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School district emphasizes innovation, inspiration and kindness

  • Written by Madeline Coats

 

Northshore School District highlighted students and programs at its annual State of Our Schools address at Northshore Community Church on Jan. 5. Madeline Coats

The Northshore School District comprises four high schools, six middle schools, soon-to-be 21 elementary schools and a student population of 23,577 kids.

“Each student matters, right? Those are not just numbers,” Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid said. “We are not talking about data points; we are talking about children.”

Reid delivered her State of Our Schools address for Northshore School District Wednesday, Jan. 5. The event was hosted at Northshore Community Church in Kirkland and featured music performances from students of all ages, as well as food served by young chefs.

She highlighted innovation, inspiration and kindness in the 33 schools across the district. 

The school district currently covers 60 square miles. Reid said Northshore is one of the largest districts and encompasses Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore and areas of unincorporated King and Snohomish counties.

“We are a network of schools that form one fabulous district,” she said. 

Northshore focuses on a wide array of subjects, ranging from government to the arts. Reid said the district has more than doubled music participation at the secondary level. More students have been able to access music since financial barriers were eliminated, she added.

“I personally think that the arts are a critical part of core education,” she said. 

Career and Technical Education courses have grown from 2,400 to 3,300 throughout the district. Reid said the students have learned skills “that would not otherwise have an opportunity to be learned.”

Reid also mentioned potential solutions to the transportation fiasco with school start times. Through research, she said the district discovered an application called My Stop to update parents and students on bus times. 

Innovation, such as discovering the new app, was a popular topic during the address. She touched on the various ways students are engaging in critical thinking and problem solving, such as Science Olympiad and Future Problem Solvers.

The district is planning to open a new school, Innovation Lab High School, in the fall. The idea for the school was originally an answer to space issues, Reid said. This school will allow students to learn in a “more collaborative way” and deepen critical and design thinking, she added.

“We will have several evenings of conversations with parents and students, and essentially we’re going to be responsive to a changing world,” she said. 

Ruby Bridges Elementary, otherwise known as Elementary #21, will also open in the fall. Reid said the new school plans to serve about 500 students. The district aims to capture the dedication, passion and commitment of the 6-year-old civil rights activist.

People and moments of inspiration are consistent throughout Northshore. According to Reid, 89% of students who are English language learners graduated on time last year compared to 56% back in 2016.

“It’s such an honor to be part of a district that actually doesn’t just talk about equity and access, but they do something about it,” Reid said.

She talked about Verada Ellet, a sight-impaired runner on Inglemoor’s cross country team. Reid said the freshman would run with another coach, attached only by a short cord, to navigate difficult terrain on the course.

“Verada and family are extremely appreciative of the opportunity for all athletes to compete and be recognized despite their perceived disabilities,” said cross country coach Richard Bennett on behalf of the student.

The school district superintendent closed her presentation with an emphasis on the importance of spreading kindness in the community. At the start of the school year, Reid said she challenged every student and staff member in the district to do one kind thing every day. 

She did the math. Roughly 23,000 students and 3,000 staff members, multiplied by 157 days since the beginning of the school year, equals about 4 million actions of kindness. 

“That adds up. That creates a groundswell of energy that cannot be stopped,” she said. “Over 4 million acts of kindness, we are very proud of that. That set our tone for the year and I hope it continues to set our tone both locally and nationally.” 

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