Superintendent Message - November 2018

Formal portrait of Dr. Traci Pierce, from the shoulders up

As the new Lake Washington School District (LWSD) superintendent, one of the first questions I am asked when talking with people throughout our district is, “How do you like it here?” That’s an easy answer! What’s not to love about a school district that is shared between communities that are thriving, supported by people who care about children, in some of the most beautiful places on the planet? I love it when I am traveling around to schools and catch a glimpse of the mountains or get to drive by a lake to get where I’m going. Riding the ferry is a novelty and I am still hoping to see my first bear sighting! The great thing is I’ll never run out of things to do and places to see!

It’s also an easy answer because the people I meet along the way are excited about the future of our school district, and like me, want to be part of what’s next in the life of Lake Washington Schools. We have so many possibilities for developing new opportunities for our students – new partnerships, new ways to think about where, when and how our students learn, and new challenges that require creative solutions.

To leverage the strengths of our district, we’re also looking at how we engage with an ever-growing fan base. Social media and surveys are useful tools in addition to some new ways school districts are having conversations with community members about specific issues and ideas. We want to use the collective strength of our district and gather information in meaningful ways to help us chart a course for the future.

Our district also continues to face challenges like many districts across the nation – bus driver shortages, increased mental health needs and school safety issues -  just a few of the items on the list. Our ability to meet these challenges requires us to continue collaborating with our community partners on all counts. We need the best ideas and resources that our “public” in “public schools” has to offer for every child to be successful.

In the book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone, author Jamie Vollmer talks about the importance of communities that surround schools and the impact they have on the attitudes, values, traditions and beliefs of a school district.

Our district, #414, will continue to tackle many challenges and opportunities and must do so as a unified school district that supports every student. Our district number is what helps us remember what is most important:

4 – Four Learning Communities, all important, all working to adapt to growth and change.
1 – One School District – One Focus – helping students graduate ready for their future.
4 – For All Kids – All kids feeling important, included, recognized and connected.

I recently spoke with a parent who had just moved to LWSD from another state. They were amazed at our schools. They were blown away by how they were welcomed when they registered their children and visited schools for the first time. They were so impressed with what their experience has been so far with what their children are learning and doing at school.

We want every family to have that experience and to do that requires a single focus on moving forward to ensure all students in our district have great places to learn, great teachers in every classroom and great communities that support our families.  Four Learning Communities – One District – For All Kids.
Even though many things have changed with my transition to Washington, some things stay exactly the same – like the reason I do what do. I want students to choose their future before it chooses them. During this season of giving thanks, we need to remember and understand the important role of public education in preparing the students of today for the world of tomorrow. It’s the greatest work there is, and I am thankful I can be part of the best school district in the nation!