Thursday Thoughts: First Week of School, Community Building and More

I trust you are each enjoying a beautiful summer evening. I want to thank you for the great enthusiasm this week. It is so energizing to be back together again as we start this historic school year; together, all things are possible… 

First Week of School

We now have two days under our belt and I am hearing that our summer intensive planning and your commitment to bringing those plans off the page are making all the difference. Many of us are receiving grateful emails from families – some with multiple children in multiple schools and programs – who say their students have successfully participated in every class without a hitch. We are also hearing from families whose students did have technical or other difficulties. They stayed positive and were grateful that their students were able to quickly receive assistance. I also love seeing the back-to-school photos! Angela Campbell sent a photo of her two sweet girls, Kaylani and Kennedy, set up and ready for class. Angela is going to share her tips for setting students up for success next Wednesday morning on Northshore Learns News. If you’d like to see more super cute first day photos, take a look at our District Facebook page. Imagine the possibilities…

I am optimistic for every student and staff member this year. Let’s make sure we stay connected and in conversation. Surely, there will be hiccups along the way and we will work through them together.  

Building Community

One of the areas we are focusing on this year, in addition to excellence in teaching and learning, is building community. While we are physically separated, we can create and nurture healthy and sustainable connections, and support one another. Sometimes, building those connections just requires us to find our passion or our calling. I want to highlight three individuals who have done just that. 

To kick-off the school year at Ruby Bridges Elementary, students attended a virtual assembly where they celebrated the school’s opening, and students welcomed a surprise visitor - Civil Rights Leader Ruby Bridges, who was one of the first Black children to integrate all-white schools in New Orleans. Mrs. Bridges, an activist and author,  answered students questions about her childhood and what is different in the world then and now so that they could learn more about what it means to live up to her legacy in their own school and community. You can watch here. In her own commitment to build community, Mrs. Bridges hopes to connect our Ruby Bridges Elementary with the very first Ruby Bridges Elementary in Alameda, California. Imagine the possibilities! 

I had the opportunity to connect with another inspiring staff member, Sharron McAllister – also known as “The Mask Lady.” Miss Sharron has worked in Northshore for 27 years, first as an instructional assistant and later as one of our beloved school bus drivers. She’s such a dynamo that in 2001, she pursued the completion of her bachelors in Cultural Studies, Literature and Art from the University of Washington. Miss Sharron says one of the things she learned along the way was her classroom became the students who rode on her bus, “Every day I was presented with those small teachable moments and I was given countless opportunities to learn from my students as well.” If that isn't enough, Miss Sharron has been using her time during the pandemic to sew face masks. “I sewed masks for the residents in my building, technicians at the blood-bank, for a nearby medical clinic, and for the school bus drivers who were delivering lunches through the 2019-2020 school year.” If you see bus drivers wearing really cool masks, they may just be hers. Miss Sharron says she feels like she’s coming home this year as a permanent substitute bus driver, and can’t wait to support Transportation and our students. Thank you, Miss Sharron for all you do; it matters! 

Congratulations to Northshore Middle School’s Trudy Swain who was honored with the Washington Family & Consumer Science Educators Teacher of The Year award! "We are extremely proud of Mrs. Swain and her accomplishment,” said Director of Career and College Readiness, Damen Schuneman. “Mrs. Swain is an amazing teacher in every sense of the word. She has a heart for students, is passionate about her subject, and consistently leads her students in engaging and meaningful learning.” Mrs. Swain excelled in growing one of the best programs in the state and has worked on numerous local and state committees that led to the development of state approved frameworks for Food Science. She has also had a deep impact on her community while making connections with her students and local community members through community garden projects. Mrs. Swain said she is humbled to receive the award and gave us a nibble of the work she does with students, “In CTE-Family and Consumer Science we don't just bake cookies anymore, but when we do we teach our students about the role of heat and acids interacting with the ingredients to form new compounds that can be eaten! We also engage students in leadership service learning and encourage them to reflect upon their own growth and development as humans so that they can better understand those around them.  I have the best job in the world.”  We have one amazing community and it keeps on growing! 

Capital Projects

I also want to give a shout out to the Capital Projects team, led by Director Dri Ralph, that is helping to keep our district moving forward even as we sometimes feel some things are still at a standstill. This summer, important bond-funded safety upgrades are underway, including Phase 1 of the camera installation project, which aims to give staff the ability to monitor students and visitors, as well as deter vandalism on our campuses. This phase includes installing additional interior and exterior cameras at Frank Love, Kenmore, Maywood Hills, Shelton View, Woodin and Crystal Springs elementary schools, and it follows the pilot project which was completed last spring at Westhill Elementary and Sorenson Early Childhood Center. The upgrades at the secondary level will be ongoing and are expected to be complete in 2022. Thank you to our generous Northshore voters who approved the 2018 bond, which makes these important safety upgrades possible for our students and staff. Learn more about these upgrades by visiting our district website.  

I have heard so many great stories of the work going on in the schools and departments this week. So many excited students and families about the start of a new school year. Please know how much you are each appreciated. Our community is better for your efforts. 

As we have a long holiday weekend ahead of us, let's be mindful of the meaning behind Labor Day which honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. Thank you for all that each of you do each and every day to support our students and families. I hope you will find a joyful way to make space for family and friends this weekend. 

All the best and take good care, 

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.



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