First day of school = butterflies, excitement and enthusiasm

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Kindergartener Evan Gaylord can’t wait for his first day at “big boy” school. Courtesy photo.
It’s not only kids that get butterflies in their stomach in anticipation of the first day of school.

Their parents do, too. And then let’s not forget about the teachers and administrators.

“I always have them,” says Heather Miller, principal of Timbercrest Jr. High, “and I’m going on my 28th year in education. I never sleep the night before school starts.” She adds, “The first day is the most important day of the year because it sets the tone, the expectations and the energy for the year. If it goes well, then the kids want to return.”

Miller loves seeing the kids and she thrives on their excitement as they reconnect with old friends and begin the process of forming new relationships.

She is looking forward to getting to know the incoming seventh graders and welcoming them to the junior high experience.

“My goal is to make them feel comfortable here and to help give them tools to be successful as students and citizens,” she adds.

Over at Leota Jr. High, Principal Obadiah Dunham notes that the first day of school never gets old.

He says, “It’s like the first Friday night football game of the year. You get the opportunity to see the fruition of all the off-season work and game planning.”

Dunham enjoys the energy and excitement that staff and students bring to the new school year and comments that everyone approaches a new year with renewed enthusiasm for learning. He also looks forward to meeting and getting to know the new students and families who will become part of the Leota learning community.

“It’s fun for me to see how much all of the students have grown up over the summer and hear their summer stories, as well as their hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year,” remarks Dunham. “I guess the beginning of the school year is akin to seeing the new flowers and plants in the spring.”

Although Heather Hiatt, WHS assistant principal, has been a teacher for 14 years and an administrator for two, she is always nervous to meet the students and get back into the routine of the school day.

“I’m sure that I will be extra nervous this year since it will be my first day at Woodinville and in the Northshore district,” she notes. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of the students and becoming part of the Woodinville High School community.

“I have heard that the Falcon football games are incredible demonstrations of school and community spirit, so I’m excited to wear my new gear and help cheer on our football team this fall season.”

For Hiatt, the best part of the first day of school is that it never ceases to remind her why she loves her job.

She adds, “I get inspired by the energy from the staff and students as we begin a new year together. For me, the first day represents a time to make new goals, have new experiences and form new relationships. I’m always excited to get this process started after a restful summer break.”

At Sunrise Elementary where Barbara Cordray has been managing the office for the past eight years, the first day is always very busy. “There’s so much going on, but it’s all very exciting for everyone,” she remarks. “Kids are coming back, parents are stopping in and of course, there are the new kindergarteners. It’s especially fun to see the little ones come through the door. Some of them are very ready to be here and it’s the parents that have a hard time letting go. Other times, it’s the opposite.” Bothell High’s office secretary, Debbie Ludlan, is a fourteen-year veteran at the school and even after all these years, she still doesn’t sleep the night before the first day of school. “I’m all pumped up with excitement,” she explains. “I can’t wait to see the kids.” She adds, “I’m looking forward to getting to know the new students, as well as the new staff. We have a lot of new teachers this year.”

Ludlan can’t picture herself being anywhere but at BHS. She is proud to be a part of such a wonderful school and views it as a unique community. She says, “It’s such a close knit group here. I think of it as my second family.”

Bear Creek Elementary Principal Gary Keeler likes the mix of new, fresh faces with familiar that greet him on the first day. “The smiles never fail to make me excited,” he comments, “and it reminds me how important this work is and how much I value all that we do at this school.”

Keeler is looking forward to helping the sixth graders maximize their opportunities to be leaders. He notes that it is their turn to leave their stamp on the school. He also can’t wait to reconnect with the parent group.

“We have such amazing support from our parents at Bear Creek,” he says. “This community is wonderful and so welcoming.”

One of Keeler’s teachers, Carla Squires, views the first day as a fresh start for everyone, both students and teachers. “There’s a beauty in this,” she explains. “Everyone gets this opportunity for change and a new beginning. The slate is wiped clean.”

Back-to-school dreams are common for Squires in the weeks leading up to the first day.

“The other night I dreamed I didn’t have the key to my new classroom,” says the longtime educator with a laugh.

Squires is teaching fourth grade for the first time this year after spending the past two-plus decades in K-3.

Her daughter, Sarah, will be a senior at WHS this fall and although she’s looking forward to seeing her fellow classmates again and sharing summer experiences, she’s not quite ready to give up her vacation.

“Getting up early will be difficult,” she admits.

Other seniors, like Melissa and Nicole Joseph, have mixed feelings about the start of school. “It’s weird to realize that this is our last first day of high school,” comments Melissa.

She adds, “It’s going to be a fun year, though, and I’m going to make the most of it.” As a cheerleader, Melissa is particularly looking forward to Falcon football games. She’s also excited about some of her classes.

The teen hopes to attend WSU and study education, as she aspires to be a teacher.

Her twin sister Nicole is doing a nursing program at Woodinville and will be involved in the school’s Link crew, as well as serve as vice president of the Honor Society.

“It’s going to be a great year, but it’s bittersweet, too,” she says.

The twins’ mother, Lisa Joseph, concurs with her daughters’ sentiments, adding, “I had one set of twins already go through this so I know what to expect and it really is an exciting year. But, it’s a bit sad for me because these are my last two kids and when they graduate, that’s it.”

Megan Legg, on the other hand, has a few years to go when it comes to her kids’ schooling. “I have three children,” she notes, “and each one is at a different school. Grace is a junior at Woodinville, Dominic is a seventh grader at Timbercrest and my youngest, Libby, will be starting second grade at East Ridge.”

These past few weeks, Legg has been running around trying to get everyone ready for the first day, which means buying school supplies and new clothes.

She looks forward to hearing all about her children’s teachers and who’s in their classes this year.

Libby, 7, admits to being slightly nervous about the start of school as she doesn’t yet know who her teacher is and if she’ll have any friends in her classroom. She can’t wait, however, to play on the playground.

Her sister Grace comments that the first day is always stressful because you have to find all your classes and get used to different teachers, but she is excited to connect with all the friends she hasn’t seen during the summer.

For Aidan Cowles, a ninth grader at Timbercrest, the first day marks his last year in junior high.

“It’ll be fun to be the big kid on campus and to be the leaders of the school, but I’m not looking forward to the loss of free time and all the homework,” he remarks.

Jack Unruh, 11, can relate to being a “big kid.” He’ll be a sixth grader at Frank Love, which marks his final year of elementary school. Although nervous about a new teacher and having a lot more homework to do, he is psyched about his new role as safety patrol captain.

“Only sixth graders can be captains,” he notes.

For Evan Gaylord, the first day of school is a monumental occasion for both him and his mother.

The five-year-old is just starting his education and is thrilled to be entering kindergarten at Hollywood Hill Elementary.

“He’s not nervous at all,” comments his mom, Allison Gaylord.

“He’s a very social child and he’s going to really thrive at ‘big boy’ school. I think I’ll be the one with butterflies and I know I’ll be the one shedding a few tears on the first day.”

Even Larry Francois, Northshore’s superintendent, hardly sleeps the night before the first day of school.

He’s starting his 12th year as an administrator and he notes that the start of school is still a combination of excitement, anticipation and anxiety.

“The school year has its own ‘bio-rhythm,’ so to speak,” he comments, “and I really enjoy that. I can’t imagine working in a field where every day and any time of the year is more or less the same.

“I find the ups and downs, starts and stops, periods of intense energy and exhaustion invigorating. As I do every year, I’ll start the first day helping out at one of our schools.

“There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement and anticipation on the part of kids, parents and staff as the new year begins. Even high schoolers are by and large excited on the first day, regardless of what they may say to the contrary!”

Francois looks forward to continuing the good work that he sees taking place across the district to help more kids achieve at higher levels.

He adds, “It may sound trite, but we’re doing great work with the curriculum renewal and a common instructional focus that I really believe is paying dividends now and will continue to do so into the future.”

How to Prepare Your Student to Go Back to School

  • Written by Grassroots Newswire

If your child could use a little help getting back into the school swing of things, there are a number of simple things you can do to make the transition easier. “Take steps these final few weeks of summer to help your student prepare mentally and otherwise for a new school year,” advises Erica Hwang of the Bothell Huntington Learning Center.

Hwang offers these tips to ready children for the first day and week of school:

Call up friends. If your child hasn’t seen classmates from last year all summer, now is a great time to arrange a few activities with school friends. If you know students who will be in your child’s class, encourage your child to reach out to them, too.

Make a school visit. Stop by the school at least once to let your child walk around and check out his or her new classroom, if possible. If your child has an opportunity to meet staff members and his or her new teacher (at back-to-school night or in another way), take advantage.

Go over the routine. If your summer routine has been relaxed, now is the time to remind your child how a typical school day will go. If needed, start enforcing a reasonable bedtime a few weeks before school starts. Hang a family schedule and/or calendar in a visible place.

Get the home organized. Keep hooks near the entry door to your home where your child can keep the backpack, jacket and other school gear. Have him or her organize his or her desk or homework area. Take your child shopping to restock school and organizational supplies for the home and the classroom. Don’t forget to buy a new planner for him or her to use to stay on top of all obligations and assignments.

Do some refresher work. The final few weeks of summer, incorporate a little school work into your child’s daily schedule, using workbooks or worksheets from last year to brush up on math, reading and other basics. To practice writing, have your child keep a daily journal on the things he or she did this summer. As you bump up bedtime, include reading in the nightly routine — letting your child choose books from the library.

Sit down to talk about goals. Goal setting can be a powerful tool. Talk with your child about the things that he or she would like to accomplish or change this school year—academic or otherwise. If your child had any difficulties last year, let him or her know that you are there to help and want to maintain open communication about school.

When it comes to preparing for back to school, a little can go a long way. “Back to school preparation is largely about getting in the right mindset,” says Hwang. “Help your child prepare by talking positively about this coming school year and the good things to come. Remind your child of the best parts of school, and also let him or her know that you’re always there to help problem solve when issues arise.”

For more information about Huntington Learning Center: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Using Your Intuition to Keep Your Child’s Love for Learning Alive

  • Written by Submitted By Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh, Executive Director, Brock’s Academy

Children love to learn. In fact, you can’t stop them from learning; it’s inherent in their very being. They bounce through their first handful of years tasting, smelling, touching and listening to everything they possibly can; they are authentically in love with learning.

The key for parents is to acknowledge this inherent love for learning and make sure they select the right people, places and circumstances to continually support their children as they venture out into the world. The good news is we haven’t been left to our own devices. We’ve been given a tool to help keep our children’s love for learning alive and well: intuition!

Throughout my career, I’ve spent hours coaching parents about the power of intuition when raising and educating our children. My message is always the same, “the most important thing you can do for your child is to trust and follow your intuition.” It doesn’t matter how much formal education you have, how much research shows you should be doing this or that, or how many experts with PhDs are telling you what you need to do or not do.  At the end of the day, no one knows what’s best for your child better than you. If you follow your intuition, your child will be in the right place getting exactly what they need 100 percent of the time.

As I was raising my sons, Brock and Gabe, this intuition was my preemptive comfort. It made me aware and cautious of potential hazards,   told me to take numerous head counts while at the park, and allowed me to look in on them just one more time before going to bed at night. Once my children were in school, it let me know which teacher could provide the best possible learning environment, which adults truly had my children’s best interests at heart, and in no uncertain terms, if something was going on in my child’s education that was tampering with their love for learning instead of honoring it.

I trusted my intuition, even when it meant I had to buck the system with its scary rules and intimidating people. I trusted it even when I didn’t have any facts, logic or wordy rationales to back it up.

Once, it actually spoke to me and told me to pick up a phone and call home just in time to find out that one of my boys had been in a terrible bike accident.

It wasn’t a literal voice (although I have talked with parents that have had this experience) but more of a knowing feeling that something wasn’t right. In this case, it prompted me to ask the clerk in the store if I could use her phone (this was way before cell phones).

I experience my intuition as a feeling — a sort of hunch or “hum” telling me that something is up or not quite right.

We may call it different things, and each of us may experience it a bit differently, but the common thread is this: It’s an internal mechanism we have and it’s quite powerful. My experience, plus the testimony of multitudes of parents I have worked with over the years, has been that when we trust these feelings, our children end up with the best possible educational solution, and we find their joy for learning alive and well. Conversely, when we don’t pay attention to it, we leave our children at risk for losing their inherent abilities and love for learning.

So, listen to and trust your intuition about your child and their education. No one knows the best learning environment, curriculum, teacher or school for your student better than you. If you are tempted to waiver, giving in to self-doubt, please contact me. I will remind you in short to trust yourself, to listen to and follow your feelings and provide you will a long list of other intuition-following parents you can call on for support. (425) 483-1353

Three must-have conversations about online child safety

  • Written by ARA

15944466_web(ARA) - Academic performance expectations, attendance at school functions and balancing extra-curricular activities with time for homework — parents and children have a lot to talk about at the beginning of the school year. Few conversations, however, will be as important  or as fraught with tension as discussing how children should and should not behave online.

While many kids look forward to reuniting with school friends from last year, they’ll be meeting new people, too. Many of those interactions will take place, in part, in the digital world bringing online child safety front-of-mind for parents as back-to-school season arrives. To help protect your child while he or she is online, start the school year with three important conversations:

How to behave when connecting online

The anonymity of the Internet makes meeting strangers seem appealing and safe. But kids should use at least the same level of caution when meeting someone new online as they would in the real world.

Explain to kids why they should never initiate or accept online contact from someone they haven’t first met in person. Given all the information we tend to give away in our online profiles, it’s like walking up to a stranger on the street and inviting him or her into your home.

Employ tools like SafetyWeb to help keep kids safe online. The tool helps parents monitor online activity and includes an active blog/forum that allows parents and pros to discuss the latest child-rearing challenges of the digital age. Review the privacy settings on your child’s social media accounts so that your son or daughter understands what’s visible to friends and what is visible to everyone else (preferably, nothing). Create the social media accounts with your child so that you know what sites she uses and who her online friends are.

Establish designated times when children are allowed online for social media use and times when they can use the Internet for schoolwork. Never allow children to use the Internet behind closed doors. Yes, they’ll probably say everyone else does it and that you’re ruining their lives, but keeping Internet-enabled devices in a common area can help make it easier for you to protect your child.

How to behave when interacting online

As a parent, you have two concerns for your child’s online life: first, that he or she experiences no harm from online interactions. Second, that he or she causes no harm to others.

The digital world makes communication fast and easy, yet its drawbacks are many: it’s highly conducive to impulsive behavior, it’s difficult to accurately convey tone and intention, and it’s nearly impossible to erase something once it’s posted online. Children need to understand the limitations of this form of communication and that missteps online can have a long-term impact in the real world.

The anonymity of the Internet has made it easier for people to be mean to each other and given rise to a whole new type of bullying: cyberbullying. A study by found that 58 percent of fourth- through eighth-graders have had mean or hurtful things said to them online, and (even more disturbingly) 53 percent admitted to having said something mean or hurtful to another person online.

Help your child understand the type of behavior that constitutes cyberbullying so that she can both avoid cyberbullies and avoid engaging in acts of cyberbullying. In addition to monitoring your child’s online behavior, encourage him to have a robust social life in the real world — the environment in which we really learn how to behave with others.

How to behave when interacting in person

While you’re teaching about appropriate online behavior, it’s important to reinforce lessons about being a good person in face-to-face interactions. Bullying has been around as long as people have; teach children how to recognize instances of in-person bullying and help them learn techniques for coping with bullies.

Being a good citizen of the digital world starts with being a good person in the real world. Reinforce with kids the importance of good behavior both online and in person, and most importantly — lead by example.

Creating super summer snacks with grapes is a breeze

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - Early summer marks the beginning of the California grape season. These bite-size treats are the perfect snack —  crisp, sweet and only 90 calories per 3/4 cup serving. Grapes are also very juicy, making them a welcome source of hydration as outdoor activities and temperatures increase.

Always ripe and ready-to-eat, convenient (no peeling, no seeds), and packable for a picnic or day camp, grapes are really today’s super snack. And there’s more good news: Grapes of all colors are a delicious source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, and research suggests that grapes support heart health and may help defend against a variety of age-related and other diseases.

Selecting grapes is a breeze, since all grapes are fully ripe when they arrive at the supermarket.  Simply look for plump grapes with pliable green stems. Once home, keep your grapes unwashed and refrigerated in a plastic bag until ready to use, then rinse with cold water and serve.

While fresh grapes are most often enjoyed as a snack, more and more people have discovered the versatility of grapes as an ingredient. Why? Fresh grapes from California add color, crunch and a light touch of sweetness to snacks and meals. Toss them into yogurt or nearly any kind of salad: fruit, green, grain, chicken or tuna. Create grape and cheese skewers for an easy appetizer. For a cool summer treat, freeze your grapes: just rinse them, pat them dry and place them in the freezer for two hours. The result is like sweet bursts of sorbet.

Here are a couple more tasty snacks for kids and adults. These wholesome and easy-breezy treats show off grapes’ natural pairing potential with all things dairy.


Grape, Honey and Yogurt Pops

Makes eight standard size frozen treats.


1 pound red or black seedless California grapes, rinsed and stemmed

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 container (16 ounces) vanilla or honey Greek yogurt or a combination


Puree the grapes in a food processor or blender (you’ll have about 2 cups). Transfer to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Boil the grapes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the sugar and honey and let cool to room temperature.

Fold in the yogurt just until nicely swirled, then spoon into frozen treat molds. Cover with foil, insert sticks and freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until set.

Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 127; protein 4.2 g; carbohydrate 27 g; fat 1 g;  7 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 2 mg; sodium 16 mg; fiber .5 g.


Grape Snack Bites

Makes eight snack bites.

2 full graham crackers (to yield 8 small rectangles)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lowfat cream cheese

8 seedless California grapes, sliced


Break each graham cracker into its four small rectangles. Spread 1 teaspoon cream cheese on each cracker and top with sliced grapes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per snack: calories 28; protein .7 g; carbohydrate 4 g; fat 1 g; 35 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 3 mg; sodium 40 mg; fiber .1 g.

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