We are so excited about the start of school! This fall welcomed over 2,000 new kindergartners into our district and will prepare nearly 1,600 12th graders for graduation in 2015. In total, over 26,000 K-12 students entered Lake Washington schools on September 2. Our teachers and staff are ready to prepare every student to be Future Ready!
As a school district, we are more than just a collection of elementary, middle, and high schools. We are an educational system, with learning as our core business. Our district mission and vision make student learning and achievement our top priority. On average, Lake Washington students score 16% higher in reading and 22% higher in math than their peers across the state on state accountability measures. We know that annual test scores are just one measure of student performance. We are working hard to ensure that every day, all students experience meaningful learning that helps them to learn, grow, and succeed.
Since learning is our district’s core business, we believe in investing in the ongoing learning of our professionals, so they can do their very best work in service of our students. This summer our staff has been hard at work preparing for the new school year. Office professionals, custodians, bus drivers, new teachers and returning teachers, building administrators, and district administrators all participated in in-service training and professional learning workshops. Go to our district Facebook page to see some great pictures of professional learning in action!
In addition to participating in extensive August learning sessions, all brand new teachers are assigned a consulting teacher who works alongside the new teacher to provide job-embedded mentoring, coaching, and support. This year we were also able to add some instructional coaches and literacy coaches to support the ongoing learning of our experienced teachers. By focusing on staff professional learning, we will be able to improve learning for our students.
In addition to student and professional learning, we focus on organizational learning. We are continually examining our systems, structures, practices, and policies to improve as an organization. Listening, open communication, engagement, and transparency with our parents and community is critical for our ability to learn and thrive as an organization. This year we are continuing to expand our communication and community engagement efforts. As a new practice, we are inviting parents to participate on curriculum committees. We have a number of curriculum adoptions on the horizon, including grades 6-8 science, 9-12 science, and 6-8 math. Go to our district website for more information.
We will also be convening a facility advisory committee this fall to help us learn the desires and priorities of the community with respect to building facilities. Our enrollment continues to grow, and we added 10 additional portables across the district this summer to house our growing student population. We need to develop a long-term plan for housing students, and we need to better understand what the community wants and is willing to support. To address growth in the short term, we will adjust attendance boundaries for the 2015-16 school year. This process will begin early this fall, and there will be many opportunities for parents to be engaged. Please look for more information on both the boundary process and the facility advisory committee coming soon!
I wish you and your family all the best for a wonderful start to the new school year!
Dr. Traci Pierce
Lake Washington School District