1-21-20 Owl Post Update

MLK day reminds me every year that for some of us the struggle against racism is a conscious choice, and for others it is a daily reality. Recommitting each day to education as force for equity reenergizes our love and investment in community.  As I face hundreds of decisions each day, I often use whether a particular action moves us closer to educational justice as a barometer.  We are working hard and yet have a long ways to go to provide instruction and services that equitably serves the needs of students who receive Special Education or ELL services, and African American students at STEM K-8.  As participants in Monday’s annual MLK march may have experienced; it’s a journey from which we can and must draw on the strengths and spirit of a diverse community.

The snow day from 1/15 will be made up on the day between semesters, Wednesday, 1/29.  In the end one Wednesday early release day was exchanged for another.

Hopefully most of you who attended last week’s Winter PBL Open House got a taste of the PBL experiences our students are experiencing across grade levels. Extended inquiry and revision, student choice, engagement, and tangible outcomes are important components of PBL that were visible at different development stages. Projects ranged from Kindergarteners analyzing habitats needed by stuffies, first graders exploring how to be friends, second graders examining what affects erosion, and third graders looking at the functions of wetlands to  fourth graders exploring the diverse roles of salmon, fifth graders examining roles in colonial Boston, sixth graders analyzing elements of and building Ancient Sumerian cities, seventh and eighth graders designing businesses and operating markets, seventh graders testing Newton’s Laws of Physics through skate board design, crashes and data analysis, and eighth graders construction of WA state tectonic models.  Thanks STEM Staff, PTA, and families for supporting Project Based Learning!

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2020! As we launch a new decade (incredible to believe) I celebrate the source of STEM K-8’s vitality: positive partnerships with families and community.  When staff and families work together on shared goals, amazing things are possible for students.  STEM K-8 has a powerful vision and some of Seattle’s hardest working teachers.  Let’s continue to grow together!

Seattle Schools’ Health Education Office and local Seattle photographer Nate Gowdy are joining forces to create a beautiful photo exhibit and “coffee table book” highlighting our amazing LGBTQ+ students and their families in Seattle Public Schools.  The purpose of the “Our Students, Their Stories” Project is to showcase the strength, resilience, and unapologetic pride of our amazing LGBTQ+ young people. The photo book and exhibit will be used as educational tools for staff training, classroom education, community engagement, parent education, and to celebrate our students’ individual journeys today and will also act as a touchstone for future generations.  STEM families and students interested in participating in this exciting project should contact Lisa Love at 252-0982 or llove@seattleschools.org

 Families are at the final deadline for compliance with Washington State Immunization laws RCW 28.210.  Students with incomplete or out-of-compliance immunization documentation face exclusion from school beginning on Wednesday January 8, 2020.  If your child is not in compliance you will have received multiple notices.  The goal is to safe and healthy school learning environments with 95% immunization rates at all 104 Seattle Public Schools sites.  It important for SPS to have updated immunization information for multiple reasons:

  • Rapid and efficient responses to an outbreak of a serious communicable disease such as measles requires accurate and current data.
  • Minimizing lost instruction time in the event of a measles outbreak (which can result in up to 30 days out of school time).
  • Safe schools.

For more information go to https://www.seattleschools.org/departments/health_services/immunizations  To access school-based health center see https://www.seattle.gov/education/about-us/about-the-levy/health/school-based-health-centers.

Don’t forget to put STEM K-8’s Winter PBL Exhibition on your calendar.  It’s Thursday, January 16 from 6:00-7:30 pm.  Come and see a wide variety of PBL projects at various stages of development across all of our grade levels!

12-15-19 STEM K-8 Principal Update

The close of the year is always busy at STEM K-8!  Last weekend we hosted the first ever STEM K-8 Robotics Tournament.  Extra thanks to coach Matt McGavick, expert assistant Julie Schmick, and the many parent volunteers who made it possible.  Forty teams (including 24 STEM students) from 4th-8th grade competed from 9-5 on Saturday.  5th graders Reese and Oliver won the Elementary Excellence award and 8th graders Jackson and Sam won a judges award.

But it wasn’t just our Robotics team that’s been busy.  STEM’s Amelia Earhart club has also been working with Coach Stacy Harbour to design, build, and test electric powered aircraft.  They competed in the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Flight Challenge at the Museum of Flight the weekend of the 7.  STEM’s persistent aviation engineers hard work paid off, with all five aircraft they brought achieving successful flight, and STEM teams taking home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the middle school division.

On Wednesday you can hear STEM K-8’s choir and 5th-8th grade band students perform for their winter holiday concert at 6:00 pm in the school cafeteria.  Plus don’t forget the is a one hour early dismissal for Winter break on Friday at 2:25 pm.

Winter break is pretty much your last chance to catch up with immunization requirements if you  received a notification that your child’s records are not complete.  Under new WA State guidelines, on January 8 students not compliant with immunization requirements will be excluded from school.  Please make a plan for your child to get any necessary vaccination updates and provide the school nurse with your updated records as soon as possible. For religious, personal, or medical exemptions, you must turn in a Certificate of Exemption form signed by you and a health care provider. For more information, click on student_vaccination_requirements or contact school nurse M.C. Nachtigal at 206-252-8457 or mcnachtigal@seattleschools.org.

12-9-19 STEM Update plus Holiday Policy

At STEM K-8 we are in high gear, with teachers and classrooms working on overdrive to pack learning in before winter break.  Last week classrooms visited the Mercer Slough, Zoo, and Children’s Theatre.  Next week we have students headed to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Microsoft, and Bainbridge Island.  Girl’s basketball tryouts were last week, and boy’s tryouts are Tuesday, December 10.  Make sure athletic registrations and updated physicals are turned into Ms. Noble or the office.  Middle school girls will practice on Monday and Thursday afternoons, boys on Tuesdays and Fridays. Practices are from 3:40-5:00.  STEM’s Amelia’s Aerospace and Robotic’s teams had their first competitions last week.

Thanks to volunteers and attendees for our first Multicultural Literacy night last Thursday, December 4. There were storytellers and stories in a variety of languages, and Ms. Paulson’s middle school poets were compelling, passionate, and articulate in their readings.

Don’t overlook an immunization notification if you received on.   Under new WA State guidelines, on January 8 students not compliant with immunization requirements will be excluded from school.  The main culprit for missing vaccinations is the Tdap, required for 6th grade entry. Some children (like my daughter!) who had chicken pox or varicella as a child need to have it noted on their immunization record.   Make a plan for your child to get any necessary vaccination updates and provide the school nurse with your updated records as soon as possible. Your child must be fully vaccinated, in process of getting vaccinated, or have a lab report recording immunity.  If you choose not to have your child vaccinated due to a religious, personal or medical reason, you must turn in a Certificate of Exemption form that is signed by you and a health care provider. For more information, click on student_vaccination_requirements or contact school nurse M.C. Nachtigal at 206-252-8457 or mcnachtigal@seattleschools.org.

]I’ve also included the STEM Holiday Policy in this week’s Owl Post. It’s meant to serve as a guide for staff and families as they consider how holiday activities are incorporated into the life of our school.  Critically thinking about teaching and celebrating holidays helps us more effectively meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population.  The goal of the STEM Holiday Policy is to support inclusivity and validate students’ home cultures.

STEM K-8 Holiday Policy

Why we teach and think critically about holidays at STEM K-8

  • To make all children feel accepted and to validate the cultures and experiences of their homes
  • To teach about time and cycles of life
  • To teach diversity and tolerance by learning about other cultures, traditions and religions
  • To teach the virtues associated with particular holidays- peace, friendship, love, etc.
  • To create a sense of family or community within classrooms and within our school
  • To have fun

Guidelines for Holiday Activities and Celebrations at STEM K-8

  • To promote the academic environment of the school and decrease disruptions and emphasis on sweets, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 has instituted a “treat-free” practice for birthdays. If you would like to send something to school with your child to commemorate their birthday, please donate your child’s favorite book to the classroom in lieu of food items.
  • In a similar vein, STEM K-8 is “Treat free” for Halloween, Valentines Day, or other celebrations that may occur.
  • We are inclusive and strive to validate all of our students.  We pay attention to the balance and the importance we put on particular cultures.
  • In addition to not over-focusing on particular cultures, we do not over-focus on a particular holiday within one culture.  In this way, we are not defining an entire culture or faith through one holiday.
  • We are careful to avoid stereotypes when presenting holiday information, putting up decorations and implementing activities.
  • We do not teach the religious aspect of only one holiday.  We can explain religious aspects of multiple holidays in a matter-of-fact simple manner.
  • We involve families as much as possible and as is age-appropriate in the implementation of holiday activities.  We will keep families informed of upcoming holiday activities and events. For students whose home culture prohibits a particular celebration or recognition, we will find alternative activities that promote their inclusion in the classroom.
  • There are no hard and fast rules about the time that should be spent because the amount of time will vary according to the age, interests and needs of the children.
  • As we decide on holidays to teach about, we think about our students and teachers reflect on holidays that have importance to them as individuals.  For example, if a teacher has a passion for American history, her class can only benefit from experiencing that passion around Patriots Day. Teachers may also want to consider including holidays that are important to our larger community and city. Teachers are encouraged to discuss with their grade-level partner the list of holidays they are considering.

 The policy above is meant to serve as a guide for staff and families as they consider how holiday activities are incorporated into the life of our school. It is our hope that by critically thinking about teaching and celebrating holidays we will more effectively meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population regarding cultural holiday practices that have so much meaning for children.

This policy was developed through reviewing other school policies throughout the country and in conjunction with careful thought about the needs of the STEM K-8 community (staff, students, families).

Some of the language and format was borrowed from a K-8 school in Boston, which reflected some work from the book Celebrate! An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays by Julie Bisson.

This is an evolving document open to feedback and suggestions from the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 community.

 

 

 

12-2-19 Owl Post Principal Newsletter

I hope you all found some time with the long week to relax and also have some experiences that brought you gratitude.  There are many experiences for which I am grateful at STEM:  Our work in education is creative and meaningful. Educators at STEM K-8 to serve their community and also to build a more equitable, sustainable future that embraces teaching as creative activism.  STEM students and families are partners in learning providing support, inspiration, purpose, and challenges.

Everyone is invited to join us in a multicultural literacy night in the library, gym, and cafeteria on Thursday, December 4th from 6:00-8:00. There will be a performance by the Native Youth Theatre group Red Eagle Soaring and many other activities.  There will be story times by the Delridge Children’s Librarian, Slam Poetry from Ms. Paulson’ students, a book swap, story times in Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese, snacks, a bookmark station, and more. Stick your head in and see what’s happening.

Please pay attention to WA State’s updated vaccination law.   On January 8, students who are not compliant with immunization requirements will be excluded from school. We want your child to be in school on January 8.  The main immunization missing for students is the Tdap, required for 6th grade entry.  It must be given after age 11.  If it is given earlier, it must be repeated after age 11 to count for school attendance.  Tdap shots can be taken care of at any pharmacy.  Call your insurance first to make sure of coverage, and bring your 5th-8th graders who haven’t yet had their age-11 Tdap in for the shot!  If you are missing other immunizations, you have been contacted.  Make a plan for your child to get vaccinated and provide the school nurse with your updated records as soon as possible. Your child must be fully vaccinated, in process of getting vaccinated, or have a lab report that shows your child is immune to the disease and does not need to be vaccinated. If you choose not to have your child vaccinated due to a religious, personal or medical reason, you must turn in a Certificate of Exemption form that is signed by you and a health care provider. For more information, click on student_vaccination_requirements or contact your school nurse M.C. Nachtigal, 206-252-8457, mcnachtigal@seattleschools.org.

 

 

Holiday Thoughts

Halloween approaches!  This is a good opportunity to review the STEM K-8 Holiday Policy.  I’ve attached the whole policy at the end of the Owl Post. To promote an academic environment and decrease disruptions and the emphasis on sweets, STEM K-8 aims to be treat-free with regards to processed sugar treats for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, or other celebrations. Healthy snacks are fine.

STEM K-8 and SPS strive to be inclusive of all our students.  Preparing for Halloween or other festivities, we are becoming more aware of the importance of being mindful of religious, cultural, and ethnic differences. Celebrations provide opportunities to think about cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes about People of Color. When these inaccurate stereotypes are perpetuated, they create offensive, hostile, and uncomfortable conditions for our diverse families.  While appreciation of food, cultural experiences, and language are acceptable, appropriating clothing that is not representative of an individual’s self-identity is often times inaccurate.  SPS is working to become a more inclusive environment in which our diverse students are seen, respected, and valued as individuals, the resources below provide opportunities to learn more about this topic:

Also, without a uniform policy our costume policy reverts to the SPS dress code.  Which means that actually a student could wear a costume any day of the year so long as it  does not violate the SPS dress policy, e.g. cover the face, contains threats, promote illegal or violent conduct, include toy weapons, show private parts, present a health or safety hazard, and/or contribute to a hostile or intimidating school environment.  It’s always helpful to remind children that they are members of a pre K-8 school community and to be aware of how younger children may respond to their appearance and behavior.

\The STEM K-8 PTA Direct Give Campaign is still accepting donations!  The Direct Give provides planning and additional training for staff. Direct Give funds support Project Based Learning and also help acquire books, technology, tools, construction materials, scientific instruments, and software.  Your contributions support exceptional learning experiences for STEM students, and donations are tax deductible. Gifts of any amount are appreciated!

 

 

Playworks Update

Last week we worked with Melissa Luke to study, plan, and begin implementing Playworks practices on STEM’s playground during K-5 lunch recesses.  Over time many of the same practices will spread to afternoon recesses as well.  Our playground efforts are just beginning, and it will take sustained efforts and planning to build on a great start.

Our work with Playworks aims to build a child-centered recess culture where everyone is included, and leaves the playground happy, recharged, and ready to learn.  We are creating new opportunities for student engagement and leadership as well as facilitating a variety of activities/games that develop social and emotional skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem solving.  Children are free to choose and engage in play that is respectful, safe, and inclusive, including imaginative and creative play of their own making.  5th grade safety patrol members are taking on the role of Jr. Coaches during K-5 lunch recesses to build leadership skills and support playground activities.  Our partnership with Playworks provided a week of intensive support to plan and implement new elementary playground practices.  For more information, visit playworks.org.

The STEM K-8 PTA Direct Give Campaign continues!  The Direct Give provides books, technology, tools, construction materials, scientific instruments, software, and supports Project Based Learning.  Planning time for staff and additional training are also supported by Direct Give funds. Your contributions support exceptional learning experiences for STEM students!  Donations are tax deductible! Gifts of any amount are appreciated!