We’re back!

How great was it for staff and families to have our halls filled with scholars again! We are living a famous W. H. Murray quote (inspired by a loose translation of Goethe):
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

And so the school year has begun! An inspired lurch forward, our K-8 journey carried on ripples awashing unknown shores.


Welcome back!

Dear Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Families:

Hello and welcome back to a new year Louisa Boren STEM K-8! We are meeting, planning, and working overtime to lay the foundation for an amazing school year. STEM K-8 has special community of staff and families that come together to create a unique school experience

Our journey towards K-8 is not without some growing pains. The additional coordination involved in adding staff, developing new plans, and obtaining a plethora of instructional resources has me behind on communication. There are many exciting things happening! A few ways to keep in the loop:

  1. Bookmark the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and STEM K-8 PTA websites (they overlap and contain a wealth of useful information).
  2. Make sure your email address is accurate and updated in the school information system (check and fill out 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.
  3. Bookmark my school blog at principalostrom.wordpress.com and follow @PrincipalOstrom on Twitter. Both are linked to the school and PTA website and combined school/PTA Facebook page (at Louisa Boren STEM K-8), and share news, ideas, and developments as they happen.

Some key information regarding the new year:

A. STEM K-8 Start and End Time:

9:25am and 3:40pm (they remain unchanged).

B. Pick up/Drop off/Parking:

Supervision is provided starting at 9:10 a.m. Please do not bring your child to school before 9:10 am as there is no supervision.

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 drop off line please remain in your car. We will bring your child to you. Parents wanting to walk and pick up their 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 in a building serving more than 800 students, after the first day of school we ask that parents pick up and drop off outside (or in the office for late arrivals) rather than at classroom doors. On the first day of school students and parent may go directly to classrooms.

There is now a crosswalk and flashing lights that 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 on the playground. FYI—During school hours/flashing lights driving faster than the posted speed limit will incur a hefty camera-recorded ticket.

C. Classroom Assignments:

Due to changes in FERPA regulations, classroom assignments are no longer posted publicly. Classroom assignments were shared on 9-4 from 4:00-6:00 on Friday during the day. We are looking at a mechanism to email assignments to families on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Either way, on the first day of school there will be staff and volunteers available to share assignments and families may walk students to new classrooms.

D. A few Upcoming Events:

September 3: First day of school decompression coffee hour! 

9:25-10:30am meet with other parents and school principal Ben Ostrom to celebrate/decompress.


September 11, 5:30-8:00 pm: 4th ANNUAL STEM BACK TO SCHOOL BASH! Lincoln Park NORTH END Shelter 5 & picnic tables 60-84 . Stay tuned to https://www.facebook.com/K5STEMPTA?fref=nf for updates Be there or be c


September 17, 6:30-8: PTA meeting. Come to the first PTA meeting of the year to discuss STEM K-8’s developing mission, science and PTA enrichment, and more!

September 24: Curriculum Night and Open House

E. Arbor Heights Co-location continues for one more year!

We have another year to collaborate with Arbor Heights’ staff and families. The colocation of both schools in the Boren building for two years continues to create a number of benefits and opportunities for both schools! I am enthused to continue working with Principal Collins and the Arbor Heights staff and community to create a positive learning environment and experiences for our children.

F. Uniform Expectations:

STEM K-8 is a uniform school (yes, for middle schoolers too)! Uniforms were adopted to build community, decrease inequalities and distractions, support safety, and many other reasons. Visit the STEM PTA website for full details on uniform expectations and guidelines. A uniform closet exists to support families requesting financial assistance to meet uniform guidelines, and also address short term needs.

G. Welcome to New and Returning Staff:

STEM K-8 welcomes several new staff members, and some staff changed assignments and last names. K-8 expansion and class size reduction money alone meant adding three new staff. We were fortunate to add some outstanding educators to support our students and further our vision. Names in italics are new to STEM K-8. Make sure to search them out and introduce yourselves.

Position Names
Kindergarten Whitney Mebane (formerly Cook), Alicia Ciocca (formerly Hardman)
1st Lisa Sweeney, Jessica Broadland
2nd Jodi Williamson, Soheyla Nur, Joseph Roicki
3rd Sunny Graves, Kristen Colby, John Castilleja
3/4 Kent Daniels
4th Deborah Giza, Mo Newton
5th Ro Gluck, Lauren Martin
6th Craig Parsely, Travis DesAutels
Specialists Gretchen Gray, (PE), Julie Schmick (Technology), Marie Nelson (Performing Arts), Mary Bannister (Library)
Special Education Katie Griffith (Resource), Shamsah Rahim (SM4). Clara Hanson (SM4), Mary McDaniel (SM4)
Instructional Assistants Ronald Adams, Hayward Coleman, Greg Wolf, Craig Rankin, Caroline Ong, Jasmine Johnson
ELL Lee-Chin Chua,teacher; Maria Asuncion, ELL IA
Counselor Renee Davis (.5 Counselor)
Office Cindy Baca, Patti Bunting
Assistant Principal Kim Noble (.5 AP)
Principal Ben Ostrom
Custodial Engineer Tom Zech
Lunchroom Manager Lynn Ferguson

Hopefully we will be starting school on September 9. Pay attention to media on the evening of September 8 and have back up plans in case there is a strike by Seattle Education Association members. Teachers and classified staff are our most vital employees, and hopefully a labor stoppage will be avoided and/or resolved quickly. If there is a strike, school will not be open.

Many good things are happening! STEM K-8 Staff gathered August 31 to work on year-long planning with the Next Generation Science Standards. On Sept. 1, 2, and 3 staff participated in SPS training, and also worked at STEM preparing to roll out Singapore math again, school priorities, planning, and room set up.  We will have much to share and celebrate in the weeks ahead. Thank you for joining me and STEM K-8 Staff to create a powerful learning community filled with scholars who are aspiring, creating, and expecting.



Benjamin Ostrom

Louisa Boren STEM K-8 Principal

Some exciting developments for STEM 3rd and 4th Graders

I have exciting news to share with the STEM K-8 Community.

STEM K-8 was provided a golden opportunity by Seattle Public Schools. An additional classroom teacher was assigned to STEM to reduce class size in the third and fourth grades.  There is a challenge though—no additional classroom spaces to house an additional homeroom. STEM K-8 staff viewed this dilemma as a powerful opportunity to create a unique program to serve third and some fourth graders.

First STEM K-8 will create an additional 3rd/4th grade multiage class taught by Kent Daniels.  He has years of successful experience teaching with this model. He prefers multiage classes because of the many advantages they offer: strong fit with project based learning; each year some students enter the room knowing routines and expectations that are modeled for newcomers, which shortens startup time; it provides opportunities for leadership and mentoring, and the chance to build on strong family connections.

There will also be two straight third grade classrooms and two straight fourth grade classrooms. But here’s the great news: one class size reduction teacher will join the two third grades and the 3/4 multi-age class. The extra teacher and multi-age class will reduce teacher/student ratios in third and fourth grade from 28 to 21 or 22 students/teacher. This position will afford maximum flexibility across a variety of instructional groupings. Combined with an extremely large classroom (a former Home Economics room), we are forming an innovative teaching team to better serve students and implement STEM and PBL practices. Mo Newton and Deborah Giza will teach straight 4th grade classrooms. Sunny Graves, John Casatilleja and the newly hired Kristen Colby (yes—that Kristen Colby!) will round out the third grade team.

Over the next days and weeks our team will be actively planning and developing their program, but we wanted you to get a quick glimpse of what a typical day might look like. The attached schedule is subject to change, but the concept of flexible grouping to meet the greatest range of student needs will remain a guiding concept.

I am excited about this opportunity. We have a great team to bring these plans to fruition. They are full of energy and ideas. You will be hearing about some of the big ones shortly. I hope you share my excitement, but should you have concerns, please let us know and we will be happy to address them.

Sample STEM K-8 Third and Third/Fourth Multiage daily schedule

9:30-9:35 Attendance in Homerooms

Students and teachers meet in homeroom to take attendance and turn in homework.

9:35-10:00 All-student Community meeting

Entire 3rd and 3rd/4th grade meets to build community, discuss current issues, build and uphold social expectations, plan and share PBL, share books, and publishing celebrations, etc.

10:00-11:00 Math Block

Students are divided to join rotating math groups taught by four teachers.

11:00-11:30 PCP

(Physical Education, Technology, Performing Arts)

11:30-12:30 Science or Literacy Homeroom

Students will reconvene with homeroom peers to work on the Next-Gen Science Studies or on Balanced Literacy projects involving writing skills and reading strategies. The fourth teacher in the team will pull students from each of the homerooms to work on skills and activities appropriate for the selected group. These might be enrichment or support to meet special interests or learning needs of various subgroups of students.

12:30-1:05 Lunch/Recess
1:05-2:15 Literacy Homeroom Cont.

Students will reconvene with homeroom peers to work on balanced literacy strategies, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, etc. The fourth teacher on our team will continue to pull students from each of the homerooms to work on skills and activities appropriate for the selected group. These might be enrichment or support or work attuned to special needs or interests subgroups of students.

2:15-2:30 Afternoon Recess
2:30-3:30 Open Concept PBL/Science Block

Students will work on different aspects of a project with one of the four teachers.

3:30-3:40 Clean Up/Pack UP

(Students will head back to their homerooms to pack up and close the day.)