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September 14, 2016

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Outdoor learning patio made possible by Lowe’s Corporation grant

McKenny Elementary has a new outdoor learning patio for students, teachers and the school community this year thanks to a “Heroes in the Community” grant from the Lowe’s Corporation. Third-grade teacher Nancy Hooper wrote the winning proposal for the outdoor study area at the end of the 2016 school year because both she and her students enjoy nature and the outdoors.
Lowe’s provided the needed materials, and five of its employees from various departments gave up their day off to prep and clear the area and complete the installation.  Volunteers assembled and stained three picnic tables, constructed and filled three planter boxes with soil and flowers, and repurposed rocks into a mini riverbed.  Hooper was impressed by the amazing wealth of knowledge of each of the volunteers.  One of them, a Master Builder, crafted the planter boxes in his home woodshop with materials provided by Lowes. ”It is beautiful, and I know it will be a favorite outdoor work area all year long for our school,” Hooper said.
Hooper said McKenny is the “luckiest classroom in the whole entire world” to be able to receive this project grant, and that Lowe’s has helped her and her students “see their dream come true.”  Now, students can step just outside the classroom door to read, study and learn in the quiet with fresh air and tranquility, rain or shine.

Library and district partner to bring students greater resources

Timberland Regional Library (TRL) and the Olympia School District (OSD) have formed a partnership to bring students access to a wider range and depth of information via the library’s vast electronic services collection.
Both organizations met for several months last spring to determine the feasibility of offering TRL materials to K-12 OSD students. From those meetings, the concept of an online-only Timberland library card was born and named “MyTRL.”

The MyTRL program, which launches September 21, provides students in elementary, middle and high schools access to the public library’s large and updated collection of research resources, eBooks, digital magazines, downloadable music, videos, and kids and teen homework help. While the first partnership of its kind for TRL, it is patterned after other similar library/school district partnerships statewide.

“We appreciate our partnership with the Timberland Regional Library system,” said Olympia School District Superintendent Dick Cvitanich. “Students will be able to access information and do research through the use of extensive library databases that we could not possibly duplicate in our schools. This opens up so much more information for students as they complete projects and assignments.”

TRL Library Director Cheryl Heywood said, “This partnership is student-centered, focused 100 percent on bringing a deeper and more diverse range of educational resources into the hands of students. It’s a model that could serve students at school districts across the library’s five-county service area.”
MyTRL allows for students to view and checkout electronic library resources that are automatically returned, so no fines incur. Students can also upgrade their online-only library card to a regular library card with the parent’s permission and verification of the address and contact information.

Students who already have a regular TRL card may have it merged with their new MyTRL card at any TRL location. Parents may choose to opt out of the MyTRL program before it launches September 21 or anytime thereafter via the district’s Skyward Family Access portal or in person at their child’s school.

For more information, visit the Timberland Regional Library website. Additional details about the partnership is also available on the district's Instructional Technology Web page.

​​​​​​​Volunteer art docents needed

Volunteers are needed to serve as art docents in an expanded elementary school visual arts program this year.

This is the second year of the visual arts program, which started last year in 10 elementary classrooms and is being expanded this year to 30 classrooms throughout the district’s 11 elementary schools.

Art docents are trained to deliver an art lesson once or twice a month while assisted by staff members. Each art lesson is between an hour and 75 minutes long, and lesson-specific materials are delivered to the school ahead of the scheduled presentation.

The district offers convenient and flexible schedules for docents, who are trained by Visual Arts Coordinator Kirstin Holstrom, a third-grade teacher at Centennial Elementary School. If interested in volunteering, please contact Holstrom at kholstrom@osd.wednet.edu.

​​​​​​​​​​September is Attendance Awareness Month​​​​​​​

The state of Washington is joining a nationwide effort this month to call attention to the importance of regular school attendance.

September is Attendance Awareness Month in Washington, where one out of every six students was absent at least 18 days in the 2014-15 school year.

“School exists to train people to be successful in life,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of Public Instruction. “Employers want employees who show up every day, and they want employees who show up on time. Telling students that it’s OK to go to school sometimes but not others will only hurt them later in life.”

Dorn said that one of his chief priorities is to shine a light on chronic absenteeism. “For the past couple of years we’ve been able to look deeply into the data,” he said. “And that’s helping us see trends, which will help us solve the problem.”

Attendance Awareness Month began in 2013 by Attendance Works, a project of the national project of the Child and Family Policy Center.

Capital High School Math Teacher Carol McKay Named Capital Region 2017 Teacher of the Year

Capital High School Math Teacher Carol McKay has been named 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year by the Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113. 
McKay has been a teacher for 10 years, having spent the first part of her professional life in engineering and marketing positions.  McKay said she was ready for a change and, having been raised by two teachers, knew the impact they made on students’ lives.

During her tenure as a teacher, colleagues say McKay has worked tirelessly and successfully integrated her technical, problem-solving and communications skills into a successful career in the classroom. In a recent thank you note, a student wrote to McKay, “Thank you for being one of the best math teachers I ever had…your teaching style and constant support for all of your students are what make you great.”

McKay is one of nine candidates chosen by their respective regional ESDs and tribal schools as the 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year. A state selection committee will review and select one of the regional finalists as the Washington State Teacher of the Year. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will announce that winner on Monday, September 19, 2016 at an award ceremony in Seattle.

Capital High School Co-Principal Michelle Anderson nominated McKay for the award. “Carol exemplifies a teacher willing to try new things,” Anderson said. “When she does this, she does it with full energy, enthusiasm and the willingness to give 100 percent to that endeavor.”

McKay was flattered by the nomination, but unsure she had the time to complete the next steps in the process (the submission of six essays and four letters of recommendation).  McKay had recently taken on the role of Math Department Head, and the team had been busy implementing a new curriculum all year.

At the urging of ESD 113, McKay decided to move forward with the process with only two weeks until the deadline.  She began to compile and write the six essays required for consideration including among other things, an essay on a major public education issue and her ideas on causes, effects and resolutions.  In addition, nominees were asked to select a platform on which they could support and advocate for if selected Teacher of the Year. 

McKay’s unpaid internship at a chemistry quality control lab during her senior year in high school inspired her platform for the competition. She described that experience as making a huge impression on her and steering her toward a college major in chemistry.

She said all high school students should have a job shadow experience because it can help them select a path that best aligns with their skills, abilities and interests.  McKay added that she sees too many students head off to a four-year college because someone said they should — not because they have a defined plan. Internships and job shadows help students figure out what they want to do with their lives, she said, — or, perhaps, what they don’t want to do.

Providence St. Peter Youth Council exposes students to health care careers

Five high school students explored medical occupations ranging from nuclear medicine to nursing this summer as part of the Providence St. Peter Hospital Youth Council 2016.

Each year, the hospital accepts a dozen local high school rising juniors and seniors who spend 36 hours during the summer learning about health care careers.  The students then develop and deliver presentations on what they learned when they return to high school in fall.

This year’s participants include Capital High School’s Hope Beck and Olympia High Schools Simran Brar, Gloria Baek, Laura Martinez and  Anjali Vasisht. 

Acceptance to the program is competitive and requires solid grades and attendance, a letter of recommendation, a written statement and a formal interview. The Youth Council program exposes students to a wide variety of medical occupations through presentations, simulations and job shadowing in patient areas.  Students explore nuclear medicine, nursing, pharmacy, lab services, transfusion, pathology and more. Upon completion of the program, Providence awards a $500 scholarship to each participant. 

​​​​​​​During a visit with students in the program this August, Gloria Baek said she enjoyed visiting diagnostic imaging the most.  She also learned that “all of the floors in the hospital are very different and specialized, but also connected and working together.” Hope Beck said she initially considered becoming a neurosurgeon, but after visiting the nursing floors, she is “intrigued by the work they do.” She is now considering a career in nursing and is most interested in oncology, emergency or intensive care nursing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is  faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs, making healthcare a smart choice for future employment. According to program coordinator Kathleen Rubida, Providence is committed to exposing high school students to the multitude of health care careers and opportunities.  Students help get the word out when they return to their high schools and talk about their experiences with their peers.

The program concludes with a graduation ceremony on November 3.​​​​​​​