Superintendent's Update

December 2020

Great Happens Here in ESD!

Dear staff, parents and students,

We have been working hard to keep learning engaging in both the hybrid and virtual models. During a recent visit at Lincoln Elementary School, I had the wonderful privilege of joining Ms. Haberman's virtual community circle that she hosted with her students. The empathy that her students demonstrated for each other showed the intentionality that Ms. Haberman has used to cultivate trust and positive connections with her students. Also at Lincoln, it warmed my heart to see Virtual Academy kindergarten teachers "high fiving" their students virtually on their screens. Additionally, the Hybrid Model teachers were inspiring students to make predictions about stories like the Gingerbread man and the pig, and students were eagerly inventing games together in small groups out on the playground. Our ESD staff across the district are dedicated to promoting success and equitable access to learning opportunities for all students.

ESD Staff Celebrations: Extra Help on Wednesdays

A huge shout out to our paraeducators for making the extra help that students are able to access on Wednesdays, possible. Their presence with our students and their encouragement to finish various assignments that students are working on has been invaluable in helping our students to experience success.

Additionally, despite the multiple changes that have happened in processes and procedures for the departments of human resources and finance and grants' management, ESD's central office staff have persevered in providing steady support for all entities in the District. A huge thank you for their efforts!

Ida Nason Aronica: Top Recommendation to ESD Board from the Stakeholder Committee

Earlier this year, an open invitation was offered to any interested stakeholder to join the "Naming of the New School Committee" . As a result, we had an amazing and knowledgeable group of community members, teachers and administrators who gathered to explore possibilities for this school. One of the major factors that was considered was that the learning model for this school will include outdoor education and the Pacific Education Field- Stem Framework. This Framework also promotes knowledge about and an appreciation for the Native American history of our region.

Our "Naming Committee" used this framework as the basis for their brainstorming. This group met four times throughout first semester. After many in-depth discussions and a visit to the new school construction site, they will be recommending that the new school be named after Ida Nason Aronica.

Architects met with this committee on December 10th and created possibilities for themes that could be used throughout the school for wayfinding for students across the grades. The name of Ida Nason Aronica will be presented to the Board of Education by the "Naming Committee" as their recommendation at the ESD Board meeting on December 16th. Public comment will be available for anyone who attends this meeting, before the ESD Board takes a vote on the "Naming Committee's" recommendation.

We are hoping that this new building will open towards the beginning of next year. The plan is for the Lincoln Elementary School staff and students to move into this new building, so that work on the Lincoln Elementary School Remodel could move forward.

Thank you again to our amazing Ellensburg community for supporting our bond projects and ensuring state of the art schools for many years to come.

Top ESD Priority: Safety for Staff and Students

We acknowledge that our infection rate is high in Kittitas County. Our staff and students are daily following the protocols related to completing attestations, hand-washing, masking and social distancing. Kittitas Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson has acknowledged that ESD is doing a good job of following the necessary health and safety protocols, and he has not recommended that we close our schools to hybrid learning. Multiple families have contacted ESD and said that their students' attitudes towards learning were positively impacted when they were able to go back to seeing their peers and ESD staff in-person. We are thankful for our continued communication and collaboration with the Kittitas County Public Health Department and will continue to monitor and support safety as a top priority for our staff and students. We ask that our community members also follow necessary safety protocols so that we can continue to keep our schools open.

Early Learning: ESD Partnership with Local Daycare Providers

As our community daycare sites take on something never before asked of them (supporting school-aged children in their virtual learning), it is essential that they are intentionally supported and provided opportunities to be well equipped as they facilitate the learning environments for our ESD K-5 students. This fall, Daycare Directors and ESD Early Learning Coordinator Juli Hamilton have worked closely together to assure that all is in place for ESD students to remain connected and successful in their virtual learning. For example, special education teacher Peggy Kelleher reviewed the Zones of Regulation with daycare staff at Mercer Creek to help them to use different strategies to support children's social and emotional needs. ESD aims to be responsive and flexible in our ongoing support of our amazing daycare partners. See the attached document for more information.

What's Next?

I was recently inspired by American poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou's quote," My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style." Working together we are more than surviving. We are collaborating and spurring each other on to greater ways of connecting with students and empowering them to be life long learners.

My wish for you is that you have a holiday season that is filled with wonder, hope and peace.


Jinger Haberer, ESD Superintendent