Thursday Thoughts: Technology Issues, Judges in the Classroom, Science Olympiad and More

Whew, well this has been quite a week of opportunities.  I want to share my gratitude for you, your ‘can do spirit’, and all your efforts during this challenging time with our technology issues.  I so appreciate your flexibility, commitment to our focused work regardless of the challenges, and dedication to always doing what is in the best interest of each of our students, their families and one another.  We will get through this challenge because of the innovative work that many in our technology department, as well as other departments, have engaged in over the last several days.  Please find a moment of quiet in the coming days; find some stillness in this busyness, and contemplate those things for which we are grateful for; for there are far more of these than challenges.

The human spirit must prevail over technology – Albert Einstein

To that end, I want to provide an update as our amazing Technology Department and other amazing staff continue to move through the system recovery process since learning of last week’s significant cyberattack. The good news is that phones and voicemail are back up ​and we expect many other systems to be restored in the next 2-3 days, including both Synergy and the Food Service systems.  However, a number of systems that usually support our day-to-day learning and business are still down. We are implementing solutions ​for all impacted systems, but they will take a bit more time. Prioritization of the work on these and other major systems is critical to successfully and fully restoring all of our services. What this means in the Technology Department is that we are all hands on deck, spending long hours with our cybersecurity experts assessing the systems, then strategizing on next steps, and developing workarounds and solutions to keep us moving forward as we also work to implement permanent solutions.

As an aside, the Verizon system challenges we experienced today were not part of the cyberattack we are experiencing.  The Verizon service disruptions are in their domain and they are working to address them as quickly as possible.  Many thanks to our IT and Communications Department, as they stepped in with a workaround this afternoon. In a real-time Northshore Innovates moment, Alex Clark and Joe Yamada were able to create a phone number and workaround for parents and community members to access and at least have messaging come into schools from Verizon phone users.  Communications Department staff, Kathy Hughes and Cecilia Shumate then routed messages around the district.  As I previously mentioned, we are working on a thorough thank you document coming out soon, with all those supporting this tech challenge work acknowledged.  Stay tuned…

On Monday, Bothell and Woodinville kicked off their very first slowpitch softball competition. The Falcons and Cougars both came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm as they played their inaugural doubleheader. There were many student athletes on both teams who have never participated in sports at their high school before. This is the first year slowpitch is a WIAA sport and an NSD sport. Our teams will compete against other Kingco and Metro teams. The season runs through the end of October so come cheer on the Falcons and Cougars with us!  Imagine the possibilities…

Group photo of students lined up in front of the classroom whiteboard

This week, Westhill Principal Dana Whitehurst shared a great story as part of our Northshore Inspires work. Last Tuesday was Constitution Day, and in 5th grade teacher Traci Edson’s classroom, students were fortunate to have Rebecca Robertson, a Federal Way Municipal Court Judge, come to talk to students about her role and responsibilities as a judge. Traci was connected to her through a program called Judges in the Classroom, which provides Washington state teachers the opportunity to have a judge come and present age appropriate lessons about state law, and the legal and judicial systems.  Judge Robertson talked to students about her job and what led her to become a judge.  According to Traci, “Students had many questions for her when the presentation was done, and it was fun to learn that she attended Westhill as a child from 1981-1986, and my current room was her 5th grade classroom!”  Principal Dana Whitehurst also attended the presentation and shared, “it was very inspiring to hear the questions the students asked and the genuine interest in learning about our legal system (not to mention Judge Robertson is a Westhill grad!)”  Imagine the possibilities…

In a Northshore Innovates segment, last year NCHS Sophomore Diya Gupta successfully developed and implemented an Elementary Science Olympiad to support a passion for learning science among our younger students. This PTSA approved after school program was available for 4th and 5th graders of Fernwood Elementary School and was free for participating students. Diya managed required funds for this program by conducting Math enrichment classes during weekends at her residence for students in grades 3 to 7. Diya then conducted the end of the year tournament and students were awarded with Washington Science Olympiad medals. This school year Diya would like to expand this enrichment program to all elementary schools within our school district. She has already reached out to PTSA from all the elementary schools within our school district requesting their support and willingness to participate in Elementary Science Olympiad. Based on information shared by Diya with me, many schools have shown an interest and are looking forward to the Information Night. This year Diya is planning to have an end of the year inter-school tournament within our district. Fernwood Principal Kate Bradshaw shared, "In first meeting Diya, I was struck by her passion to bring STEM learning opportunities to students as a result of feeling that such experiences were not available when she was in elementary. Last year, she was able to carry out this passion by partnering with Fernwood's PTSA to engage some of our 4th and 5th graders in a Science Olympiad. It is amazing to see our Northshore students creating pathways to strengthen communities."  I would like to encourage this program and am looking forward to the coming year of learning.  You can read more about Washington Science Olympiad here:  Imagine the possibilities…

Woodinville student standing in front of a poster that says "be the 'I' in kind"

In Northshore Kindness news, WHS counselor Ruth Krochmalny shared a cool poster she made for curriculum night. She also shared a picture of a student standing in front of the poster!  She will have pictures printed and placed around the poster to create the frame!  Ruth shared; “It was so cool to see people posing in front of the poster!” Great example of our Northshore spirit; imagine the possibilities…

Painting of a lion's face

In breaking Northshore Inspires news, Leota Principal Audee Gregor (yes the Lion King winning school ;>) recently shared that one of Leota’s amazing teachers, Cindy Horst, works with a group called University Beyond Bars at the Monroe Correctional Facility where inmates can work towards earning either certificates of completion, AA Degrees, or BA Degrees.  According to Audee, “A group of volunteer inmates at the prison started the Black Prisoners Caucus many years ago, which has expanded to include other inmates and programs, such as the Latino Development Organization (LDO).  It's through these programs that Cindy volunteers. One of the courses that incarcerated inmates can take is art where they get to create two works of art (one they get to keep for themselves and one they donate to a charity for auction).  One inmate from this LDO group asked if he could donate his personal piece of art to a school.  Through much hoop jumping, the picture of the lion is the work of art that this particular inmate donated to Leota.  We have it hanging in our main office foyer.  It's stunning!”  This is such a great example of our Northshore spirit.  I think Audee captures it well with; "I'm so proud of Cindy's heart for this group of men and her work to help them grow academically, perhaps giving them a stronger chance at a positive outcome when they are released.  She is a part of changing lives."  Imagine the possibilities…

In this fall football season, I am reminded of one of our late great coaches and his thoughts, " Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." -- Vince Lombardi  We here in Northshore, have a great team and will continue to realize great results. Together, all things are possible...  And now I am off to the IHS football game at Pop Keeney ;>)     

Wishing you a joyful early fall season and please stay in touch with any questions, concerns, ideas, wonders, etc. as we work through our current challenges.

Warmest regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.



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