Superintendent's Message - September 24, 2018

jeverett Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:19am
jeverett's picture

It was a pleasure being at the Meridian – Nooksack Valley football game Friday night. I enjoyed watching the enthusiasm of our crowd, our students and our cheerleaders as our team made adjustments and turned the tide throughout the duration of an exciting game. I look forward to seeing all our athletes, clubs and performance groups as all our students work extremely hard to represent Meridian. Outstanding job!

As I continue the work of discovering the different faces of my new role and what will ultimately become my new normal, I want to share I am thoroughly enjoying visiting each building, interacting with staff, students, and parents. There is tremendous pride in all of our schools and staff - and how we serve and support students is paramount. We are dedicated to partnering with our community and working together. Meridian School District is an amazing place!  

As in many areas of the state, Meridian bargained at the beginning of the school year. We have completed the process with all groups and are now moving forward to the work at hand and that feels good. Our teachers, classified staff and other personnel are talented, devoted and committed to serving our students – regardless of our roles. What I believe about serving all students and supporting each other is incredibly important to understanding where we are going and why. It has to do with assurances we give each other about how we do our work together, model professional relationships, all of our messages to our students about what we believe they can accomplish, how we will support them and partner together with families for solutions. 

I am sharing the message I communicated with our district staff during our Welcome Back event on Tuesday, August 28, as well as what I shared during the Community Forum held at MHS in April. I do so to communicate my commitment to you – the Laurel Community – and to invite your continued and increased participation helping us grow and serve all of our children.

Our goals are to foster positive relationships, strengthen the student-centered culture and build on existing kindness, collaboration, and trust. We will continue to have these as important elements and develop a shared understanding of how we are to treat each other, our students, their families and the community as a whole. We are professional and respectful in our roles, putting the needs of our students at the center of our decisions. In terms of culture, the relationships adults forge with students and their colleagues is paramount. Roland Barth says, "The nature of relationships among the adults in a school has a greater influence on the character and quality of that school and on student accomplishment than anything else."

For me, it is about WE, US, and OUR – how we approach our work together. Simon Sinek, who challenged us to identify our WHY, now says we’re better together. ‘WE’ IS GREATER THAN ‘ME.’ The sum of us, together, is stronger than our individual capacity. It’s all of us… no matter our roles or titles or what building we work in. We are on the same team, seeking solutions to serve our students, families, and colleagues... WE | US | OUR. Our purpose is to SERVE each other, to RESPOND to each other, to COLLABORATE with each other, to COMMUNICATE with each other, and SUPPORT each other.

“Whose interests are being served in the current system?” is a question designed to be a safety valve so we don’t forget where students fall in our complex work. Ken Sirotnik, a professor at the University of Washington, used to ask this question of his master’s students to encourage their consideration of the far-reaching implications of decisions being made in a world for students where they often have little control. It is a question I’ve found helpful in my different roles over the years.

I have also submitted an entry plan for how I would approach my work of understanding the Meridian School District now, in my new role and three years removed from when I served as principal to Meridian High School. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or contributions. My entry plan can be accessed here. I welcome involvement and participation from the community. 

 

Thank You Laurel Community!
On a wet and dreary Saturday that was September 15th, several community members converged on Irene Reither Elementary School for what has been called Beautification Day. Organized by Cornwall Church and joined by members of Laurel Baptist Church, many staff, parents, and students joined the volunteers for a highly organized effort that ran from 9:00-3:00 pm. This was a monumental effort to clear, trim and clean garden beds of weeds, add color to the outside play area with the addition of a painted map of the United States, as well as Trojan Traits painted on the path between the two buildings. A giant “M” was painted on the water tower. Cutting back the overgrowth, removing underground bees’ nests, adding new mulch to the garden beds and providing new bark to the playground areas all contributed making IRE safer and more beautiful!

We have tried to ensure we acknowledge all the organizations who came together to make all of this possible – and to share how appreciative we are of the contributions. We apologize if we miss any of you. Thank you to S & W Rock Products of Lynden who volunteered the dump site, dump trailer and opened their facilities after hours to accommodate the project. Honcoop Gravel donated the dig out and haul away 20 yards of old preschool playground material as well as the dig out of the 20+ scotch broom plants with an excavator and dump trucks. Growsource gave reduced rates on bark and hog fuel (a wood residue and waste product that is processed through a chipper or mill and produces coarse chips and clumps.) Northhill Resources in Burlington did an exceptional effort in making sure they had the right playground bark for the project.

Everyone who participated in this project: Thank you for your service, generosity, and support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRE WATCH D.O.G.S. 
This coming Tuesday, September 25th, from 6:30-7:30 pm we will be having our second annual WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) Pizza "Kick-off event."  This is an opportunity where all fathers and father figures of IRE students come to enjoy "free" pizza with their child and learn more about the father involvement program. This is a fantastic program promoting support and involvement of our families. If you have a student at Irene Reither Elementary, we hope you are able to make this great event on Tuesday evening. 

WATCH D.O.G.S. is one of the nation’s largest and most respected school-based, family, and community engagement organizations in the country. In 1998, the very first WATCH D.O.G.S. program launched at Gene George Elementary in Springdale, AR. Today, more than 6,450 schools across the country have launched a WATCH D.O.G.S. program of their own. Each school year hundreds of thousands of fathers and father-figures make a positive impact on millions of children by volunteering millions of hours in their local schools through this amazing, one-of-a-kind program. For more information, click here.

 

Attendance Awareness Month
September is Attendance Awareness Month! We are emphasizing great attendance in our newsletters and with all of our students. It's incredibly important for our students to be present and active in learning - and that starts with great attendance! It's about lost instruction, not whether an absence is excused or not. Students can't learn if they aren't in school. Students who average missing more than 2 days of school a month are at a distinct disadvantage to achieving grade-level progression. Please take a few minutes to visit Attendance Works - an informative website developed to address issues around attendance and provide practical support for students and families.

 

Bulletins & Newsletters
Please take the few moments to read the messages going home each day and weekly from our buildings. There is important information about upcoming events and activities we need all our families to know about. Thank you!

 

STUFF THE BUS Campaign
Each year Meridian School District does a phenomenal job collecting food and non-perishables for our community through the STUFF THE BUS program. This year our campaign will run in early October. We will be sharing more information as we get closer through our Facebook presence, Meridian School District #505, as well as each building’s bulletins, newsletters, and other communication channels.