Superintendent's Update

March 2020

School Closures Updates

Dear Staff and Parents,

I am so grateful for the amazing team that we have in ESD. During this tumultuous time period, we recognize that families and staff have encountered challenges and experienced suffering. While I recognize that these are trying times, I also thought it was important to acknowledge the accomplishments of our students and staff that occurred before the school closures and provide information about ESD's plans (currently) about next steps moving forward.

First, principals and district leaders have met several times within this past week to prepare staff members for how we could use our innovative talents to provide meaningful learning opportunities for students during the school closures. Teachers will be contacting students weekly starting the week of March 30th and focusing on developing and deepening our capacity for continuous learning. More information about specific lessons by grade level and content will be shared with parents by individual schools starting next week. If parents would like to check out a Chromebook, then please contact the principal at your child's school. They will arrange for a time for you to get this device for your child, starting next week.

Additionally, the use of Google Classroom and applications that are already on the Chromebooks will be key to our communication with students. Our IT department is working closely together with principals and teachers to identify which students need internet and technology support while at home. We will also provide more limited editions of paper packets, as needed.

Patty Kimmel, ESD Special Education Director, is also collaborating with case managers to see that we have the proper supports in place to ensure that all students are able to access the educational experiences that we are able to offer. During the week of March 30th, all faculty at each school will be participating in professional development that will empower them to use virtual platforms successfully and to begin planning for enriching learning lessons for students. We hope to launch some of these new experiences before the end of next week and should be rolling forward with full scale engaging lessons across all schools by the week of April 6th.

Other Updates Include:

Academic Supports:
  • Starting the week of March 30th, high school staff will be prioritizing academic support for all seniors to ensure that seniors have what they need to graduate. Please anticipate more information to be disseminated next week from Ellensburg High School.
  • Senior Events: We recognize that a student's senior year is special, and we will be looking for ways to celebrate the end of the year in formats that comply with all recommendations that are issued from the Kittitas County Public Health Department.
  • Equity/Inclusion/Co-teaching: Equitable access to instruction for all students is a value for ESD during this school closure, and we are currently developing ways to ensure that all students have access to the lessons we will be developing. Co-teaching and small group instruction (as described below) is a model that we have implemented in various classrooms across the schools, and we are curently exploring how this model could be used in a virtual setting during the school closure time period.
  • FAQ regarding academic supports: Click (here)


  • We will continue to offer the "Grab and Go" drive through meals from 11:30-1:00 on the north side of Morgan Middle school. This service will start up again the week of March 30th.

Daycare for First Responders and Healthcare Personnel:

  • We sent out a survey to first responders and healthcare personnel this week through Chelsey Loeffers, Health Promotion Supervisor with Kittitas County Public Health Department. We hope to organize and implement daycare at Valley View Elementary sometime during the week of March 30th.
  • For more specific information about daycare services click (here).

Equity in Ellensburg School District

Achieving equitable results for all students and providing an inviting, affirming learning environment where all students thrive, are goals that we have for our students in Ellensburg School District. Even with the school closures, we are actively identifying ways to ensure equitable access for all students to instruction. As a district, we are on a journey to becoming culturally responsive educators who embrace the diversity reflected in our students, staff and community.

Some of the steps we have taken this year include learning how to use data from various assessments to monitor the academic growth of all students but especially for the students who are in subgroups that are under-performing the general population. Building administrators and district level leaders also have been working together as a cohort with the Washington State Leadership Academy. Together we are learning how to best support our teachers, within their Professional Learning Communities, to gather and look at achievement data in order to monitor the progress of all students but especially the progress of our English Language Learners (ELL).

We have had the great opportunity to take advantage of the coaching expertise from state sponsored coaches Kathryn Paige and Sue Connelly. They have facilitated opportunities with teachers and principals to lead informative conversations about data and to identify and implement best practices for our ELL students. Small group instruction and increasing chances for students to talk to each other about what they are learning are two strategies that many teachers across the district are working on to increase equitable outcomes for all students.

Co-teaching is another approach that is being strategically implemented in ESD. When teachers co-teach, there is typically a special education teacher who is paired with a general education teacher to support a group of students. There are several different models of co-teaching that can be used. This short article from Edutopia lists the pros and cons of various co-teaching models.

ESD has implemented this model in some classrooms at both the secondary and elementary schools. The two year grant that ESD received from OSPI (as described below) will help the district to make more informed decisions on how to best move forward with this model in the future. One of the biggest benefits of co-teaching is that it allows students with learning disabilities to remain in the general education classroom to receive instruction, instead of being removed to a resource room. Our goal for all students is that they feel included and valued for their strengths because these conditions foster accelerated and enhanced learning.


Please join me in congratulating Kathi Keefer as our next principal for Mt. Stuart Elementary School. As most of you know, Dan Patton is retiring at the end of this year. Kathy has been the assistant principal at Mt. Stuart this year. After going through a rigorous hiring process that included interviews with teachers, parents and administrators, Kathi was selected to be the new principal of Mt. Stuart starting July of the 2020-2021 school year. Kathi received National Board Certification in Early Learning and has been both a teacher and administrator for several years. We are thrilled to see her move into the principal position for next year.

ESD Knowledge Bowl Celebrations

Ellensburg High School earned the 2A championship plaque and a state advancement during the Educational Service District 105 regional meet hosted at Ellensburg on Feb. 26. Ellensburg amassed 106 points, which was the highest among 15 schools at the regional event, while also opening with a tournament-high score of 45 points in the written round.

Ellensburg has placed at the past six state Knowledge Bowl tournaments. The school finished at 8th last year, was 5th in 2018, took 2nd in both 2017 and 2016, was 5th in 2015, and came in 8th at state in 2014.

This year’s Ellensburg team members are: Peter Hogan, Stephen Martin, Rowan Utzinger, Jaden

Burroughs, Meredith Nover, and Tess Preppernau. The group’s faculty coach is Marco Bicchieri.

* News release submitted to the Daily Record

BOARD END #1: Strong Foundational Academic Skills for All Students: Equity and Co-Teaching

The Ellensburg School District has been awarded a two-year grant from OSPI to increase the number of general education, special education and EL teachers providing services to students in an inclusionary format within the general education classroom.

The $48,000 grant will provide opportunities for general and special education teachers and administrators to access professional development opportunities. For example, 24 ESD teachers and administrators will access training in the areas of Co-Planning and Co-Teaching on April 29th ( which could be rescheduled). The grant will also provide training from Savanna Flakes, an international trainer on co-teaching, and co-planning Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Savanna will be in our district on June 4th and 5th (assuming we are back in our buildings). Savanna will model co-teaching and UDL strategies in co-taught classes at Morgan Middle School. Staff from the elementary schools and high school will observe her demonstration of these strategies in the classroom.

Year two of the grant will focus on professional development in utilizing Tier 2 social/emotional/behavioral strategies in the general education classroom. There will also be professional development in the area of high leverage practices pertaining to language acquisition and EL students.

BOARD END #2: Preparing Students to be Global Citizens in an Ever Changing World: Excellence with Technology

Congratulations to the following 10 Ellensburg High School students enrolled in Ms. Price's AP Computer Science A (Java) class, who earned their Microsoft Technology Associate Certificate today in Java. The MTA in Java is an industry recognized certificate and can lead to jobs such as a software engineer, java developer, and web developer. Java is ranked as one of the most popular programming languages and is used by the world's biggest companies to build desktop apps and web systems. Having this certificate gives these students a competitive edge in any career they choose. For some of these students, this is their second Microsoft Technology Associate certificate to add to their resume. Way to go!!!

Mitchell Garcia

Peter Hogan

Nathaniel Brons*

Ethan Price*

Thomas Lonowski*

Isaiah Colwell*

Melissa Lopez-Barbosa*

Garrett Mullings*

Adele Caron*

George Libenow*

* Earned a MTA certificate in Java and Python programming languages

BOARD END #3: Connections with EHS Community: Excellence with Winter Sport Season's Teams:

ESD has much to celebrate related to the accomplishments of our winter athletic teams. These celebrations include:

1) Girls basketball

  • Varsity 24-3 Record- League Champs, District Champs, WA State 6th Place
  • First team all league: Dylan Philip, Brinley Hagemeier
  • All League Honorable Mention: Kaelynn Smith

2) Boys Basketball

  • Varsity 7th place League Play
  • First team all league- Ryan Ferguson

3) Bowling

  • Varsity: Morgan Olin qualified for the state bowling tournament

4) Wrestling

  • Varsity : 6-3 season record
  • First team: All League- Lorenzo Gonzalez
  • Second team: All League- Christian Davis, Francisco Ayala
  • All League Honorable Mention- Henry Rinehart

Tournament placing:

Christian Davis: 3rd in District, 1st in Regionals, 2nd in State

Francisco Ayala: 2nd in District, 2nd in Regionals, 2nd in State

Lorenzo Gonzalez: 1st in District, 1st in Regionals, 2nd in State

Henry Rinehart: 1st in District, 3rd in Regionals, Top 10 in State, Academic State Champion.

Sailor Walker: 1st in District, 4th in Regionals, Girls Wrestling State Qualifier

Bond Project Update

The ground breaking ceremony for Mt. Stuart that was going to happen on April 2nd will be rescheduled for a later date. We are excited, however, to see the construction crews move forward in putting up fencing and moving their equipment into the new Mt. Stuart site.

So far, construction crews have been given the green light to move forward with our projects with the understanding that crews practice social distancing while they work.

Social Distancing

During these uncertain times, I am slowly learning how to appreciate virtual connections, as I "Zoom" from one meeting to the next. I believe that relationships are at the heart of our hope and joy. I understand the importance of social distancing and support all of the precautions and directives that have come from Governor Inslee and the Kittitas County Public Health Department. From a human perspective, I have missed meeting face-to-face with family and colleagues. I now realize that in the past, I often took for granted the privilege of being physically in someone's presence. I look forward to better times ahead when we can once again offer hugs and handshakes with the folks we encounter and care about.


Jinger Haberer, Superintendent