Thursday Thoughts: Standard Stage 2, Community Building, Paz Poetry Prize and More

Well, here we are in our last week of summer…. I trust you are staying safe and healthy as the wildfire smoke continues to linger in our region. I’m sure we are all looking forward to the day when we can at least open our windows and breathe a little easier ;>)  I want to acknowledge that this journey we are on together is one that continues to be a very full and sometimes unpredictable experience. What is predictable is the strength of our community; together all things are possible. 

Standard Stage 2

With that said, there is some promising news with our learning status. This evening, I am pleased to announce that we are moving to a standard Stage 2. This means that teachers and other staff will be able to access school buildings during the week without asking for permission.  This is due to the improving community transmission rate in King and Snohomish Counties.  Please also remember that should this data become problematic, we may rethink the move and announce alternative plans.  Access will continue to be monitored, and staff will need to continue to check in when arriving to a school site and be sure to follow all of the appropriate health protocols.

While I am providing this direction tonight, the change in stages will take effect on Monday, September 21.  This gives us time to make sure we have appropriate staffing and supplies available to support the stage adjustment in a safe and healthy manner.  As we make future decisions to move from stage to stage, there will be more lead time to accomplish the necessary preparation.  Moving from a modified Stage 2 to a standard Stage 2 is a simpler process as compared to the process required to potentially move from Stages 3-6. Tomorrow, I will be providing more information on how future stage movement decisions will be made as well as how we will proceed to make sure our community is prepared to move together in a safe and healthy manner. 

I so appreciate each of you and your patience and grace during these challenging times; it matters.  I know that in Our House, we will continue to support one another and provide a safe and healthy way in which to meet our mission.  I do want to remind everyone that the concept of “together” is critical. We all want to be safely back in schools in our buildings. To do that, we must all be practicing health and safety protocols as put forth by our health departments.  This includes wearing a mask as directed, practicing safe distancing and limiting large gatherings. Many of you have likely heard of the wedding in Maine that resulted in the deaths of at least seven people – some who were not in attendance at this super spreader event. We want to be leaders in this pandemic who, as one community, are ready to do what it takes to get our students safely back in the classroom; together all things are possible. 

Community Building

Until we are physically back in the classroom, I know you are each finding ways to create normalcy and special moments. You are going above and beyond and I continue to be so inspired by each of you and your passion during these times. In late breaking positive Community Building news, Leota Middle School Principal Audee Gregor, shared how well the first ever virtual Curriculum Night went.  Too often we only hear the concerns and frustrations and I think it is important to share how grateful, inspired, and excited, many of our families are during these curious times.  In the feedback shared, you can see the characteristics of a strong community, thank you one and all:

  • "Leota's curriculum night just ended and although it was a different format this year, I left feeling just as invigorated as I did when I left last year's curriculum night.  It was so wonderful to "meet" each of you tonight.  I am thankful that our student will be learning and growing with each of you this year.  I know this year presents new challenges to education.  Each of you seem to have taken those challenges and met them head on, adjusting your curriculum to fit the format of this year.  As a fellow educator, I acknowledge how exhausting that can be.  I am grateful to know our student is in good hands this year, whether it be virtually or (possibly!) in person at some point.  Thank you to each of you for all you do each day!" 
  • "Thank you to all the amazing staff at Leota for a fantastic Curriculum Night and also for all your efforts over the last few weeks and months! 
  • We were so impressed with how well Curriculum Night was run this evening and also how well all the teachers presented! WoW! It truly was very impressive. 
  • Looking forward to real lessons starting for the kids tomorrow and grateful to all the teachers for everything they have been doing and continue to do. We can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for the teachers and are in awe of what they are managing to achieve.  Thank you and best wishes to you all."   
  • "Just wanted to tell you both that I thought virtual curriculum night went great!!  So many friends have texted tonight and thought doing this virtually worked out so well.  Haven't heard a negative comment.  The teachers...were all warm and friendly and were awesome!  And no one is sitting in the line of cars for 30 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot ;>)"  

Paz Poetry Prize

Congratulations to Alejandro Pérez-Cortés, who teaches Spanish at North Creek High School, and was named the winner of this year’s Paz Poetry Prize. Mr. Pérez-Cortés submitted an original manuscript of poetry in Spanish to the contest, which is named in honor of the late Nobel Prize-winning poet, Octavio Paz. Pérez-Cortés’ award-winning manuscript, “Ima and Coli: The Tree that was never a Seed / Ima y Coli: El Árbol que nunca fue Semilla,” is his own genesis and chronology of his home state, Colima, Mexico. The manuscript, now book, will be translated and published in both English and Spanish. Read more about Pérez-Cortés on our District website

Transportation

I am excited to share information that Transportation Office Manager Bobbie Wood and Transportation Manager Connie Noll recently shared with the Transportation staff this week, especially with the air quality being so poor. What a great time to share how NSD is helping to contribute to a cleaner environment in the future.  Who would ever guess that Seattle would have the world's worst air?  So here goes…

In 2019-20 we received six Propane small buses through a grant.  According to transportation staff; “Propane is a very safe alternative fuel - it is non-toxic and non-poisonous, and poses no harm to groundwater, surface water, or soil. It does not spill, pool or leave any residue when released, but dissipates into the air. Our buses are just as safe as the fuel itself, with built-in features that ensure the safety of the passengers, including tanks that are 20 times more puncture resistant than a typical fuel tank, and are positioned between our robust frame rails. The fuel system is fitted with safety devices and shut-off valves that function automatically.”

In addition to the propane busses, in 2020-21 we will receive three Electric large buses as a result of a grant.  According to transportation staff, these Blue Bird Electric school buses produce zero emissions, ensuring an even healthier environment for our children and our planet. Blue Bird's electric buses can get up to 120 miles in a single charge, depending on terrain and driving habits.  With advances in battery technology, Blue Bird can now offer efficient and affordable electric-powered buses. The vehicle features include: no engine oil changes, no engine air filter change, no smog check/testing, no spark or glow plug, or coil replacements, no transmission maintenance, brake pad change intervals are longer, and fewer coolant changes are needed.  This is another major step toward reducing our carbon footprint; together all things are possible…

Religious and Cultural Observances

In upcoming holidays, I want to note that Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year and is a very important holiday on the Jewish calendar. It celebrates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a ten-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement and recognized as the holiest day of the Jewish year. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews from all over the world celebrate God’s creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah is two days long, and it usually occurs during the month of September, this year being celebrated on September 19 and 20. 

In news from our Racial and Educational Justice Department, it is National Hispanic, and Latinx Heritage Month and we want your help in spreading awareness and celebrating this time. Here is a bit about the month: Each year, the U.S. observes National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx peoples from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Although this has been named Hispanic Heritage Month nationally, “Latinx” has been increasingly added to the title to represent people more inclusively from all Latin countries. You can learn more here

Finally, I hope each of you have the opportunity to enjoy the last weekend of summer.  As I often do when facing challenging events and curious times, I turn to the characters that brought such thoughtful and reflective insight as I grew up. So here goes with some great advice for the coming days and weeks -- “You are braver than you believe, smarter than you seem, and stronger than you think.”  — Winnie-the-Pooh (A. A. Milne)

Warmest regards,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

 

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