Horace Mann Elementary second graders got a hands-on toy-building lesson from “Mr. Toymaker,” Rick Hartman.
Superintendent Message - October 2019
As we enjoy the beautiful colors of fall, the school year is well underway and for many students, the reality of getting up and going to school every day is in full force. Each new day has its challenges – remembering everything that needs to go back the next day, maneuvering the challenges of morning traffic, preparing for class and practicing for activities and athletics.
When I am visiting schools, I try to take time to have conversations with students, and most of them have adjusted well to the school year. They’ve found new friends, figured out their schedules and can do their locker combinations in their sleep. When I ask about what gets them up and out the door in the morning they will talk about particular classes or their wonderful teachers, or some activity that is a favorite. Nearly all of them will tell me they look forward to seeing their friends.
I think adults would agree having friends is something that makes most anything more enjoyable. All human beings crave that sense of belonging – fitting in – being part of a group.
In our Lake Washington Strategic Plan – ELEVATE – one of the areas of specific focus is on well-being. We know one of the main things that helps a student succeed academically is a sense of belonging. We also know our families thrive when they feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to our classrooms, our schools and our communities.
What happens when people don’t feel like they belong? They begin to lose that sense of well-being and begin to disengage. Students will begin to miss school and will separate themselves from their peers. Their academic performance may suffer and most importantly, they will continue to experience those daily challenges without the support of others – something we all need every day.
Our school district and parent organizations have many awesome opportunities for students and families to find where they belong. To truly be successful, we need everyone working toward that goal in all our school communities.
So, here are my challenges for students and adults as we continue to grow as a district:
- When you attend a school or district event, introduce yourself to at least two people you don’t know and ask them about their story.
- Know your neighbors. Whether you live in a residential development or a high-rise, know the people who live in your community. As our communities grow larger, neighborhood connections are important.
- Ask your children about their friends and create opportunities to know them and their families. Make it a goal to get to know people who are not like you. This can be the hardest challenge and it means we have to reach out to others who may not look like us or speak the same language.
- When you know someone doesn’t feel like they belong, invite them to be part of your group. Sit by them at lunch. Talk to them in class. Invite them to something where they may make even more friends.
We want every student and every family to enjoy their experience in Lake Washington School District. As the days grow darker and colder on the outside it’s important to create days filled with warmth and light on the inside.
Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent