Owl Post Update


Thanks to all of you who were able to join us for the Middle School Open House last week.  It was an important opportunity to meet teachers, get information on how our middle school classes work, and figure out how to support your children.  Adding two classrooms of students and additional staff has made the middle school schedule more complex and parent connections even more vital.

The STEM K-8 PTA Direct Give Campaign is underway!  Contributions make it possible for the PTA to support exceptional learning experiences for STEM students.  The Direct Give provides hundreds of STEM books, additional technology, tools, construction materials, scientific instruments, software and supports vital parts of our program such as Project Based Learning.  Funds are used to provide staff with additional planning, training, classroom resources, and support. Donations of any amount are appreciated!

This week on Thursday, October 10 we are hosting our Special Education PTA meeting from 6:00-6:30, followed by a STEM PTA meeting from 6:30-8:00.  At the STEM PTA meeting we will be reviewing this year’s school priorities Continuous School Improvement Plan. Friday, October 11 is a statewide professional development day with no school for students.

Seattle Public Schools marks October  14 as Indigenous Peoples Day.  Washington State has 29 federally recognized Native American tribes, and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has thousands of people who identify as Native American—from students to teachers to our district webmaster.  We celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day to honor the diversity of cultures, histories, resistance, and aspirations of our city, state and country’s indigenous peoples. In Seattle we live on the ancestral land of the Duwamish people who are still here continuing to bring to light their dynamic heritage.



A Message Regarding the September 20 Global Climate Strike

Dear STEM Families,

Community activism, whether locally or globally, has always been a deeply held value in Seattle and in our public schools. Some students may choose to walk out on September 20 to participate in the Global Climate strike.

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is not sponsoring this event, but we honor students’ constitutional right to freedom of expression and the important role young people can have in addressing issues that affect us all. Board Policy 3223, Freedom of Assembly formally acknowledges this commitment.

I believe civil disobedience or protest is about disruption and a powerful strategy to draw attention to the climate crisis.  It’s clear the climate crisis will disproportionately impact our most vulnerable communities, including students.  We do encourage students to express their perspectives through discussions, research, testimony, lobbying, petitions, and demonstrations outside the school day.  As a district Seattle Public Schools calls on Congress, our State Legislature, King County Government, and the City of Seattle to take urgent action to protect our climate and our collective future.

As a STEM school  we know we have to work to make instruction related to climate change/climate justice an important connection in our core curriculum.

While we support our students’ first amendment right to peacefully protest and recognize the urgency of making change to protect the climate and our collective future, when civic engagement includes missing class (i.e. participation in a walkout), we have to follow a standardized SPS approach.

State law (RCW 28A.300.046 and WAC 392-401-020) which guides school district policy, does not allow an excused absence for participation in a walkout. Guidance on student walkouts is posted on the district’s website including information on making up class work and student safety during protests.

If your child wants to participate, please talk and plan with them to support their safety. Once students leave our campus for unsponsored events, Seattle Public Schools can no longer guarantee their safety.  We are not able to allow any student to leave campus without an accompanying adult (and written permission if the adult is not their parent or guardian).


Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal

9-16-19 Owl Post Principal’s Note

Welcome to Week III!  The school year has launched!

A quick safety note: at dismissal students are not allowed to cross the parking lot on their own.  They have to either use the crosswalk at the exit or be walked across the lot with an adult.

This week’s Owl Post includes a letter from our STEM Physical Education Teachers Tim Avery and Matt Schiavo as well as attachments describing the PE curriculum for the year.  Because we use an AB schedule in middle school the 6th-8th grade curriculum maps should be viewed as year-long rather than semester syllabi.

STEM K-8 staff continue to implement RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that helps school communities integrate the teaching of emotional intelligence into daily life. RULER teaches five key emotional intelligence skills:

  • Recognizing – Identifying emotion in oneself and others by interpreting facial expressions, body language, vocal tones and physiological reactions.
  • Understanding – Knowing the causes and consequences of emotions, including the influence of different emotions on thinking, learning, decisions, and behavior
  • Labeling – Using a wide range of emotion words, developing a rich feeling word vocabulary.
  • Expressing – Knowing how and when to express emotions with different people and in multiple contexts (nonverbal, written, and spoken)
  • Regulating – Developing strategies that help us manage our emotions to support healthy relationships and achieve goals.

To open the year the Ruler Anchor tool that students experience first is called the Charter.  Classrooms create Charters that describe how they want to feel in class, what needs to happen to support those feelings, and guidelines for handling conflict.

Creating a Charter involves discussion and response to these questions:

  • How do we want to feel in school each day? Everyone is asked to think about what these feelings will look like in school in terms of specific, measurable, observable behaviors. In other words, what will the group need to do each day to ensure everyone experiences these feelings?
  • What will we do to have these feelings consistently and create a positive learning environment? The class discusses (A) the uncomfortable feelings and unwanted behaviors they would like to avoid experiencing in school and (B) how these feelings and behaviors will be handled and how conflict will be prevented and managed, including what happens when the Charter is breached.

Once the questions are answered, the Charter is written or typed up, signed by everyone in the group, and posted somewhere visible so it can be referred to and revisited for amendments as needed.

Curriculum Nights are approaching fast.  To  support families with multiple children, PreK-5 Curriculum Night/Open House will be on Thursday, September 26 from 6:00-7:30pm. We will introduce staff in the cafeteria and then have two, 35 minute classroom sessions. Middle School Curriculum Night is Thursday, October 3 from 6:00-7:30pm.

Thanks for allowing us to teach your children and being a part of the STEM community!

Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal


School’s started!

Wow it was great to see our halls full of students and families.  So many familiar faces and a liberal sprinkling of new ones as well.  Although STEM staff members followed a variety or routes to education, we share a love of children and it’s great to have you back!

This week we are welcoming a new office assistant, Genevieve Saarenas, who begins on Tuesday. We are thrilled to have Genevieve join our office support team!  She replaces Christa Howsmon, who accepted a promotion to an Administrative Secretary position earlier this summer. Introduce yourself and say hello if you’re passing through the office.

I also have the unfortunate news to share that STEM middle school science teacher Deborah Giza will be taking a leave of absence to address health issues. Her long term prognosis is positive; however she needs to take this time to focus on her health.  An exact timeline for return has not been developed, but we hope to see her before the second semester of the school year.  Ms. Giza appreciates everyone’s concerns and well-wishes, and their respect of her privacy during this period.  If you would like to leave a note or card with the office, we will make sure they get delivered.

A few key reminders as we start the year

Supervision starts in the morning at 8:35 am.  There is not supervision available for students before 8:35 am. At that point students can head to the cafeteria for breakfast or head to one of three supervised locations.

  • Kindergartners start the day on the small inside courtyard playground. They will get there through the main doors.  You can walk them in or staff will watch them enter and direct them there.
  • 1st and 2nd graders start the day on the painted blacktop behind the cafeteria. They can walk across the playground and use the back hall by the cafeteria.
  • 3rd-8th graders start the day on the main playground.

Please communicate any emergency changes to your child’s dismissal routine to the office before 2:00 pm.  With 560 scholars it’s impossible to guarantee that last minute plan changes can be communicated to your students.  With the various delays in bussing that plague the first couple of weeks each year I know many families choose to start the year transporting their children. Communicate to us when that changes.  Bus routes the first couple weeks are often late because drivers are individually checking students off and on the bus.

 Dismissal is at 3:25.

 The rest of the Wednesday’s this year are Early Release Days and school will end at 2:10 pm on Wednesday’s.

Copies of forms included in the Back to School Packet are available on the Seattle Public Schools website. You can also pick up more hard copies at the school office, or ask your child to pick up one to bring home.

Forms needed from all families: FERPA, Emergency Information and Student Release

Others forms may be needed and are available on the Seattle Public Schools website: Free and Reduced Lunch Applications (these have to be turned in every year), Volunteer Background Check, Student Health Information for any students with special health needs, Housing Questionnaire, 504 Identification, Title VII, Advanced Learning applications, and many more. Hadt copies are also available in the school office.

School Meal Prices for the ‘19-20 school year:
Elementary Students: Breakfast $2, Lunch $3
Secondary Students: Breakfast $2.25, Lunch $3.25
Adults: Breakfast $3.25, Lunch $4.75

Students who qualify for Free and Reduced lunches eat at school for free.  And application has to be turned in each year–Free and Reduced Price Meal Application including translations on the Nutrition Services webpage

Don’t forget to join us at the 1st General PTA meeting of the year on Thursday, September 13th, from 6:30 – 8:00. STEM’s Special Education PTA will meet from 6:00-6:30 before General PTA meetings.

We’re glad you’re a part of the STEM community! Thanks for working with us to create powerful learning experiences for your children!

Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal


Welcome Back to School!



Dear Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Families:

September is around the corner.  It’s time to launch another school year at Louisa Boren STEM K-8!  We are excited to see your children!   Staff are gathering to plan an amazing school year. The efforts of our remarkable community of staff, families, and students make STEM K-8 a special place.

Important Dates to Start the Year

  • August 28, 5:00-6:00: New Elementary Student Orientation
    • Since we welcomed Kindergartners with a Jump Start week and Family conferences, we no longer host a Kindergarten orientation. If you’re a new 1st-5th grade family and want to view the school and ask questions, join us on August 28, from 5:00-6:00.
  • August 29, 5:00-6:00: Middle School Orientation
    • This is aimed at rising 6th graders and new middle school students.
  • September 4: First day of school for 1st-8th grade students.
    • First day of school decompression coffee hour! 8:50-9:50 am meet with other parents to celebrate/decompress.
  • September 4, 5, and 6: Family Conferences with Kindergarten and Seattle Preschool Program families
  • September 6, 5:30-8:00 pm: 8th ANNUAL STEM BACK TO SCHOOL BASH! B2SB8 Lincoln Park NORTH END Shelter 5& picnic tables 60-84. Stay tuned to school/PTA Facebook page for updates Be there or be c!
  • September 9: First day of school for SPP and Kindergarten
    • First day of school decompression coffee hour! 8:50-9:50 am meet with other parents to celebrate/decompress.
  • September 12, 6:30-8:00 pm PTA meeting. Come to the first PTA meeting of the year to discuss plans and what’s happening!

Vital communication channels

  • Bookmark the STEM K-8 PTA website: School and PTA news overlaps here and the site contains a wealth of useful information.
  • Make sure your email address is accurate and updated in the school information system: Check the online the data verification forms you receive at the beginning of the school year. You will receive the PTA/School newsletter (Owl Post) weekly and other updates via School Messenger that use that email address.
  • Sign up for PTA & school TEXT alerts & updates: https://www.remind.com/join/stemk8
  • Follow my school blog at wordpress.com or @PrincipalOstrom on Twitter.  Both are also linked to the PTA website and PTA Facebook page and used intermittently to share important news, ideas, and developments.

Important information to start the year

  • Start and End Time: 8:50 am transition bell and 3:25 pm ending bell
    • The posted SPS start time of 8:55 marks the tardy bell.
    • Supervision and breakfast start at 8:35 am. Please do not bring your child to school before 8:35 am as there is no supervision.
  • Pick up/Drop off/Parking
    • For Morning Drop off and Dismissal: Students may be dropped off or picked up in the designated zone on the west end of the playground.   Parents may pull into the drop off/pick up zone and supervisors will direct children accordingly.  When in the pick up line please remain in your car.  We will bring your child to you.  Parents wanting to walk and pick up children may park in the visitor parking section of the parking lot, or the park and walk section designated “School Load and Unload only” along Delridge.  Students may not be dropped off on Delridge to walk to the playground.  To respect instructional time and traffic flow in a building serving more than 560 students, we ask parents to pick up and drop off outside (or in the office for late arrivals) rather than at classroom doors. If you need to talk with the teacher, you are welcome to come into the buildingHowever, on the first day of school students and parents may go directly to classrooms.
    • A crosswalk and flashing lights make it permissible to park on the west side of Delridge and walk your child to the playground/school. For safety reasons students may not be dropped off on either side of Delridge to walk to the playground. Parents must walk from those parking spots to drop off/pick up their children on the playground.  FYI—During school hours/flashing lights driving faster than the posted speed limit will incur a hefty camera-recorded ticket!
    • For safety reasons we are encouraging families to walk around the parking lot and use the exit crosswalk rather than cut across the parking lot for pick up.
  • Classroom Assignments
    • Due to changes in Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines, classroom assignments are no longer posted publicly. Classroom assignments will be shared by Friday, August 30.  We are exploring different ways to communicate assignments, including via the Source or School Messenger. On the first day of school staff will be available to share assignments and families may walk students to their classrooms.  Class lists are carefully constructed by teachers to support equity, a balance of skill levels and educational needs, student relationships, and classroom environment.  We are rarely able to make adjustments to class assignments. On the first day of school middle school students will report to the gym for Pathway class assignments.
  • SPS and STEM K-8 have a new district dress code
    • STEM K-8 discontinued its uniform policy. After the STEM equity team and middle school students raised important questions about its affect on students, time was invested in dialoguing about school uniforms and making a complex decision. You can read more about the background and issues on my school blog.  Students are welcome to wear former uniform attire; staff will not communicate or enforce uniform expectations.  Our school identity is based on exploring shared values, building rigorous STEM skills, and constructing Project Based Learning experiences. STEM K-8’s diverse community will continue to find ways to create shared identity, belonging, and school spirit without the conformity of uniforms.
    • The Seattle School Board adopted Policy No. 3224on July 10 creating a universal student dress policy for all students attending Seattle Public Schools. The policy is intended to provide a student dress policy that does not unfairly target female students for unnecessary violations and removes historical notions of what is “appropriate” to wear to school. The policy will focus attention on our responsibility to ensure that student attire, hairstyle, jewelry, and personal items do not interfere with the health or safety of any student, and do not contribute to a hostile or intimidating environment for any student. This student dress policy applies to all district students.
  • School Supplies
    • We will not be distributing a school supplies list. In lieu of an expensive list of supplies we ask K–5 students bring a backpack and a check made to STEM K-8 for $50 and middle school students a backpack and check for $90. The optional fee is per student, not per family, and multiple students can be paid for on a single check. The check can be delivered to the office or teachers the first week of school and payment can be spread out over multiple months if necessary. You are welcome to add more for a donation! Water bottles are optional. All students will receive the same supplies in each classroom regardless of ability to pay. Middle school fees help cover additional technology and science supplies used at the middle school level.
  • Back to School packets and Health information
    • Back to school packets will go home on September 4. Please fill out the necessary forms and return them as promptly as possible.  Pay particular attention to any health-related documents.  STEM K-8 is not a nut-free school, and will work with families to develop an individual health plan for students with significant health concerns.  Please call the office at 252-8450 if you are a new family to STEM and a have a child with a significant health concern.

Welcome to New and Returning Staff:

  • STEM K-8 welcomes new staff members, and some staff changed assignments.  We said goodbye to several staff members who transitioned to new places and jobs:  Krissy Soltman and Wendy Morgan are on year-long Travel leaves;  Alisha Krom, Amanda Burke, Daniel Castelli, and Drew Kincl left Seattle for other cities in search of affordable housing; Julie Schmick retired; and Christa Howsmon accepted a promotion to Administrative Secretary at John Stanford International School. Our ½ day Developmental Preschool program closed.
  • We continue to adjust around a rising bubble of students that created an extra classroom of middle schoolers for the second year and shrunk a 5th grade classroom. We restructured and increased staffing for Access and Resources programs, and added another Distinct program plus other new positions. We have assembled a staff of amazing educators committed to STEM learning!
Grade Teacher
Seattle Preschool Program Kristina Catt
K Abby Reid
K Mary Wasser
K Emily Alexander
1st Jessica Worotikan (formerly Brodland)
1st Heather Sorrentino
1st Amy Donnelly
2nd Hannah Lortz
2nd Kristin Colby
3rd Jodi Williamson
3rd Heidi Trudel
4th Adrienne Ollerenshaw
4th Sunny Graves
5th Matt McGavick
5th Marie Clevering
6th and 7th SS Travis DesAutels
6th and 7th ELA Allison Irvine
6th and 8th Science Deborah Giza
6th and 7th Math To be announced
7th ELA/SS Heidi Paulson
7th/8th Science Craig Parsley
7th/8th Math Ethan Bleeker
8th ELA/SS To be announced
Elementary MTSS/Intervention Anhsaly Grant
Middle School Math Intervention Carmen Gonzales
K-3rd Resource/Access Nicole Albertson
4th-5th Resource/Access Karen McKinley
6th and 8th Resource/Access Katie Griffith
7th Resource/Access Tyson Trudel
Distinct Monique Morgan-Uzzle
Distinct Daniel Perez
Distinct Shamsah Rahim
PFA Michael Holland
Computer Christina Massimino
PE Matthew Schiavo
PE Timothy Avery
Library Mary Bannister
ELL Lee-Chin Chua
Counselor Danielle Blechert
Custodial Engineer Tom Zech
Evening CE’s Steve Lowe, Tzarina DeLeon
Administrative Secretary Cindy Baca
Office Assistant Genevieve Saarenas
Office Assistant Jody Hapgood
Nurse M.C. Nachtigal
Assistant Principal Kim Noble
Principal Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 staff are excited about the new school year!  We are working hard to prepare for your children.  We will have much to share and celebrate in the weeks to come.  Thank you for joining us as partners to create a powerful learning community for your children.


Ben Ostrom

Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Principal

Louisa Boren STEM K-8’s Uniform Policy Decision

To STEM K-8 Families:

Uniform policies can provide benefits to students, families, and schools.  Uniforms were adopted at the opening of K-5 STEM because they aligned with the goals of a new school, and pointed towards a new shared identity and focus on STEM learning.  As Louisa Boren STEM K-8 has grown to include a continuum of programs and grades pre K-8th, the outcomes of our uniform policy became more complex. I encourage you to read the email below to understand the final decision regarding uniforms, the issues and discussion involved, and join us in the ongoing collaboration of community, staff, and students that makes Louisa Boren STEM K-8 great!

Summary and Decision

Questions were raised about STEM K-8’s uniform policy regarding equity, body image, identity, gender issues, race, culture, self-expression, and sensory needs. Furthermore, for many staff uniform enforcement negatively affected student relationships and efforts to create a welcoming environment. After student and family input, and a staff vote, STEM K-8 will not have a required uniform next year.  We will follow the standard SPS Dress Code.  Students are welcome to wear uniform attire; staff will not communicate or enforce uniform expectations.  Our school identity is based on exploring shared values, building rigorous STEM skills, and constructing Project Based Learning experiences. STEM K-8’s diverse community will continue to find ways to create shared identity, belonging, and school spirit without the conformity of uniforms.


STEM K-8 staff spent the last two months of the school year examining the school uniform policy. Students, staff and families were surveyed (results are displayed below).  STEM K-8’s uniform policy was discussed by the Building Leadership Team, at staff meetings, and PTA meetings. A summary of key issues:

  • Staff, students, and families raised concerns about uniform policy implications for youth wrestling with equity, body image, identity, gender, race, culture, self-expression, and sometimes sensory needs. Examples include:
    • communication with challenging students focused on uniform compliance rather than connection;
    • time spent addressing uniforms detracting from instruction or building relationships;
    • uniforms represent “uniformity” and dominant cultural values regarding “professional” or “acceptable;”
    • students with different body types finding STEM uniforms uncomfortable physically and emotionally;
    • girls feeling uniform enforcement represents gender bias;
    • uniform enforcement disproportionately affecting struggling students;
    • a wide variety of challenges lead to inconsistent enforcement;
    • the benefits associated with the STEM’s adoption of uniforms–supporting an academic learning environment, equity, shared identity, and safety—are less clear in middle school grades; and more.
  • The school board has been addressing broader dress code policy issues. A school board action report on 6/24/19 connected to the proposed new SPS Dress Code stated, “School dress codes have a long history in our society and are often over-reaching and biased against the female gender. With this policy, it was the hope to eliminate unnecessary notions regarding such things as clothing length and subjective views of appropriate school attire.”
  • STEM K-8’s uniform surveys asked multiple questions about our uniform policy. In the end the basic question was whether STEM K-8 should change our uniform policy.

STEM K-8  should continue to require uniforms.

  Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly


Grade 3-8 Students 13/202 or 6% 2/202 or 1% 18/202 or 9% 23/202 or 11% 146/202 or 72%
Families 112/293 or 38% 70/293 or 24% 28/293 or 10% 41/293 or 14% 42/293 or 14%
Staff 6/47 or 13% 9/47 or 19% 6/47 or 13% 16/47 or 34% 10/47 or  21%

As displayed in the table, clear divisions regarding uniforms emerged among survey respondents.  83% of 3rd-8th grade students oppose a uniform policy, with 72% strongly disagreeing with uniform requirements.  On the other hand, 62% of families support uniforms with 38% strongly agreeing. Amongst staff, 55% were opposed to a uniform policy, with 21% strongly disagreeing. Only 32% of staff supported a uniform policy.

For a uniform policy to be effective, a strong majority of staff and families need to support it.  At STEM K-8, most staff and students are opposed to uniforms, while a majority of families support them.  One reason for the discrepancy are negative outcomes staff and students experience from uniform enforcement, and the equity issues raised.  When those concerns were discussed during PTA meetings, families present understood more clearly the complexity of uniform issues.

Under the new SPS Dress Code scheduled for an adoption vote July 10, implementation guidelines exempt uniform policies adopted with feedback from students and families and a 2/3 staff vote.  During the final months of school, staff participated in multiple uniform discussions, input was solicited from families and students, and two PTA meetings discussed uniforms.  In the formal STEM K-8’s staff vote, 36% supported continuing uniforms, 48% were opposed, and 17% were neutral.  While a 2/3 majority is the baseline for staff approval, only slightly more than 1/3 of staff voted for uniforms.


Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal

How We Respond to Hate Speech



Dear STEM Families:

On the last day of school we had the horrifying and painful experience at STEM K-8 of one student writing as an awful joke “Kill all Jews” in another student’s yearbook. Although the hate speech was not targeted towards a particular student, such incidents attack all of us, and the community we are trying to build.

As I learned what happened, my initial responses were anger, feeling sick, and disappointment.  Then I turned towards the complex work of responding to incidents of hate.  What steps address the children involved?  Are there individuals that need immediate support? How do we build a community that challenges the larger social context in which bias and hate are so widely spread on the Internet that they appear “permissible” in humor and language?

I am working with the child who wrote hate speech and their family to support accountability for an inexcusable act and experience vital learning.  We will not let children be defined by their worst moments.  I’m working with staff and community to find powerful ways to teach adults and students strategies that address bias in our school and world.  Incidents of hate can foster division and righteous judgement, or fuel determination and commitments to inclusivity and anti-bias education.  I trust our STEM K-8 and West Seattle community to use an awful moment to foster dialogue over division.  Together we will ensure our children learn how to build community and demonstrate values of equity, sustainability, and the whole child.  Mistakes are how humans learn.

Benjamin Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal