Tacoma Specialists
news & updates
February 2021 Vol. 27
View previous issues 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Red Alert!
...There is a very real and present danger that we could be further marginalized. There is NO ONE out there to fight on our behalf. IT HAS TO BE US.

This sounds like clickbait, but unfortunately, this is not a drill. This information was shared at the beginning of our two specialist meetings this month and gives some background on how the situation has developed over years. Since then, more disturbing facts and attitudes have come to light which are prompting us to action.
If you were at one of the meetings you've heard this. If not, please read the article so that we can work together to avert the worst outcomes.

There's a Lot Going On.
Students are returning to classes. Each school, grade level, and sometimes classroom is going about it in their own way.

There are many inconsistencies and contradictions in policies and interpretations of these policies. Though there is contact information for requesting clarification, you may receive different answers depending on who you ask. Many of us in more than one building are seeing a wide array of interpretations on a variety of topics.

As we navigate our ever-changing roles, plans are being made for next year's staffing. The budgeting process is underway, and many of the players are a bit fuzzy on who is responsible for what. Here's the district's explanation of the process:
In communicating with administration, we are concerned that no one considers it their responsibility to make proposals on our behalf.
According to Kristin Bell in the budget office, Christa Erolin will be writing the proposal. Christa added that,

"Since specialist staffing is enrollment driven the proposal narrative is focused on explaining the rationale for Music and PE education in general."

This, coupled with the fact that the district has stated that providing specialist instruction to all students for the remainder of this year is not possible, and that's okay, sets off several alarms.

Please engage Christa Erolin and Kristin Bell in conversation about our role in a comprehensive education, as well as what is needed for us to be effective educators.

Please engage principals, district administrators, union representatives, parents, and community members in an effort to ensure students have these opportunities going forward.

Visit tacomaspecialists.org for advocacy materials, who to address, and example letters to help organize your thoughts and promote a productive dialog.
Thanks to all who attended the Specialist Sessions
Topics of discussion included

  • Logistics of teaching hybrid sections
  • Schedules
  • Waivers
  • Overload Pay
  • One Job, One Educator
  • Formula for deployment
  • Deployment before contract signing
  • Equity issues for staff and students

Here is the Powerpoint file that guided the discussion.

If you have questions, comments, or other topics for discussion, please email them to

If you are being asked to work outside of your contract, please contact Shannon Ergun at TEA.
with questions and concerns about vaccinations and returning to the classroom
Information Needed!

As the plan for your building coalesces, let us know how/if your building is allowing for quality, equitable access to specialist instruction and what you need to be able to deliver quality, equitable instruction to your students.

Are you teaching all of the students? Synchronous? Asynchronous? One Class at a Time? All at home? All at School? Half and Half?
Be Sure to Submit Your Trimester 1 Overload Pay Request
  • Submit for pay once each trimester
  • Include any students in overload after Sept 29 for 1st trimester.
  • Link to form
  • It will be “Certificated Class Overage Stipend” on your paycheck.
Tech Tips for Specialists

Working from two screens can improve your lessons, minimizing the window shuffle and improving your interface with students.


This tip changed my life!:
Appoint a trusted student to be the doorkeeper for your Teams class. Make them a co-presenter and have them answer the doorbell. By doing this, I regained 5 minutes of lost teaching time and was able to give a student the opportunity to be responsible. WIN!
Matt Wood is awarded the Golden Apple!
Click the picture to see the PBS interview. Congratulations, Matt!

If you'd like to Celebrate a Specialist, send us a picture, video, article, drawing, song, limerick... whatever at

Submissions will go out in the newsletter and be posted on tacomaspecialists.org on our new page. Infect someone with positivity, or blow your own horn!