Thursday Thoughts: Secondary Academy for Success Visit, Arab-American Heritage Month, Autism Acceptance Month, and More

What a great spring week!! It finally feels like spring with the energy and enthusiasm that being outdoors brings. I know that as I met with Sorenson parents this week out on the playground, the weather and spirits were joyful. Our families are so complimentary of all the hard work, passion and dedication that each of our staff members provide to support their children. Know what each of you do matters so much to so many!!

Secondary Academy for Success Visit

Earlier this week, I visited with parents, students, and staff at Secondary Academy for Success and was energized and excited by the learning taking place. Teacher Barbara Wilson shared about the community service our teens have done this school year for two non-profit groups - Homeward Pets in Woodinville and the Safe Parking Program for homeless mothers and their families in Kirkland. The students have crafted cat blankets for homeless and sheltered cats.  This year, they also donated the scarves and hats they crafted to the Safe Parking Program through the Lake Washington Methodist Church in Kirkland, which allows mothers and their families to sleep in their cars on site at night. They shared a thoughtful note that reminds me of the positive impact our students have on our community.  I am both proud and inspired.  Well done to Principal Donna Tyo, teacher Barbara Wilson, and the students and parents involved! 

Arab-American Heritage Month

As we wrap up April and head into May, I want to make sure to invite all staff to join us in taking the time to learn more about our community. April is Arab-American Heritage Month. The initiative for official national designation of Arab-American Heritage Month was launched in 2017 by the nonprofit education organization, Arab American Foundation and its sister organization, Arab America. Arab-American Heritage Month was born out of grassroots efforts by Arab activists to gain acknowledgement for their communities at the local level. But in recent years, there has been a more concerted push by Arab-American advocacy groups to get federal recognition for the month in April. In 2019, U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib introduced a resolution to Congress to proclaim April as National Arab-American Heritage Month. In 2021, the State Department recognized April as Arab-American Heritage Month. 

Autism Acceptance Month

April used to be known as Autism Awareness Month. But in 2021, the designation changed to Autism Acceptance Month. The purpose of the name change was to build belonging and inclusivity. In addition, the idea is not only to recognize people with autism, but to also cultivate spaces of belonging that include them from the beginning. It calls for more tangible progress toward equal rights and resources. I encourage you to learn more about autism here. Maywood Hills Elementary teacher Kristy Koropp also provided additional resources, including “30 Facts to Know About Autism.” Thank you, Kristy! 

Into Reading Literacy Program

I am excited to share that at Monday's School Board meeting, new materials for K-5 ELA were approved. Into Reading is a comprehensive, core literacy program that provides explicit, daily instruction in reading and writing. An online component and many resources are designed to support whole group and small group settings, differentiation, foundational skills, and the varied needs of learners. I want to thank all those who have been part of the work to support the literacy of our young learners, it matters. 

Interim Superintendent Search

Also, the School Board held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 27, to interview three qualified executive search firms to lead the search for an interim superintendent. The Board expects to hire an interim superintendent for one year, with a start date on July 1.  After conducting interviews with each firm and reviewing their proposals, the Board voted to contract with GR Recruiting. The firm is prepared to begin the search process in the coming days. More information about the interim superintendent search process, including the timeline and community engagement, is forthcoming and can be found on our website.  Information about the permanent superintendent search process will be shared in the coming months. I want to thank everyone who has shared kind words and memories since my announcement. I will have more to say at a later date. 

Arrowhead Elementary Visit

Last Friday, I visited Arrowhead Elementary and was impressed by the students in teacher Tim Wolfe’s 4th grade class, who have been studying the totem pole in front of their school. Students Hailey Hough, Audrey Sato, and James Bourn wrote this description, “Our research revealed that the carver of the totem pole, Sam Williams, was from the Ditidaht tribe (learn about the Williams Family). We contacted Sam’s grandson, Eagleson Williams. Eagleson, an 8th generation Ditidaht Carver, is going to collaborate with us to design and carve a new totem pole for Arrowhead. The existing Ditidaht totem pole, purchased from Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in 1966 and inaccurately identified as Haida, will be returned to the Williams family. We are currently working with Eagleson to design the new totem pole with symbols telling a new story about our school. Arrowhead students will be holding a move-a-thon to help raise money for the new pole.” Way to go, Hawks! 

Sorenson Early Childhood Center Visit

Yesterday I headed over to Sorenson Early Childhood Center, where on Wednesdays they host a playdate for families. Since there is no school at Sorenson on early release Wednesdays, this is an opportunity for families who are interested. I was so inspired by the learning that happens through play during my visit and thankful for the work done by Director Doreen Milburn and the Sorenson staff – thank you for all you do for our early learners! 

Innovations Lab High School Earth Day Summit

Thank you and congratulations to Innovation Lab High School sophomore Victoria Tchervenski for planning and leading the first annual ILHS Earth Day Summit. The goal of the summit was to inspire students and give them the opportunity to learn about the world around them, how it works, and what makes it change.  Principal Peter Schurke tells me that climate action is a passion of Victoria’s and this event serves as her project for Better World Day, coming up on Friday, May 6. The day-long summit included speakers from businesses, students, and staff. Topics and activities included: sustainable fisheries, bees’ role as primary pollinators, water footprint, the health of the stratosphere, Nature walk on the adjacent North Creek Trail, plastic pollution, plant and climate interactions, the “2 degree limit,” our power grid, trash pick-up, and making art with recyclables. Excellent work, Victoria! 

2022-23 Start and Dismissal Times

Adjustments have been announced to the start and dismissal times for 14 schools for the 2022-23 school year. To the impacted schools, the changes will be a 5- or 10-minute shift to allow all schools to align with the Northshore School Board resolution that no school begins before 8:00 a.m. or ends after 4:00 p.m. These changes are a final step to accomplish that goal. These efforts have been years in the making, and I want to take a moment to thank all of the dedicated parents, staff, and community members who participated in our district’s Start Times Task Force, whose work began back in 2015 when we began this work in earnest. While we were slightly delayed by COVID-19 with these final adjustments, I am excited to see us all come together to achieve this important work. 

Eid al-Fitr

As Ramadan comes to a close, I would like to acknowledge our Muslim students, families, and staff who will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr in the coming days. Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, is an observance in which Muslims will engage in family and community festivities to mark the end of the fast of Ramadan. Eid Mubarak to all who will soon celebrate!

Earth Day 

In keeping with our celebration of Earth Day this past week, I want to share one of my favorite, albeit sobering quotes from our Native American friends; “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

I trust you will each find the opportunity to enjoy a fabulous spring weekend outdoors.

Warmest regards,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.



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