-2021 school year that is healthy for all of our students based on the best research available to us.

This start time work will be assisted by the opening of the new elementary school in the fall of 2020 and the building capacity opening on the Skyview/Canyon Creek campus. Once we are able to open these schools, and thus have space to move our elementary music programs into the school day, as well as more regionally distribute students in special programs, our transportation routing and student time on our buses will likely be positively mitigated.

We are planning a current and updated ‘start time’ landing page on our website that will keep you updated as well as I will be making monthly reports to the Board on our progress. An example of work being done in other parts of the country is a partnership with MIT and the Boston Public Schools  that I find intriguing. As we think about what the noted study examined, we continue to look for ways in which to transfer the project metrics and gain a positive outcome for our district. More to come…

This past week, we had our first Board SIP visit and traveled to Inglemoor High School. These visits are so integral to the comprehensive work we do as a district. In highlighting the work of the school, Principal Adam Desautels highlighted several aspects of the school work this year; "We as a staff have shifted our lens to look at impact of systems on individual students. We are building relationships to gain context and empathy, then responding with intention in tailoring our curriculum and assessment methods to meet the needs of our students. This will help us build and maintain a culture where IHS is a place where students feel safe, comfortable, and supported in meeting their educational goals." Further, South Region Assistant Superintendent, Heather Miller observed; “Engaging in culturally responsive work (both inside and outside of the classroom) is complex and challenging work.  I appreciate the emphasis on empathy and relationships by staff and students.”  We all noticed the strong feeling of pride as students greeted us as special guests and we certainly enjoyed sharing their classroom experience with them. It is always so energizing to be out in the schools. Go Vikings!!

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It is reported that when bystanders intervene, bullying stops in 10 seconds 57% of the time. Because educators are unable to witness each incident, it is important that students are taught how to speak up and advocate for their classmates. Throughout the month, Northshore schools are encouraged to participate in activities designed to support and raise awareness about bullying prevention. Some of these include: challenge others to be kind, celebrate differences and similarities, and have conversations about how school can be judgement and bully-free. While the month of October is focused on raising awareness of the cause, this is important work to practice year round.

Below is a list of themes for each week in October, focused on bullying prevention:

  • Week of October 7th “World Day of Bullying Prevention is 10/7”
  • Week of October 14th STAND UP for Others Week
  • Week of October 21st Week of Inclusion
  • Week of October 28th Start the Week with Conversations Amongst Your Peers

In addition to attending so many exciting evening events, I am continuing my school visits this year and had a great visit last week at Sunrise Elementary School. It has been great to get back to my school and classroom visits this year. I continue to be so impressed with students and staff sharing their genuine warmth, joy, and inclusive approach to exploring our world together; it matters. Prior to the school day, I met with parents who were very positive about their school experience and expressed such appreciation for our teachers, support staff, transportation department and all those who are positively supporting them and their children.  Following the meeting with parents, after school started, I had the pleasure of meeting with students for our Breakfast Club meeting. My heart beats strongest when I am with our students in the schools. The students were so eager to share with me how much they appreciate their teachers and support staff. They are excited about their math this year, concerned about the environment and had innovative ideas to save energy, as well as being excited about the new friends they are each making. Their positive energy is so contagious.

In reflecting on recent events, I am reminded of something William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) shared; "Three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others.”  As I think about our amazing and abundant fall season, I am looking forward to getting outside this weekend and hope that you too find time to crunch leaves, tour trails, or whatever brings you joy during this time of the year. Imagine the possibilities...

Warmest regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.



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