Dec. 19, 2019
In this issue:
 Levy dollars focus: Nurses help students stay in school
Learn about proposed school levy measures
Nearly 200 volunteers speak at TES career fair
Citizens Housing Committee examines enrollment data
Zero hour music offers fun, skill building at LWES
District kudos: THS students win VFW contest
Spotlight on THS: Medal of Honor recipient
News briefs
Coming up in Bear Country

Levy dollars focus: Nurses help students stay in school
Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series of stories called “Levy Dollars Focus,” about programs supported by local levy dollars. Prior pieces: Behavioral Intervention Specialists ; Extracurriculars are vital to students ; RAP boosts student readers . To read more about the two proposed levies on the February ballot, click here .
Washington state education dollars pay for one nursing position for all of Tahoma’s nine school buildings. The district pays for eight additional nursing positions using levy funds provided by the Educational Programs and Operations Levy approved by voters in April of 2018.

Parents of students with chronic health conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes, severe food allergies and seizure disorders often tell district nurses that if they simply wouldn’t send their child to school if there were no nurse available.

“Students learn best when they’re healthy and safe and feel like they’re a part of their school. School nurses help keep students in school so they can be educated, and they provide them with emergency care while they’re there,” said Jennifer Lyons, Tahoma’s Nursing Coordinator. “Things like diabetes, asthma and life-threatening allergies exist in our world today, and can impede our students from having access to an education.”

The existing EP&O levy will expire at the end of 2020; in February, the ballot will include a replacement levy that would begin collection in 2021. For details, click here.

In addition to the obvious tasks such as applying Band-aids, icing an injury and checking for fevers, school nurses also:
  • Help diabetic students manage their blood sugar levels to avoid dangerous conditions and loss of consciousness.
  • Administer medications for students who have medical authorizations on file.
  • Help develop and execute plans to keep students with medical devices such as PICC lines, feeding tubes, ports and other medical devices safe while at school. 
  • Help develop and execute plans for students with broken bones and other injuries to stay safe while at school.
  • Assess symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, rashes and more.
  • Listen to students in crisis, and connect them with counselors and other resources as needed. This includes mental health issues, family or other relationship concerns, helping students who are feeling physical symptoms due to anxiety, stress, bullying, and other situations.
  • Help students with an array of needs such as hygiene, hunger, and social emotional needs.
  • Treat and monitor students with chronic health conditions such as asthma and seizure disorders.
  • Conduct annual vision and hearing screenings, with the support of volunteers.
  • Assess and treat staff in emergency situations.
  • Keep EpiPens available for students with severe allergies, and assess whether they are needed in potential exposure situations.
  • Go on field trips, or, in the case of Camp Casey, prepare information and plans for students who will be accompanied by a school nurse from another school in the district.

At Cedar River Elementary, there are several students with conditions that would be dangerous or extremely difficult to manage safely without a nurse in the building. One family told nurse Chelsi Allard that if she wasn’t there on a daily basis, they would have had to homeschool their child. Earlier this year, a student broke a bone at school and Allard helped him before he was transported to the doctor. In a later conversation, the student’s parent let Allard know that the doctors said if she hadn’t stabilized the break the way she did, the child would have needed surgery.

Allard said it’s a team effort at Cedar River, and that the front office staff, paraeducators and teachers all help her take care of students. Registrar Anna Pabisz, who occasionally helps students who aren’t feeling well when Allard is away from the health room, said that Allard is “a gem.”

Glacier Park parent Camery Turley said her son, Crew, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just before he was supposed to begin a new year of preschool at Lake Wilderness Elementary. Turley said their initial instinct was that public school would be out of the question. But because preschool was a few hours long and there was a nurse available in the building, they decided to try it. 

“It went really well for us,” Turley said. “When we transitioned to Glacier Park for full-day school … and we found out there was a new nurse, we were panicking.”

But then they met Glacier Park’s nurse, Jessi Lish, and she immediately jumped in to learn how Crew’s blood sugar monitoring technology worked, and other details about his care.

“From day 1, I could not have hoped for more support and skill and empathy for our situation,” Turley said. “She is so on top of it. … She is 100 percent vital to his success in public school.”

Kelly McKee, who has a son with Type 1 Diabetes as well as a son who has a serious allergy, said that their family moved to the area shortly before her son, Gavin, was diagnosed with diabetes. When they discovered that Tahoma had a nurse in each building, and that Issaquah School District (their other top choice) did not, they felt fortunate.

Now in sixth grade, Gavin was able to attend Camp Casey with his classmates last year thanks to nurses who attended and kept him safe during activities and while he slept, McKee added.

“If there was not a full-time nurse there, our lives would probably look a lot different, and one of us would probably have had to work from home to be available to administer his medicine,” she said.

The number of daily student visits to the nurse at each building range from about 50 to 70 at the elementary level, from about 40 to 60 at the middle schools and just over 30 per day at the high school.

Nurses at each building work in concert with the building counselors, mental health and wellness coordinators at the middle schools, and Behavioral Intervention Specialists.

At Maple View Middle School, nurse Angie Davis estimates that as many as half of the students she sees have anxiety, stress or other mental health challenges that lead to physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches.

From the outside, it’s easy to underestimate the level of need and the variety of situations school nurses handle, Davis said. “I volunteered a lot when my kids were at Lake Wilderness. Truly before I took this job, I don’t think I had a clue of the workload and the scope. … It’s a lot more than just a Band-Aid or an ice pack.”

Special Services Director Annette Whittlesey, who oversees the nursing staff, said they are key to keeping students safe and supporting their health needs, but also to proactive and preventative efforts such as tracking immunizations and writing plans for individual students.

“Our nurses are part of the team that looks at the whole child and makes sure we’re talking about all their needs,” Whittlesey said. “It’s an integral part of the wraparound support for our students and families.” 

Tahoma’s nurses could make more money by working in the healthcare field outside the school system, but they enjoy their work because they want to help students and families, and they also enjoy being a part of the school community.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be a school nurse until I was one,” said Lyons, who said she loves the connections she has made and the relationships she has built while helping students and staff members. “People like to speak about nurses as being kind and helpful -- and they are -- but really what they are is critical to maintaining the health of students so that they have access to education.”
Cedar River Elementary nurse Chelsi Allard talks with a group of students who have Type 1 Diabetes. Each day, the students check in with Allard when they arrive at school, to report their blood sugar numbers; and also at lunchtime and before leaving at the end of the day. If their blood sugar goes too high or too low at any other time during the day, they also go to the nurse's room for help.
Learn about proposed school levy measures
Three Engage Tahoma community information sessions will be held in January to talk about the Tahoma levy measures on the Feb. 11 election ballot.

The first two meetings are scheduled for Jan. 9 in the Board Room at Central Services Center, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road SE. The first session begins at 10 a.m. and the evening session begins at 6:30 p.m. The third meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 in the Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center.

The 90-minute information sessions will include presentations by school district staff about the levies, with time for questions from those who attend.

Tahoma is seeking approval of a replacement Educational Programs and Operations levy and a Technology levy.

The informational website with details about the two measures is now available here. For future reference, it is also available via a tab/main menu item at the top of the district website.

The district will also send a four-page levy mailer to every household in the district in mid-January. If you have questions about the proposed levy measures, please contact us at 425-413-3409 or via email at
Nearly 200 volunteers speak at TES career fair
Editor’s note: Each month of the school year, Tahoma asks its teachers and students to place special emphasis on one of the nine Future Ready Skills. In the district newsletter, we feature examples of how those skills are being taught in classrooms. This month’s featured skill is Creative Innovator .
Chris Nason of Nason's Creations talks with a group of students about his business during the recent Tahoma Elementary career fair as one student tries driving a screw by hand. Nearly 200 parents and community volunteers participated, sharing with students about their occupations.

The library at Tahoma Elementary School was filled with budding entrepreneurs, pilots, designers and firefighters earlier this month as nearly 200 parents, grandparents and community volunteers shared with students about their jobs. Getting a glimpse into a wide variety of occupations was part of the school’s first Career Fair, organized by Future Ready Specialist teachers Thomas Eccles and Kristina Boyd.

The idea is a good example of the Creative Innovator Future Ready Skill that many Tahoma students and staff display year-round, Principal Jerry Gaston said. Earlier this fall, Boyd and Eccles shared their idea for a career fair with Gaston and then began planning how it would come together. 

“What was initially planned as a one-day event quickly grew to a week-long event with (many) parents involved in sharing their careers with our TES students. In the lunchroom, at recess and in classrooms schoolwide I am hearing conversations between students about ‘what I am going to be when I grow up’ that has a new, special and more substantial meaning than ever before,” Gaston said. “There has perhaps never been a situation at our school that more accurately illustrates the concepts of ‘Future Ready’ coming to life better than our Career Fair. The work we do at TES to educate our community’s children is an innovative partnership with all staff and all parents.”

Eccles said they came up with the idea to help give some context to the Future Ready Skills, and asked the nearly 200 speakers to point out connections between the skills and elements of their work. 
“A third-grade student asked, ‘Why are we doing Future Ready?’ We quickly realized the kids needed context for why you use these skills. Jerry also made our school goal community outreach so it seemed like the right thing to do,” Eccles added.

The career fair helped foster student curiosity using an authentic and engaging approach, Boyd said.
What that looked like in action was a room full of students in small groups, listening to community members talk about their jobs, and asking questions. Many of the presenters brought hands-on items such as protective gear, samples of their work or other visual aids for the students to check out.

Chris Nason of Nason’s Creations told a small group of students that he designs houses, and then builds them. As he spoke about his business, the boys at his table had the chance to try using a manual screwdriver to drive a screw into a piece of wood. Then, they tried an electric screwdriver to experience the difference. Nason showed them a variety of other tools, and talked about framing and erecting steel structures, along with other skills.

At a nearby table, Jeff Hill, owner of 1-800-Got-Junk, talked with students about his business, which helps remove belongings from people’s homes and saves them from the landfill. Hill talked about how the business grew from one truck to a fleet of 27, and the importance of good customer service skills and communication. Asked about the most interesting item he or his employees have run across, Hill said, “It’s all interesting!” and recalled the time that they were asked to remove a full-sized carved carousel horse, which they were able to sell for $6,000.

Artist Melissa Cory spoke with students about different types of art, such as mixed media, art created from recycled or “found” items, painting, sculpting and more. In her prior career, Cory was a surgical technician and wanted to work in a capacity that would allow her to use her creativity. 
Software engineer Chris Newbill shared about the programming that goes into building a website and showed them some fun tricks by playing around with code. Then, he added their names to an online “Candyland” game and gave them a chance to play it.

Firefighter and inventor Steve Randall talked with students about how the fire department helps people, then showed them a tool he created called “RescueBlox,” which can help firefighters or emergency personnel quickly immobilize a vehicle and can hold the weight of three school buses.

“Usually what we would do is put a bunch of wood under a car, and I never liked that as a firefighter,” Randall said. So, he worked with an engineer to develop a safer solution, RescueBlox, which are made out of aluminum and only weigh 18 pounds. The idea took about two years to develop, Randall said. 

He emphasized that the students can bring their own dreams to fruition through hard work. 
“You guys will have good ideas someday, too!”
Artist Melissa Cory shows a group of Tahoma Elementary students what her next task will be -- adding a mermaid to an in-process piece of art.
Citizens Housing Committee examines enrollment data
Committee members examine school attendance areas on a large map during the Dec. 12 meeting.
Work continues by a group of Tahoma parents and staff members who are looking at potential ways to reduce enrollment at two elementary schools.

The group is a subcommittee of the Citizens Housing Advisory Committee, which is tasked by the School Board with looking at enrollment and facilities needs over the next 10 years. The subcommittee is focused on immediate needs because Tahoma Elementary and Lake Wilderness Elementary schools are exceeding enrollment capacity. The committee is seeking solutions that will be effective for at least three years.

The subcommittee met on Dec. 12 to look at enrollment data, current school attendance area boundaries, and to learn more about transportation routing. They also receive an update on installation of 12 portable classrooms at Glacier Park, Rock Creek, and Lake Wilderness elementary schools that is expected to take place in the summer of 2020. Each school would get two portable buildings that have two classrooms per building. The School Board will decide whether to go ahead with the purchase of the portable classrooms in January.

Committee members pored over school district maps, discussed the impact of new-home construction on attendance, and traded ideas about potential changes to attendance areas that would shift students from Tahoma Elementary and Lake Wilderness Elementary. 

The committee next meets on Jan. 8 to begin creating draft proposals that will be reviewed by the public and the full housing committee before final recommendations are taken to the School Board in February.
Zero hour music offers fun, skill building at Lake Wilderness
"Boomwhacker," handbell students make mornings musical
Lake Wilderness Elementary students play the handbells in Zoryana Lakotiy's zero hour "Boomwhacker and Handbell" club this week.
In the early mornings this fall, a somewhat unfamiliar type of music drifted out of the music room at Lake Wilderness Elementary School. Inside, a group of students and teacher Zoryana Lakotiy worked on refining songs they played on the “boomwhacker,” a percussion instrument made of a tube of colored plastic. 

Sitting on the rug before the projection screen, the students held the boomwhackers in their hands and waited to play their note. The tubes are of varied lengths, and sound different notes when struck on the ground. Lakotiy played songs on the computer that featured accompaniment, and videos on the screen showed the students which note to play. In each video, a bouncing graphic would land on the note that should be played at that beat in the song. For example, in a song called “Sugar Fairy,” a glowing fairy bounced from note to note.

The students played songs such as “Ladybug,” “Paris” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Between songs, they had the option to switch boomwhackers with a classmate.

Lakotiy said she wanted to offer the class because when kids have the opportunity to try different instruments, it often sparks a love of music. 

“Zero Hour music classes are fun! They really teach kids how to appreciate music and all the joy that it can bring,” said Lakotiy, who began teaching music at Lake Wilderness last school year. The classes also help underscore teamwork and good musicianship, she said. Other music zero hour classes throughout the year include choir, boomwhacker/handbell club, conga club and recorder club.

Every week this quarter, the students learned a different musical concept and then worked on a specific song related to that concept, such as tempo and rhythms, dynamics, form, harmony/chords, articulation, meter, duration, pitch, the musical alphabet, notes/rests, in addition to how to play the instruments with good technique and posture. 

Partway through the class, the students returned the boomwhackers to their storage bin, and Lakotiy distributed handbells, a more well-known instrument that some Tahoma elementary students play during music class.

As Lakotiy prepared to lead them in a song called “Evening Rise,” a student exclaimed, “Oh yeah, I love this one!” The group played several Christmas songs, then sight-read “Carol of the Bells.”

Asked why they chose to take the class, Alina C. said “I love music!” and Sawyer C. replied that “it’s calming.”

Principal Audrey Meyers said that zero hour classes increase learning choices for students, such as the music choices, Team Games, Green Team and volleyball.

“We are looking forward to offering many new activities for our students during the winter trimester starting in January,” Meyers said.

Zero hour classes across the district are primarily funded through levy dollars.
Students play the "boomwhacker" instrument -- colorful plastic tubes of varying lengths that create different notes -- while following along with the music on the screen.
THS students win VFW essay contest
Two Tahoma High School students from Allison Agnew's class were recently selected as winners in the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy essay contest. Pictured here are, from left, senior Zach Anderson, veteran Howard Van Erum and senior Asheton Vlist-Madigan. Vlist-Madigan won first place from the local VFW and $200, and also third place in the district. Anderson won second place from the local VFW and $100. Van Erum served as a Marine and then in the U.S. Navy. He served in a submarine and during the Vietnam War. The topic of the essays was "What Makes America Great?"

Spotlight on THS: Medal of Honor recipient visits classes
Leroy Petry, Medal of Honor Recipient and Master Sergeant Retired, visited Cary Collins’s Military History of the United States classes at Tahoma High School this week to share some of his experiences in the United States Army. 

One of Collins’s colleagues described the opportunity to meet MSG Petry in person as a “lifetime experience” for students. During his 90-minute morning presentation, MSG Petry, who served eight deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, removed his Medal of Honor and passed it around the classroom for students to hold. He also demonstrated the functioning of his prosthetic device, which is the result of a firefight that took place in Afghanistan on Memorial Day 2008. 

During that incident, MSG Petry, to protect his fellow soldiers, picked up and was attempting to throw back a live enemy hand grenade that detonated just as it was leaving his hand. During the same engagement, the Army Ranger was shot through both legs by an AK-47 round. 

MSG Petry urged students to seek out the positives in life and to approach each day as an opportunity to improve themselves and those around them. He commented that he was impressed by the high school, and especially its level of commitment to military service and active involvement in honoring military veterans both past and present.
From left, sophomore Joshua Herd, Medal of Honor Recipient Master Sergeant Retired Leroy Petry, and sophomore Tanner Rodwell.

School Board reorganizes, begins discussion of superintendent search
Tahoma School Board completed its reorganization Dec. 17, by assigning members as representatives to schools, departments, and outside organizations. The board reorganizes each year, but this year’s assignments reflect the presence of three newly elected members.

Board members had previously chosen Tami Henkel to serve as president this year, with Katrina Montgomery as vice president. On Dec. 17, the board named Pete Miller as legislative representative and Malia Hollowell as Teaching and Learning representative. Val Paganelli remains as finance representative. Here are the other representative responsibilities for each board member:

  • Henkel: Cedar River Elementary, Lake Wilderness Elementary, CTE, and Technology Advisory Committee, WIAA.
  • Montgomery: Glacier Park Elementary, Maple View Middle School, PBIS, Human Resources, Operations, PTA/PTO Round Table, district Safety Committee.
  • Paganelli: Tahoma Elementary, Tahoma High School, Maple Valley Community Center, Student Board representatives, Technology Advisory Committee, Greater Maple Valley Area Council.
  • Hollowell: Shadow Lake Elementary, PTA/PTO Round Table, communication, Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce.
  • Miller: Summit Trail Middle School, Special Education, Tahoma Schools Foundation, Maple Valley City Council, mental health.

In other business Dec. 17, the Board:
  • Held first readings of revisions to four policies and one procedure to reflect changes in state law. Details can be viewed on BoardDocs, under School Board on the Tahoma website.
  • Approved the sale of surplus equipment, including band instruments, electronic components and non-working computers.
  • Directed Interim Superintendent Mike Maryanski to begin gathering background materials that will help the board as it begins discussing how to structure the search for a permanent superintendent.

Bus driver training begins Jan. 8
Are you looking for a flexible, rewarding and vital job in our community? We're hiring bus drivers!

The Tahoma School District will be starting a school bus driver training session on Jan. 8.

If you are interested, please follow these steps:
  • Visit our website at and apply for any of the posted bus driver positions.
  • Your application will be reviewed, and you will likely be contacted for additional screening
  • After the additional screening, we will meet with you in person and discuss the details of the position.
  • Attend the training that begins on Jan. 8.

If you would like to attend the training, you must complete the steps above (If you have applied in the past but the application is outdated, please update and renew it online).

Untrained drivers will get paid as they train. The district reimburses for most out-of-pocket expenses, such as getting your endorsements and license. Licensed bus drivers may be eligible for a $1,500 stipend. If you would like to know more or have any questions, please contact Transportation Trainer & Dispatcher Tiffeny Moore at or 425-413-3225.

If you know someone who might be interested in this event and this opportunity, please feel free to share this information. We look forward to welcoming new bus drivers to our team!

For anyone interested in other positions with the Tahoma School District, our current openings are listed here.

Tahoma Teacher job fair planned for Feb. 5
The Tahoma School District will host a Teacher Job Fair from 4-7 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2020 in the Learning Commons at Tahoma High School.

We are hiring kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, counselors, Special Education teachers, Behavioral Intervention Specialists, occupational/physical therapists, and psychologists. At the event, you'll have the opportunity to meet our principals, drop off your resume and ask any questions you may have about working for Tahoma.

To learn more about our district or the job fair, visit our Human Resources page or call 425-413-3406.

Please use the east entrance to THS (off Maple Valley Highway near Les Schwab).

Report suspicious activity, concerns on anonymous tip line

Tahoma students, parents and community members who wish to report suspicious or threatening activity have several options:
  • Call 911 for emergencies
  • Contact a school principal for assistance in dealing with harassment, intimidation, or bullying;
  • Use the district’s free, anonymous tip line, SafeSchools Alert at 855-997-8625, or visit the web page here.

School safety is everyone’s concern. If you see something, say something.

Nominations open for Future Ready Exemplary Performance Awards
Nominations are now being accepted for the Tahoma School Board's Exemplary Performance Award in Future Ready Skills for juniors and seniors. This award seeks to recognize students who have grown and developed their ability in a Future Ready Skill over time, as well as showcase their current achievement, and the importance of the skill in their life. The award is available to nominated juniors and seniors who submit and demonstrate evidence of achievement or accomplishment in a particular skill. Students who receive an award will have documented their authentic application of and their exceptional ability in the skill while in high school.

Nominate current juniors and/or seniors for the Tahoma School Board’s Future Ready Exemplary Performance Award by Jan. 15. Teachers, coaches, staff and community members are invited to nominate students.

If you know a current junior or senior who demonstrates exemplary performance in one of the Future Ready Skills, nominate them today! Nominated students will be notified immediately and encouraged to apply. Applications will be evaluated, and students will be notified in the spring.

Students who receive this award will be honored during their Senior Awards night at Tahoma High School, recognized at graduation through special honor cords, and receive a digital badge which they may post on social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, allowing them to share their achievement with family, friends, employers, and others, as well as build a positive digital reputation.

Student applications are due March 6.

MONDAY, Dec. 23
NO SCHOOL, districtwide for Winter Break, Dec. 23-Jan. 3

MONDAY, Jan. 6
School resumes, districtwide after Winter Break

School Board Work-Study Session about elementary site plans and update on superintendent position, 6 p.m.

Engage Tahoma: What do local levies pay for? 10-11:30 a.m., Central Services Center
Engage Tahoma: What do local levies pay for? 6-7:30 p.m., Central Services Center

Engage Tahoma: What do local levies pay for? 1-2:30 p.m., Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center

TUESDAY, Jan. 14
School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

MONDAY, Feb. 3
King County Elections deadline to register to vote or to update registration online or by mail for the Feb. 11, 2020 election.

The Tahoma School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination:
Title IX Officer
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
ADA Coordinator
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Section 504 Coordinator
Director of Special Services
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Tahoma Matters staff Wendy Castleman:
Tahoma School District | 425-413-3400 | Visit our website
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E., Maple Valley, WA 98038