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February 22, 2019

2/6/2019 1:06:00 PM
State of the La Conner Schools

By Whitney Meissner
Over the past few weeks, a variety of community leaders and guests have visited our schools. Almost universally their comments focus on how warm and welcoming the schools feel. Our staff members often describe La Conner Schools as a family, a community, and we are so delighted that our guests picked up on the caring environment the staff works so hard to nurture each and every day. From social-emotional curriculum, lessons on caring, and opportunities to discuss challenging issues, to having a new “Braves Space” in the high school staffed by district and tribal counselors, we are working hard to ensure that our students feel comfortable and comforted at school.
In addition, the school staff has engaged with transportation and Braves’ Club staff to align our “Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports” (PBIS). The philosophy behind this program is that by clarifying, teaching, and re-teaching expectations, unexpected student behaviors will decline. We are trying to ensure that we are using consistent language in schools, on busses and in our after-school program. Staff reports things are progressing well!
Teachers have been working hard to bring more hands-on and experiential learning opportunities to our students as well. Just recently, the 6th grade visited Mt. Baker for “Snow School”. The 5th grade toured Skagit Valley College and listened to the Skagit Symphony. In all schools, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities are introducing kids to everything from Power Point to Virtual Reality. Seniors recently presented their portfolios to panels of staff and community members; several panelists have shared that the quality improves each year and how impressed they are with the Class of 2019.
New this year in the elementary is support for students with dyslexia. We are offering instruction through the Barton System. Research shows that the vast majority of students who are qualified for special education struggle with dyslexia; the teachers are reporting a tremendous positive result from this work.
We are very grateful for our community. Our PTSA, Booster Club, and Braves Council provide amazing support for our students and their activities. The Parent Advisory and Native American Parent Advisory groups are vibrant and inspiring. We are continuing to explore literacy, positive relationships and compassionate understanding, particularly for historical trauma in native communities. Sharing time, space and meals is creating more space for mutual understanding. If you would like to participate in any of these groups, please contact the district office for more information.
We express sincere gratitude to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. They recently hosted an Education Dinner to celebrate the successes of tribal students from the first half of the school year. The event was standing room only and the food was delicious! The district and tribe engage in formal consultation several times a year, and we gather informally quite frequently to strengthen our relationships and enhance the learning experience for our youth. We are so grateful for the support in teaching Lushootseed and native carving in our schools. Their generosity and kindness cannot be overstated. Many thanks!
As we move into the second half of the year, we will continue to work on closing our achievement gap, on personalizing learning and support for all students and on moving closer to that goal of 100 percent graduation. With support from many organizations, including the Washington State Leadership Academy, Association of Washington School Principals, and Abeo, we are moving closer to our vision of success – academic, social, emotional, and behavioral – for ALL kids.
In closing, January is School Board Appreciation Month. We are very blessed to have five dedicated board members who serve selflessly to benefit the students and staff of our school district. Thank you Janie Beasley, Lynette Cram, Brad Smith, Kate Szurek and John Thulen! We are so grateful to each of you.
Whitney Meissner started as La Conner school district superintendent July 1, 2017.

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