Friday, February 26th, 2021

Caring Connections ~ Conversations with Erica

The Bellingham School District has a yearly practice to celebrate the great work happening in our community. These practices are called the One Schoolhouse Award and the Promise Award. Each year as the winners are announced, I pause to marvel at the recipients and I am left feeling such pride to be part of a team of people who are working so hard for children and families in our community. I also always know that while only a few people are mentioned each year, there are so, so many others who are working just as hard and with just as much commitment and heart as those mentioned publicly.

So, this month I am pausing to think about, to honor and to express gratitude for our own incredible team of educators who work so diligently and with such commitment for all kids and families in our BFPP homeschool community.

This month I celebrate these people in our BFPP community:

Our eight new teachers who joined our growing program with a fierce desire to understand the BFPP community even though they’ve never had the joy of walking through the hallways as Lincoln proudly reads his story aloud, as Garreth stands in awe while he checks on the salmon tank outside of Caroll’s office, or as families support and mentor one another from the couches. Many of our new teachers have never met with you in person but they are making connections with your family and with our staff, which is truly courageous and remarkable in this virtual schooling landscape.

Your BFPP leadership team who shows up daily to meeting after meeting in service to figuring out the next best decision for our families, for our students and for our staff. They take risks while trying to grow, they make mistakes and apologize, they ask tough questions and grapple with change and uncertainty. They try. Every day. To serve you imperfectly in the most loving and innovative ways possible.

Each Learning Plan Partner who offers wisdom and listens with care and shares their own stories and orders materials and ponders the unique needs of your family long after your scheduled meeting or email ends. They seek support when they don’t know how to best serve you and they allow space in their brains and their hearts for the unique needs of your family, every day.

Secretary Caroll Chambers, who works tirelessly on our behalf, behind the scenes, navigating the wide, wide range of diverse needs every single day. Our population of families and staff has grown tremendously this year, and she continues to do the work of many, mostly on her own. She is a marvel.

The Learning Together Workshop team members who offer up the best of themselves in service to the best in each of you. Leading and offering workshops is not a BFPP expectation, it is simply an invitation to connect deeper to the community, to serve broadly and to share creativity and inspiration. This semester we have so many practitioners wanting and willing to serve you, simply because they care. (see the offerings below)

If you feel this gratitude too, please share it out loud. This time of year is dark and cold and slumpy and everyone can use a little boost and since gratitude is a win-win offering, why not spread it around?

Spring is around the corner and it's time to reconnect with our BFPP community. In the next three months we have many amazing Learning Together Workshops and there is something for everyone. Past participants share the value of both learning new tools and community connection. Join us for one, some or all....
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Homeschool Hacks for the February Blahs

Thank you to all who shared your Homeschool Hacks. I enjoyed compiling them.

May they add ease, enthusiasm, joy, and margin to our homeschooling lives.

Congratulations to the winners of our Whatcom Think Local First gift cards:

  • Jacque Rafferty
  • Katy Reynolds
  • Haley Jarret
  • Josh Shupack

A digital gift card is headed your way!

Here's to February winding down, the extra light of daylight savings time arriving March 14th, and spring following close behind on March 20th!

-Heidi Z

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BFPP article in Bellingham Alive!

Our growing program is featured in this month's Bellingham Alive! magazine.

Music Resource

I love rock music, the humanities, and the arts, and the website TeachRock combines all of these. Aimed at upper elementary/middle school kids, it's sociology, music, design, and so, so much more -- all through the lens of rock and popular music. ('s free).

Sidenote: Teacher Piper and I drove up to Vancouver, B.C. to attend a training on using this resource, which included a free concert by none other than Steven Van Zandt (founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and mob consigliere Silvio Dante on TV's The Sopranos). On the way there, my Prius began to run out of battery- while under a tunnel with two lane, rush hour traffic. It was most stressful, but Piper pulled me through and we made it to the concert, leaving all worries in the wind! We later co-taught a class based on this website, which we all -students and teachers alike- thoroughly enjoyed.

I hope that you find some love and inspiration here.

-Maestra Carol

Needed: Heat Lamp and Aquarium for Gecko

A BFPP family is looking for an aquarium with a heat lamp for their gecko. Perhaps someone has a set up currently gathering dust? If you have something you'd be willing to donate, please contact teacher Jackie Brown. Thank you!

Nature Club

BFPP 5th grader Avalon is starting a nature club! Kids ages 5-8 are invited to participate with parent participation. The club will facilitate exploration of our natural world through discussion and activities, with a focus on learning ways to be better stewards of the environment. Club meetings are on Zoom, Thursdays at 1pm, beginning March 4th. To sign up or for more information, please email Avalon's mom Alisha Porter.

Padilla Bay Workshops

This spring, Padilla Bay is offering free Junior Ecologist classes over Zoom for 6-9 year-olds as well as a variety of classes for all ages. Explore topics such as The Wonderful Word of Eelgrass, Meet our Marine Mammals, and The Water Cycle.

Boynton Poetry Contest & Workshop

All Whatcom County residents (including students grades k-12) are invited to participate in the annual Boynton Poetry Contest. Entries will be accepted March 1st - 31st.

Join John Green for a free CHILDREN'S POETRY WORKSHOP on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 from 11am - 12:15pm (on Zoom). To sign up, please email - with your/your child's/student’s name, contact email, phone number, and title of the workshop.

March Mammal Madness

Playing off the March madness NCAA basketball tournament format and running the entire month of March, 65 animals begin but only one will be declared champion! Mammals from four divisions square off in different biomes. Scientists from colleges around the country write the fictional showdowns on Twitter - until only one emerges victorious.

Get your bracket and follow along with the action here! There are elementary age resources such as a slide show as well as lesson plans and worksheets for older students.

To get the results of the contests and follow along:

● Follow the action “live” on Twitter tournament nights by following @2021MMMletsgo

● Watch MC Marmot on YouTube the morning after a battle

Meal Boxes Continue

Weekly meal box pickup for all Bellingham School District students continues on Wednesdays from 4-5:30pm. Beginning March 10th, boxes will no longer be available to pick up from Carl Cozier, Geneva, or Cordata Elementary schools.

Substitutes Wanted

Bellingham Public Schools are hiring! Please view our job postings and contact the District’s Employment Specialist for more information about paraeducator, office positions, bus drivers, and other part time job opportunities in our schools. These jobs are ideal for those who are looking for part time and flexible work assignments.

Our safety protocols, based on the advice of the Whatcom County Health Department, the CDC, and Governor Inslee, include key mitigation strategies: mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when sick. Our district has a comprehensive contact tracing process if/when needed, that is led by our COVID safety team in partnership with the Whatcom County Health Department.

For assistance with questions about temporary substitute assignments, you may contact Gayle Wright, Substitute Coordinator.

Questions about other job opportunities in our schools may be addressed by contacting Kara Silsbee, Employment Specialist.

For Your Consideration...

Getting Clearer: Schooling Loss, Not Learning Loss

“Students are experiencing school loss and peer interaction loss, not learning loss. Our students are learning every, single day. They are learning deeply, personally, and significantly about many things. What they are not doing is schooling. There is a narrative in America that assumes schooling is learning. It is not.”

Pandemic Offers Opportunity to Reduce Standardized Testing

"...the pandemic-induced pause in standardized testing may be bringing about a welcome change in the terms of the standardized testing debate."

Newsletter Contributions Welcome

Please email Heidi Zollner with your news items.