Superintendent's Update

February 2020

Great Happens Here in ESD!

Dear ESD parents, guardians and staff,

I appreciate the support and active involvement that ESD has experienced with our Ellensburg community. Passing the $59.5 million-dollar bond and demonstrating a passionate commitment to eliminating polystyrene from school lunches are just a few examples of the ways our community has actively sought to work as a team to create positive outcomes for our students.

First, we celebrate the forward movement of our bond projects. A special thank you to the City of Ellensburg for their help in establishing our building plans. We invite all parents and community members to our ground breaking ceremony for the new Mt. Stuart on April 2nd at 10:30 a.m.

Additionally, we hosted three evening public sessions to explore the types of learning experiences that we could offer at the new school on the Winegar property. Our goal was to choose a framework for the new school that would promote the outcomes that we desire for students as outlined by our Board Ends. Some of the educational opportunities that we desire for all students include giving students chances to have choices in what they learn and providing authentic ways for students to apply their learning (which includes outdoor education).

After engaging in multiple conversations with teachers and parents who attended these public meetings in September, October and January, developing a partnership with Pacific Institute Education (PEI) was recommended and accepted by the Board of Education as an important way to support a more experiential approach with students. We are currently working together with this nonprofit organization to see how we could use the PEI Field-STEM Framework to promote this approach. We intend to engage with PEI to sponsor future professional development for teachers who move to this new school. Much of this same professional development would also be open to all teachers in our district. Additionally, we intend to use the current Board adopted district-wide math and literacy curriculum in all of our elementary schools, including the new school.

As outlined by our ESD Board Ends, we acknowledge that over time, our goal is for all educators to use a project-based/experiential lens (the PEI Framework being one example of this type of lens) when utilizing the adopted curriculum as their primary resource with elementary students. Many of our teachers are already incorporating this project based/experiential approach periodically within their classrooms, and we desire to build the capacity for all teachers to promote these types of learning opportunities for students.

Taking advantage of the outdoor education area next to Mt. Stuart is also a goal for all of our elementary schools to promote experiential learning. ESD is fortunate to have about half of our teachers with 16 or more years of experience, and our ESD teachers and para educators are dedicated to providing a quality education for all students. ESD is also a learning organization. The professional development offered by PEI would complement the strengths that teachers already demonstrate every day and could be helpful in honing and developing their craft around project-based, experiential learning for all students.

Polystyrene Committee

Of equal importance, a huge thank you to all of the students, parents, community members and staff who participated on and supported the important work of the ESD Board-created Polystyrene Committee. The passion of our young people was especially impressive as they researched the negative effects of polystyrene on the environment and our health. The presentation that was given by this committee at the ESD Board of Education on January 22, 2020 was exceptional and very informational. Working together with this committee, we developed a plan for next year that will propel ESD forward in reducing and eventually eliminating the use of polystyrene in our schools. We appreciate the possibility of future fund raising efforts by our community to help us reach our long-term goal of replacing polystyrene trays with hard-sided washable trays within all ESD schools.


Congratulations to Ellensburg High School for their work towards ensuring that all freshmen succeed. They recently received an award from Stand For Children for their work in significantly increasing the number of freshmen who are on track to graduate. Increasing opportunities for students to get extra academic help and attend winter school for credit retrieval are just a few of the Freshman Success Initiatives that EHS has put in place. Staff also received professional development at the beginning of this year regarding the specific needs of freshmen, as they transition from middle school to high school. Freshmen are also encouraged to set goals for themselves, and all freshmen participated in student-led conferences last fall. Research done by the National Dropout Prevention Institute states that freshmen success is essential to preventing students from dropping out of high school.

Excellence in Music

(adapted from Kate Sander's article)

ESD's orchestra, band and choir students were recently represented in the Washington Music Educators' Association (WMEA) Honor Groups Feb14-16, and two students also received national and international recognitions. These celebrations included participation in the following groups:

  • Hina Allen, viola, Payton Harvill, string bass, percussion, for the All-State Orchestra
  • Connor Schwarz, French horn, McKenzie Bandy, for the All-State Wind Ensemble
  • Cristian Caballero, tenor saxophone, Jacob Town, French horn, and Abby Whitemarsh, trumpet (cornet), for the All-State Concert Band
  • Logan Cook, trumpet, and Elliot Sander, piano, for the All-State Jazz Band
  • Thomas Lonowski, percussion, for the first-ever WMEA All-State Percussion Ensemble
  • Lydia Blaisdell, first soprano, and Soren Lundquist, second bass for the 2020 All-State Symphonic Choir
  • Jael Cutlip, first soprano, for the All-State Treble Choir
  • Conner Schwarz for the 2019 National Association for Music Education All International Honor Band
  • Annie Kang for the 2019 National Association for Music Education All National Concert Band.

Exceptional Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Program

Congratulations to the EHS FBLA students who competed this month at the Regional Competition. Good luck as they prepare for State.

1st place—Jessica Collins, Personal Finance

1st place—Corgan Smith, Economics

2nd place—Jessica Collins Kolby Fahey, Stuart Loverro; Entrepreneurship

3rd place—Suart Loverro, Kolby Fahey, Nick Jewell; Management Decision Making

4th place—Courtney Bach, AgriBusiness

5th place—Morgan Whitemarsh, Corgan Smith; Emerging Business Issues

5th place—Bella Estey, Global Business

5th place—Ashlyn Rominger, Health Care Administration


ESD Bond Project Update

We have updated information about our Bond Projects. For the most current information please visit our newly designed website.


When road conditions deteriorate, it is important to know how we will communicate with our students' families, staff and the community regarding delays and closures of school. Be sure to familiarize yourself with our Communication Plan.

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.

Board End #1: Solid Academic and Future Ready Skills

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.

Board End #2: Successful Global Citizens in an Ever-Changing World

Giving students opportunities to explore various career pathways and develop future ready skills are important values in ESD. During recent high school visits to Ms. Burton's and Mr. Alt's classrooms, I observed students eagerly learning essential scientific skills and being challenged to apply their content knowledge to laboratory models and experiments. In Ms. Burton's classroom, students were asked to apply their knowledge about the circulatory system by pumping red liquid through tubes connected in a way that is similar to how our hearts operate. In Mr. Alt's classroom, students were learning important scientific techniques related to successfully extracting DNA from one organism and infusing this DNA into bacteria. Kudos to our EHS science department for the hands-on authentic learning experiences that they are providing for our students. Who knows? We may have students who are inspired to pursue health care, scientific or STEM related fields as a result of these types of classroom experiences.

Board End #3: Strong Connections with: Peers, Staff, School and Local Community

While touring elementary classrooms with ESD Board members last Friday, we had the awesome experience of watching Valley View's forth grade teacher, Ms. Malcolm, facilitate a lesson on how to use kind words and actions, even when people get " under our skin". Students effectively used the talking-piece within their community circle to give each of their peers a chance to share how they handle feelings of frustration. One student proudly demonstrated how he takes deep breathes to help himself feel calm when he gets upset. ESD continues to support staff and students with the community circle protocol to give all students a safe space where they can problem solve and have a voice.

Effective communication with our community and parents is another important part of creating positive connections. We continue to work on and improve our ESD website, and I have received feedback that our website is becoming more user friendly.

Finally, in order to increase opportunities for feedback and connections with staff, I will be hosting a listening tour in April at each of the schools. This will be a great opportunity for staff members to meet with me and share celebrations, concerns or challenges, and suggestions for district improvement. I also plan to host a morning "Coffee and Conversations" in April and May for both staff and parents who may be interested. More information about these events will be posted in the March Superintendent's Update.

I agree with Michelle Obama that courage can be contagious. Brene Brown, during our Dare to Lead book club, has been teaching us about how rumbling with vulnerability ( being willing to respectfully speak our truth and problem-solve face-to-face) empowers us to be courageous in doing our best for students. We in ESD are excited to build on our strengths by creating spaces for children "that allow students to breathe and be curious and explore the world and be who they are . . . We should never underestimate the benefits to a child of having a place to belong--even one . . . It can and often does change the trajectory of their life." ( Brown, 2018, pg.13).

Together, we are better!


Jinger Haberer, Superintendent