Winter 2019-20 edition

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Benge School District: Quality comes in small packages

It has occasionally held the title of the smallest school district in Washington. No more. With 19 students in grades K-6, the Benge School District is roughly twice as large as it once was.

The arrival or departure of even one family can cause a noticeable swing in enrollment. What it lacks in numbers, however, it easily makes up in spirit. Benge, located a half-hour southeast of Ritzville in Adams County, is the little engine that could – and does.

The district provides its students a well-maintained campus that includes two comfortable classrooms, all manner of modern technology, a gymnasium, a recently completed greenhouse and an attentive staff that – no surprise – provides abundant doses of individual attention. Read more...

Photo caption above: While two students are missing from this photo, the entire student body easily fits in a single picture frame. Staff members Bob Moore, Martha Heidenreich and Lori Graves are in the top row.

Photo caption below: Benge students make ready use of abundant technology resources.

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Take a Bow: Highlighting district & ESD honors

Kudos to NEWESD 101 Open Doors Program, Davenport School District and NEWESD 101 employees, Leon Covington and Eric Dickson. Read more...
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Superintendent's Column: Lessons from Laina

On the first day, and the last, and at every class session in between, she sat in the back corner. A bright smile, she was attentive, interested, observant. Her intention was to do what she had been taught when she was a young child, by the impactful women in her life – her grandmother, mom, and aunts – sit, listen and observe.

Yet this graduate student, now a school principal, has incredible wisdom and perspective to share; this remarkable listener has paid so much attention to the people important in her life that others must learn from her. As with her fellow students, and assuredly as with the staff and students she serves, I have been fortunate to benefit from her lessons – and from her powerful example. Read more...

Before Fixer-Upper Shows Were Popular

Move over Property Brothers. Spokane has its own fixer-upper program that actually pre-dates the brothers’ television fame.

The difference is that the Spokane version is a training program rather than a television program. For more than a quarter century, NEWESD 101 has trained students for careers in home renovation and construction. Through the years, more than 50 housing units have been rehabilitated or constructed for low-income families. Read more...

Photo Caption: Program Manager Brandi Langhofer and Construction Supervisor Steve Green pose outside this home awaiting renovation by student construction crews.

NEWESD Board Members from Director District 2

Thanking Our Leaders, Present and Future

Since 2012, NEWESD 101 has been extremely fortunate to benefit from the wisdom and active service of Kathy Bumgarner as a member of our Board of Directors.

Ms. Bumgarner was a long-time educator in the Spokane Public Schools, serving as both a teacher and instructional facilitator, and she had also previously served for many years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cheney Public Schools.

The students she taught and the colleagues she supported, the school district for which she provided Board service, and for the past eight years all of the school districts in the NEWESD region have been extremely fortunate to benefit from Kathy’s dedication to the highest quality education for everyone. She will be missed!

Schynequa Hocking will succeed Ms. Bumgarner as the NEWESD Board member from Director District 2, and we welcome her to the Board in late January. Ms. Hocking, who works for the Washington College Access Network, will join continuing Board members Emmett Arndt, Chuck Stocker, Rand Lothspeich, June Sine, and recently re-elected Board members Phil Champlin and Sally Pfeifer.

Paraeducator Training Required for this School Year

Paraeducators in Washington are required to complete the first 14 hours of a Fundamental Course of Study during the 2019-20 school year.

NEWESD 101 has been front and center in the statewide effort, conducting both regional training in Spokane and myriad in-district events. These efforts will continue through the end of the school year.

Training is provided by staff in NEWESD 101’s centers for Teaching and Learning and Special Education. The

two-day program includes units on cultural identify and diversity; equity; methods of educational and instructional support; and positive and safe learning environments.

For training dates and registration, visit, then click on “Paraeducator” in the left column. For more information, please contact Connie Kliewer at (509) 789-3529 or

For more information visit

Workforce Education Expands

Earlier this year, when the Legislature approved legislation expanding workforce education in the state, NEWESD 101 did not have to look far for a candidate to make it happen.

Approximately 170 miles to the west, in Wenatchee, a familiar face was found. Dennis Conger, former director of Spokane’s NEWTech Skill Center, was working as director of career and

technical education for the Wenatchee School District.

Showcasing Our Regional Talent

Classified Employee of the Year

Nominations are open through January 24, 2020. The award is open to any classified school or district employee working at least half time. One candidate is selected for regional honors in each ESD. From those nine, a committee then chooses a state Classified Employee of the Year.

For more information:

Online nomination form:

Teacher of the Year

Nominations for regional and state Teacher of the Year honors also open in January. Similar to the Classified award program, a state finalist is chosen from a pool of regional winners. Once nominated, regional candidates are evaluated on the basis of a written application.

For more information:

High School Visual Art Show

NEWESD 101’s 47th annual student showcase is right around the corner.

All entries will be on display at the NEWESD 101 Talbott Event Center beginning February 10, 2020. The public showing will culminate with an awards ceremony and reception March 19 at 5 p.m.

Art pieces can be delivered to NEWESD 101 between January 27-February 5.

For more information:

The NEWESD 101 contact for all three programs is Mary Kempel: or (509) 456-2715.

About focus

Focus is published by the Superintendent of NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101. Focus is published to provide current information about NEWESD 101-sponsored and co-sponsored programs and issues of educational significance to staff in the 59 public school districts, 45 state-approved private schools and two charter schools receiving administrative and instructional support services from NEWESD 101.

Comments, questions or suggestions should be sent to the editor.

Winter 2019-20

Volume 34, Number 2

Board of Directors: Emmett Arndt, Kathy Bumgarner, J. Rand Lothspeich, Sally Pfeifer, June Sine, Chuck Stocker, Phil Champlin

Superintendent: Michael Dunn

Editor: Steve Witter

Designer: Tracy Poindexter-Canton