September 6, 2023: First Day of School Reflections

September 6, 2023: First Day of School Reflections

Northshore School District logo in blue


Students raise hands in response to teacher's question
Superintendent Michael Tolley talks with students
Students play on a playground during recess


September 6, 2023

Dear Northshore Students, Families, and Staff,

Like many of you, I was up early in anticipation for today and the start of the school year. I started my work day at 6 a.m. with our dedicated bus drivers, followed by a number of school visits. This year, I visited schools in the East region beginning with Timbercrest Middle School and closing out my day at Woodinville High School. 

At Timbercrest, I joined in as sixth-grade students were welcomed by our eighth-grade WEB leaders and staff - all wearing bright pink t-shirts. WEB stands for “Where Everybody Belongs,” and is a middle school orientation, transition, and mentoring program. It is a great program and took place across our six comprehensive Northshore middle schools. 

At East Ridge Elementary, I had the opportunity to welcome back families and students - meeting them in the drop off area. Students were ready and excited to see their friends, meet their teachers, and be back at school. The students’ enthusiasm says a lot about our incredible staff and how welcoming they make our schools.  

After visiting with students and families at East Ridge, I headed over to Cottage Lake Elementary where I was warmly welcomed by office staff and Jaxx - the school’s emotional support dog. At Cottage Lake, our educators have been focused on supporting student identity and connection. In a number of classrooms, the day began with a class meeting that included each student sharing their name, how it is pronounced, and what they would like to be called by their peers. These types of activities help build community and reinforce our District’s commitment to belonging. 

At Sunrise Elementary, I was excited to tour classrooms with Principal Lenz. Students were already deeply engaged in learning by the time I arrived. First-grade students were overjoyed about the idea of playing on the “upper playground” - a privilege gained with age. At recess, they took full advantage of more space to play - building sand castles, finding bugs, sharing adventures from summer, and strengthening friendships. 

Not on my original agenda was a quick stop at Woodin Elementary to connect with the school leader and staff. If I ever have a spare moment, I try to get into schools and classrooms. Being with and learning from students and our staff is the best part of my job! 

My last school visit today was at Woodinville High School. A huge thanks to the fantastic Link Crew students that welcomed our freshman to high school. Each “crew” was led by an older student, had a fun theme, and provided an opportunity for our ninth-grade students to learn all about Woodinville. I also want to thank the school administration for setting up a “Table with Tolley,” where I was able to hear directly from our newest high school students. It was a fantastic way to start the school year. 

I hope all of our students and staff enjoyed today as much as I did. I am so grateful for the opportunity to lead Northshore School District and support our amazing students, dedicated staff, and engaged families. 

I am looking forward to tomorrow and another inspiring day in our schools. 2023-24 is going to be a great school year! 

Michael Tolley



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