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!



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