Kent School District  | January 18, 2019
Dear KSD Community,

Greetings and Happy 2019! As we begin another year of learning and growing, I am reflecting on our collective and individual classroom experiences this past year.

While visiting our schools, I noticed how classrooms have changed over the years. Rather than encouraging uniformity and having students sit at desks in a row, we now understand each student is unique and may learn differently than others.

From lighting to seating, our educators intentionally engage with students at their individual comfort level. Teachers encourage collaborative group work, rather than always standing in front of the room and lecturing. I saw our students learning while sitting inside of tires and on top of bean bags. Is this surprising? Perhaps not if we understood the thought-process in placing students at the center of a flexible seating environment that encourages freedom and creativity.

Furniture and seating aside, can flexible classrooms boost student achievement? As cited in an Edutopia video , while flexible classrooms do raise test scores according to a study out of England, it is the learning and teaching habits which come from the flexible classrooms that make the difference. Superintendent Watts and our stellar Teaching and Learning staff members, led by Chief Learning Officer DeNelle West, continue to implement innovative models and support plans at all levels in our schools. Learn more about the Plan, Do, Study, Act quality improvement practice in Dr. Watts' letter in this newsletter.

As always, we encourage you to stay in touch and share your experiences with us. Our contact information is available on our website . We look forward to seeing you at our community conversations on January 24 and January 26!

On behalf of the Kent School District Board of Directors,

Maya Vengadasalam
President, Board of Directors
Kent School District
WSSDA Day on the Hill by Vice President Straus
Each year WSSDA, Washington State School Directors Association, holds a Day on the Hill. This is generally in January or February. It is very common and encouraged for board members to bring students with them to Olympia. In Kent, we have a strong history of doing just that.

Several of our board members have had the honor of traveling to Olympia with some of our leadership students. This trip is a great opportunity for the students to get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in our state capital as well as to have their voices heard. Our students do an outstanding job of representing our district and articulating their educational views.

Our students had the opportunity to meet with supreme court justices. They were given a behind the scenes look of the court room including how the Supreme Court works and the types of cases they address. They also learned about the process for becoming a supreme court justice.

During this same trip, we also met with legislators and senators from our district. In these meetings, the students spoke about what was important to them in regarding education. Students learned that their voices do matter.

One of the highlights of the day is the opportunity for eligible students to register to vote. Being involved in our democratic process is important for people of all ages. The truth is that if you talk to our senators and legislatures they will tell you that they are more likely to hear about chicken coop regulations than education concerns. As this new legislative session starts, we as a community need to make sure that education and education funding remain a high priority for Washington State. We look forward to the 2019 Day on the Hill!
Update from Legislative Representative Ross Hardy
As the Washington State regular legislative session gets underway this week, we still have a lot of work ahead for education in our state and improving our school district.
The new state funding model may be behind us, but both OSPI and the Governor's office have put forth budget proposals that help to bring districts' abilities to take more control in balancing their budget and fully funding all aspects of education.

Not sure who your legislative senators or representatives are? Use the Washington State District Finder which has an interactive map. We are looking to meet with all of those that represent some portion of our Kent School District during the Day on the Hill as well as to communicate with them throughout the whole session.

Ross Hardy
Legislative Representative, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Update from Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Plan Do Study Act
To kick off the new calendar year I have had the opportunity to see evidence of our instructional framework in action. The introduction of the framework was done at the August 25 Board Retreat, during the Teaching and Learning Community Update to the Board led by Chief Learning Officer, DeNelle West.

The Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle (Continuous Improvement Cycle) is a process designed to embed data-driven instructional moves, align formative assessments, and provide comprehensive support in developing the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to reach each and every student effectively. After introducing this framework to our board, our Teaching and Learning leadership team this fall led a range of KSD leaders though a training to engage, learn, and reflect on the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle utilizing school and district data.

Several schools are early adopters of the framework and working closely with teaching and learning to provide evidence and feedback on the model. In my recent classroom visits and Ridgewood and Scenic Hill Elementary Schools, I was very impressed with the instructional leadership of both principals as well their teacher leaders who showcased responsibility, accountability and ownership of their students' data as well as their ability to improve outcomes for each and every child. Specifically, at Ridgewood, I was able to observe effective use of literacy data, formative assessment, vocabulary instruction and student talk during my classroom visits. At Scenic Hill, Continuous quality improvement in action looked like the students and teachers being skillfully empowered to reflect upon their own learning and identity where and why they achieved or struggled. We look forward to continuing to partner with schools, working towards implementing the instructional framework district wide. 

Kind regards,
Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Getting to Know Your School Board Members
The past few weeks, Board members attended community events, visited classrooms, volunteered with the Kent Food Bank toy distribution, recruited members for the Fiscal Recovery Task Force, contacted legislators, attended PTSA events, and more. Our Board shared the following thoughts from this past month: 
Message from Karen :
Reading Chris Van Allsburg’s books to children sparks their thinking. At Springbrook Elementary’s December Read-In, Mrs. Boyd’s second graders actively listened and made suggestions as to what they thought might be happening. One girl suggested correctly on the first page of Bad Day at Riverbend what the first clue might mean; I’ve never had that happen before with this book. Others had ideas about what had happened on the very last page of The Sweetest Fig . I was very impressed with their thoughts and speculations. Great job of thinking, second graders!

Message from Debbie: One of my favorite classroom visits was to a special education classroom in Kentlake High School.  I had the opportunity to spend about four hours in the classroom observing and working with activities with some of the students.  I left the classroom feeling inspired by the students and the dedicated staff that cared for them. I am grateful that we have a district that believes in student success at all levels.
Message from Denise :
As 2018 came to an end, I spent some time reflecting on completing my first year serving as a Kent School Board Director. It was a year of growth as I engaged in the process of becoming a board member and joining a new team while navigating substantial concerns in our community and district. I have embraced the opportunity to learn and get to know more students, staff, and community members during the process, and have appreciated the support and encouragement shared with me. I am thankful that we have had many celebrations along the way as our students continue to grow and thrive! It was wonderful to see so many during the break at local celebrations in the community, and it’s always great to catch up with those returning home for the holidays!

I have never been one to make New Year resolutions but I do look for areas of opportunity to impact positive change each year. Each day I present myself with the same challenge: whichever space I enter, to leave it better than it was before I got there. At times, the evidence is immediate, but there are also times when I’m not as confident that I was successful. I recognize that we still have much work to do to ensure our students are prepared for their future of choice. I will continue to strive to do my best as a servant of our students and community, and I look forward to connecting with more of you and working together to make 2019 a year of impact and improvement. I hope to see you at our Community Conversations! Happy New Year!
Message from Maya: My experiences in secondary school as a first-generation immigrant student have shown me that the isolation experienced as a newcomer can be overwhelming, especially when family members are unable to navigate our complex education system. Encouragement from educators play a pivotal role in the success of many. I appreciate the many community-based organizations that work closely with KSD to help our families understand the critical steps needed to ensure the success of our students. If you meet students and their families who are new to this country, inquire about their past and their aspirations. Many have stories to tell and are eager to be heard and acknowledged.
Recent Board Meeting Highlights
Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs site. Regular meetings of the school board are held in the boardroom of the administration center located at 12033 SE 256th Street, Kent, at 7:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
  • Back from the holidays, board members celebrated School Board Recognition Month and immensely enjoyed hearing from our students, staff and community. Board members wish to thank everyone for the care and thought they gave us through letter-writing, calls, emails, and video presentations.
  • In addition to continuing our discussions on our communication plan, our work session focused on “stay” interviews and surveys. We thank the data analysis team and Human Resources in conducting the stay interviews and surveys. A full report can be found at our BoardDocs site.
  • We thank Director Melissa Laramie and the communications team for successfully launching our new website. As a parent recently pointed out, a great resource is our organizational chart that is highlighted within each one of our goals/department/community. We’re excited about the changes and welcome your thoughts. Thank you to the team also for spreading the word on our Fiscal Recovery Task Force and our community conversations to be held on January 24 and January 26. More information will be shared at our January 23 board meeting.
  • Director Randy Heath gave a presentation to provide a trend overview of exclusionary discipline for September 2018 through December 2018, as compared to the same time period for the past three years, explained transition to a new dashboard for the discipline report, and gave an update of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).
Upcoming School Board Events
You're Invited to Board Community Conversations in January
Students, families, and community members are invited to join members of our school board at libraries across our district to engage in meaningful two-way conversation.
January 23: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
January 23: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
January 24: Board Community Conversation 6:00 - 8:00 pm KM Library with Ross Hardy and Karen DeBruler
January 24: Board Community Conversation 6:00 - 8:00 pm KR Library with Maya Vengadasalam and Debbie Straus
January 26: Board Community Conversation 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Kent Public Library with Denise Daniels and Maya Vengadasalam
February 6: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
February 13: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
February 13: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs Site .