Superintendent's Update

November 2019

Note From the Superintendent

Dear ESD parents, guardians and staff,


As Thanksgiving approaches, I am grateful to be in Ellensburg, serving the staff and students here. I had an opportunity to attend the Ellensburg High School’s and Valley View Elementary School’s Veterans Day celebrations. The level of respect and honor that students showed our Veteran guests was impressive. I am also thankful for the supportive community that we have in Ellensburg and for the excellence that our staff and students continue to demonstrate each day.

Celebrations

SPORTS: Congratulations to all of our student athletes. This fall, all teams qualified to move on to state competitions. A special shout out to Leah Holmgren and the EHS Girls Cross Country Team for taking home the Washington State Title for the first time in Ellensburg School District history. Also, congratulations to Jeff Hashimoto for being selected as both Boys and Girls Coach of the Year for the entire CWAC! Learn More about EHS Athletic Accomplishments.


FINE ARTS: We have many budding professional actors and actresses as demonstrated in this year’s Fall Play. Kudos to the secondary orchestras, bands and choirs for their exceptional performances at each of the Veterans Day school events.


Congratulations to Noreen Norfleet for being selected as the Washington Music Educators Association's (WMEA) 2020 Middle Level Music Educator of the Year! She is an amazing teacher, and we appreciate her expertise.


Instructional Leadership: Another example of ESD excellence is Rosalyn Miller who was recently recognized by the Washington State Math Council as the Math Educator of the Year!

Her expertise is demonstrated not only in the classroom but also in her leadership in implementing math curriculum adoptions in ESD.

ESD Bond Project Update

ESD is pursing the development of one of the new K-5 elementary schools on the Winegar site. The “new in lieu” of renovating the old Mt. Stuart has also begun, and the new Mt. Stuart will be built just north of the existing Mt. Stuart. A thank you to the Mount Stuart staff, OAC Consultants, and Integrus Architects for their support of our “New Mt. Stuart Celebration” that was held on October 30th 2019. For all of the news regarding Bond Project developments, please visit our website.

Safety

Safety is a priority in ESD. For information about our latest safety efforts, please refer to Neil Musser’s Safety Newsletter.

Suicide Prevention: Starting this month, ESD will be supporting and requiring all teachers and classroom para-educators to participate in Question-Persuade-Refer (QPR) training. This important training will empower staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of struggling students and help them to get the help that they need. QPR is research-based and a nationally recoginized training for suicide prevention.

Mental Health: In October 2018, Ellensburg School District was awarded a Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some of the programs and services covered by this grant include:


  • Hope Squad: The Hope Squad program is a school-based peer support team that partners with local mental health agencies. Peers select students who are trustworthy and caring individuals to join the Hope Squad. Squad members are trained to watch for at-risk students, provide friendship, identify suicide-warning signs, and seek help from adults.
  • Referral Coordinator Position: The referral coordinator works closely with school counselors to identify students needing additional community support programs. In addition to managing and coordinating referrals to community organizations, this position also provides education to students and families related to community behavioral and mental health resources.
  • Mental Health Trainings: Ellensburg schools have sponsored community trainings in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) in association with Comprehensive Healthcare. Click on this attached link for more specific information about our support for mental health.


A special thank you to Jared Bronkema, principal of Excel, and his team for presenting to the Kittitas Valley Health Network today. This Board was excited about the work that we are doing to support youth mental health and partnerships with the community. Here is his Power Point that highlights our work in ESD.

ESD Board Ends/ Outcomes for Students

During the 2019-2020 school year, we will be focusing on empowering every student to achieve our district-wide outcomes which are also called our Board Ends. We call these outcomes the Board Ends because our Board of Education will be supporting these outcomes with both policies and allocation of resources.

Additionally, this year we will be identifying ways to measure our progress in meeting these Board Ends, as well as developing strategies to support our students in achieving these outcomes.

Our Board Ends are:

Solid Academic and Future Ready Skills

We have strengthened our supports for English Language Learners (ELL) this year by placing an ELL certified teacher in each elementary school. These teachers spend time each day in an English Language Development block with our ELL students, and this time is specific to helping ELL students acquire English. We are currently using materials from National Geographic and our ESD Science kits to create an engaging learning environment for our ELL students.

ESD takes a strengths-based approach to supporting ELL learners and celebrates the expertise of our bilingual students. ESD encourages students who are proficient in two or more languages or whose native tongue is different than English to take the STAMP assessment. STAMP stands for Standards-Based Measure of Proficiency and is a web-based test that assesses language proficiency. Last year, 105 ESD students took the STAMP test, and 34 of these students qualified for the Washington State Seal of Bi-literacy.

District-wide Data Dives: This fall, administrators and teachers from each school are diving deep into their data to identify areas for celebration and improvement. We are adapting a protocol district-wide that encourages rich dialogue about data. The use of this protocol is causing us as a system to identify potential barriers to learning and to find systemic ways to ensure that all students experience academic growth. A special thank you to Kathryn Page, OSSI consultant, who is leading these “Data Dive” sessions. We will be using the results of these sessions to help construct the Schools’ and District’s Improvement Plans.

Successful Citizens in an Ever-Changing World

The ESD Board of Education decided at the October 16th Board meeting to designate a Citizens’ Committee to research the use of Styrofoam trays for school lunches. Students from the EHS Environmental Club will be invited to join this committee. Participating in these efforts will empower students to see how they could contribute to making ESD practices more environmentally friendly.


Additionally, on Friday November 8th, the Leadership Kittitas County Cohort had a chance to hear about the STEM pathway that we are developing in ESD. Tiffany Price, EHS computer science teacher, and Joell Boast, MMS STEM teacher, shared their expertise. EHS is one of the only high schools in the Valley that offers an Advanced Placement Computer Science program. (View computer science related activities.)


We live in a world surrounded by technology. We know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how technology works. This year's National 2019 Computer Science Education Week will start on December 9th. In order to promote computer science awareness, ESD will be participating in and hosting an “Hour of Code.” The idea of having a “ Hour of Code” began as a one-hour computer science experience to demonstrate that anyone can learn the basics of coding. It has since become a world-wide event.
This year's Hour of Code theme is "Change the World". We are seeking to bring together all schools in our district to coordinate an Hour of Code event December 2-13. I encourage all staff and community members to join us in this event. We will be posting more information about this event on our ESD Facebook soon and hope to make this year’s event more successful than ever.

Strong Connections with: Peers, Staff, School and local Community

Again, a huge thank you to all of the efforts by staff and students to host Veterans Day celebrations in all schools across the district. A special shout out to our music staff, student musicians and choirs for their inspirational tunes, and to the EHS band for marching in the City of Ellensburg’s Veterans Day Parade. Honoring our veterans is an important way for students to be connected to their greater community.


“Great Happens Here” in ESD, and I am grateful for the amazing staff and students that we have here. I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving Break!



Sincerely,


Jinger Haberer, Superintendent