Nov. 29, 2018
In this issue:
10 themes emerge during listening tour
Announcing new "Engage Tahoma" sessions
THS art students as Conscientious Workers
Tahoma fact check: Boundary review
Spotlight on STMS: Grizzlies Cafe
District kudos
School Board OKs levy collection change
News briefs
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

Ten themes emerge during listening tour
Superintendent Tony Giurado talks with Shadow Lake Elementary staff before they participate in the table discussion to offer their thoughts about what is working, what needs improvement and what is not working in the district.

After hearing from nearly 900 staff, students, parents, and community members during a two-month listening tour, Superintendent Tony Giurado had a lot to say in his report to the School Board at its Nov. 20 work-study session.

Giurado presented results of the listening tour, which took him to every school and department in the school district and included two sessions for parents and community members as well as meetings with students. The listening tour was a priority for Giurado, who was hired last spring to the district’s top job after former Superintendent Rob Morrow retired. His goals were to learn more about the school district, develop relationships, and build on successes while also making meaningful change as needed.

During the tour, Giurado asked each group three main questions: What is working well and needs to continue; what still has issues and requires adjustments; and what is not working well and might need significant problem-solving or should be discontinued.

At each stop, participants were divided into table-discussion groups to work on those questions. "The engagement was really robust," Giurado said. Responses were collected, shared and rated by each group. He then sorted group responses by topic to begin identifying common concerns or celebrations.

What emerged was a list of 10 themes, which then were further sorted according to how well they are working. Giurado told the Board that it is not practical to try to address every issue that was raised during the listening tour. Instead, the District will focus on how to address the more prominent areas of need identified in the process, along with attention to issues that can be more easily resolved.

The two student representatives to the School Board also spoke about the listening session with students at the high school.

Next steps include follow-up conversations with school principals and other administrators to review comments from the listening tour, investigate and gather information. After that, work begins to develop priorities and how to address them this school year and beyond. As the process unfolds, the district will communicate progress to staff, students, parents and community members.

"We're not going to be able to work on all of these at once, but our goal is to find a few meaningful things that we can do to make a difference," Giurado said.

The full report can be seen on the BoardDocs website for Nov. 20. Here are highlights:

Top 10 themes
1.    Growth, overcrowding, and staffing
2.    Climate and culture 
3.    Supports for students
4.    Schedule
5.    Contract
6.    Instructional practices
7.    Communication 
8.    Care for students
9.    Technology 
10.  Safety 

The themes were further defined by identifying whether they are working, need improvement, or are not working:
What is working well?
Culture and climate: Listening Tour participants indicated that a positive climate and culture was a strength and firmly in place across the District.

Contract: Many teachers expressed a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the newly negotiated contract and indicated that they feel valued as professionals.

Supports for students: A variety of supports for students were reported as effective, including Power Hour, extra academic support, logistical 5th to 6th grade transition elements, WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) program, and credit recovery options.

Vision: Many participants indicated there was a solid understanding and belief in the vision and goals at the school and district level.

Quality staff: Participants indicated that Tahoma School District has a strong foundation of high quality staff.
What needs improvement?
Schedule: Several proposed changes to class schedules were discussed at elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Growth, overcrowding, staffing: Though the school district as a whole is not overcrowded, two elementary schools in particular are concerned about enrollment growth and how that is affecting staffing support for students.

Supports for students: Discussion focused on how to improve or expand additional support for students in areas such as reading and math assistance, behavior, social and emotional support, and transition from elementary to middle schools and middle to high school.

Communication: Most staff comments focused on how to improve communication among teachers, support staff, and supervisors. Parent and community groups reported satisfaction with communication from schools and the district.

Technology: Staff identified several areas that could be improved to support teachers and students.
What is not working?
Growth, overcrowding, staffing: High enrollment at two elementary schools was highlighted, along with the need for equitable staffing to balance the needs of larger vs. smaller schools.

Instructional practices: Concerns from teachers about the pace of instructional change is too fast and more teacher “voice” is needed. Other concerns included the need for more professional learning time; and improving alignment of standards, report cards and assessments at the elementary level.

Supports for students: Many participants reported a high need to problem-solve impacts of scheduling and support for students from special programs.

Schedule: Among the areas of concern are middle-level blue/gold days, class periods that are too long, and student desire for more flexibility in scheduling classes.

Care for students: Additional resources and training are needed for mental health support for students.
Announcing new "Engage Tahoma" sessions
Tahoma School District is embarking upon a program to engage directly with community members to provide information and spark conversations around school issues.

The new outreach effort will be launched in early 2019 and is called “Engage Tahoma.” Initial plans call for up to three discussion topics each school year. The first two sessions will occur sometime in the second half of this school year, and will focus on school finance and classroom technology. Future topics for Engage Tahoma will be determined later and could be chosen based upon results from a school district survey of parents and community members that will happen this spring. Details on dates and times for the first two sessions will be announced in January.

Engage Tahoma is being created as a way for the district and School Board to be in more direct contact with the community to improve communication and understanding by providing information and gathering community comments and perspectives.

Board Member Didem Pierson voiced her approval of the proposal during the Nov. 20 work-study session when it was presented. “Aren’t we better together?” she said. “To me, that’s what it’s all about.” 

The format is to have two meetings per topic, lasting 90 minutes each. The first meeting would be to provide information about the topic and the second meeting would focus on discussion of the topic. The meetings are open to all community members, who will be divided into table discussion groups so that everyone has a chance to be heard. School Board members and district staff will attend each meeting.
Students in Jennifer McCoy's art classes at Tahoma High School worked this week on a project using two different types of reeds to create a cocoon shape. McCoy created specific targets for her students to assess their projects through the lens of the Conscientious Worker skill.
THS art students focus on Conscientious Worker skill
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. Tahoma Matters will feature examples of how those skills are being taught in classrooms. This month’s featured skill is Conscientious Worker.
In Jennifer McCoy’s 3-D Commercial Sculpture class this week, students transformed coils of wooden reeds and wire into creations from their own imagination and design. Beginning art students worked on creating skeletons for “cocoon” sculptures, which will be covered by tissue paper. An optional element of the project allows students to add lighting within their sculpture if they choose. While the project requires a sculpture that is 18 inches in height, length and depth, each artist could do anything else they wanted.

Senior Rachel Roeth said she was letting her sculpture evolve naturally as she worked.

“I’m just kind of putting pieces together. I think it’s going to be bigger than I anticipated, and I think I’m okay with that,” Roeth said. “I also wanted it to have this unique shape -- not circular or square, but this thing you haven’t seen before.”

McCoy refers to all the Future Ready skills in a course book that McCoy created for the class, but she specifically highlights two skills: Conscientious Worker and Collaborative Teammate. 

In the course book, students are asked to evaluate themselves on selected targets relating to the Conscientious Worker skill for each project. For example, they would rate themselves at a level 4 (highest), 3, 2 or 1 for targets such as: 
  • Participate actively, work positively and ethically, are reliable and punctual.
  • Demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors and are self-directed.
  • Set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressure.
  • Demonstrate initiative to advance skills to a higher level.
  • Prioritize, plan and manage time and work to achieve the intended result.

In addition to the self-reflection in their coursebooks, McCoy also shares targets related to the Conscientious Worker skill on tabletop displays at each student workspace.

While the beginning students worked with the wooden reeds on their cocoon sculptures, the advanced students were working on wire sculptures to show movement. The subjects of their work varied widely, from animals, people and flowers to an airplane (or boomerang or dinosaur -- that particular artist was having trouble settling on one design). Another advanced student created a tree reaching upward, with a swing hanging below.

“I’m not really good at working with wire,” said junior Zoey Beggs, who was forming a pouncing lion out of silver wire. “But, I think it’s one of the most interesting projects.”

The works of McCoy’s students, along with the rest of the art department’s students as well as faculty art pieces, will be on display in the fourth-annual Winter Art Flurry reception from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 in the art room hallway near the west student entrance at Tahoma High School.

To read more about the Conscientious Worker skill on the district level, click here.

Tahoma fact check
No major boundary review process currently planned
The district has received several questions and heard concerns about whether the district has decided to change attendance boundaries for next school year.

The short answer is no.

All boundary adjustments follow a process. At present there has been no discussion on what any next steps may be. District staff members do keep an eye on enrollment shifts, so if it appears there is crowding at one or more sites, the board and staff would work together to evaluate that. If and when a process is initiated, the district would communicate with parents and the community.

Two years ago, a committee of Tahoma parents, community members and staff conducted a complete boundary review, which resulted in a major shift of student populations and the move from four elementary buildings to six. District officials stated at that time that no major boundary review was anticipated in the near future, but that there was the potential need for slight adjustments and tweaks.

We will share answers to additional frequently asked questions with parents and community members in upcoming newsletters and also on our website here.

Spotlight on Summit Trail: Grizzlies Cafe
Principal Sean Cassidy accepts his drink order from student Brian R. at the Grizzlies Cafe. Also pictured are Carver H., at left, and Alley A.
The first Friday of each month, something special is happening at Summit Trail Middle School. Walking down the hallway, the scent of coffee comes from one of the classrooms. Soft music is playing, and staff who aren’t teaching drift in and out of the “Grizzlies Cafe,” a coffee shop that Heather Gehrke’s students are running.

The special education students are working on communication, customer service, money skills and how to follow steps in a process.

“I thought it would be a fun, practical way for these guys to use the skills that we work on in class,” Gehrke said. “When I mentioned it to parents in the summer, they were excited about it.”

The menu includes a variety of beverages such as tea and coffee, which will change a bit seasonally, along with donuts or baked goods. Staff members pay $1 per item, but are encouraged to bring their totals in different amounts of mixed coins.

“The kids are really excited about it and look forward to coffee shop Fridays,” she said, noting that they have discussed the possibility of asking a few band students to perform to increase the coffee shop vibe.

“The Grizzlies Cafe concept is one that several middle schools in the region use to help provide authentic experiences for students to meet their learning goals,” Principal Sean Cassidy said. “Heather has jumped on this idea and breathed life into the opportunity and made it both fun and educational.”

Cassidy said the cafe takes considerable work behind the scenes for Gehrke and paraeducators, and they do a great job of creating a special experience for the students.

“I can’t mention enough the outstanding work of our staff members who are so patient and kind with each student and scenario. Each of our students have different roles to support their individualized strengths that add value to the whole project,” Cassidy said. “Our staff loves to come in to the classroom/café setting to support our students and get a little bit of caffeine on a Friday morning. The room is constantly filled with smiles and laughter, as kids work on these different skills.”
Student Carver H. takes an order in the cafe from Dean of Students Kimberly McElreath as staff member Angela Kariam looks on.

Bears bring home fifth place
Courtesy photo
The THS Bears volleyball team won fifth place at the 4A Washington State Championship Tournament.

The Tahoma High School volleyball team won fifth place in the state tournament in Yakima earlier this month.

“We had a great tournament, winning three of our four state matches,” coach Sara Russell said. “We fell in match two to a tough Richland team who later went on to finish second in state.”

The fifth-place finish ties Tahoma’s best-ever state finish, Russell added.

THS student named Century Link athlete of the week
Karen Sullivan, center, accepts a check for the THS athletic department from Century Link VP of operations Sue Anderson and SeaGal Bronwyn.
Tahoma High School girls basketball guard Karen Sullivan was named the Century Link Athlete of the Week recently during Power Hour. Sue Anderson, vice president of operations for Century Link, and SeaGal Bronwyn presented Sullivan with the award during a Power Hour ceremony.

Anderson cited Sullivan’s 3.99 GPA, earned while taking AP classes, along with her community service and positions as senior class vice president and captain of the basketball team. She received a patch for her letter jacket, a personalized jersey and football and two sideline tickets to a Seahawks game. A $1,000 grant was made to the athletic department as part of the award. 

Sullivan was nominated by her mother. When she found out the Seahawks selected her, she said she felt “overwhelming amounts of emotion.”
THS students selected for all-state choir, band
From left in the back row are Jason Parshall, Nicole Stan, Madison Collins, and Devan Toomey. Front row: Allie Orozco, Claire Cunningham, Hannah Unruh, Elsa Miller, Bailey Rupert, Kate Walker, Mina Klein.
Tahoma High School will send seven choir students and five band students to state and regional music competitions this year.  

Qualifying for all-state choir are Mina Klein, Allie Orozco, Devin Toomey, and Kate Walker. All-Northwest Choir qualifiers are Elsa Miller, Bailey Rupert, and Hannah Unruh.  

Qualifying for All-Northwest Honor Concert Band are Jason Parshall (alto saxophone) and Erwin Diaz (bass clarinet). Qualifying for All-State Honor Concert Symphony are Claire Cunningham (clarinet) and Madison Collins (oboe). Qualifying for All-State Honor Concert Band is Nicole Stan (clarinet).
School Board OKs levy collection change
The Tahoma School Board approved a resolution that will allow the school district to collect and use the full amount of levy funds approved by voters for 2019.

“There is no question that we need the revenue,” Board Member Bill Clausmeyer said.

Voters approved a two-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy last April for collection in 2019 and 2020. The levy was authorized to collect a maximum of $10,710,073 in 2019. The school district budgeted $9,714,172 from the levy, based on information from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction that provided estimates on levy collections under legislation resulting from the McCleary Decision, which increases state funding but limits local levies.

Since then, OSPI has refined its estimates and issued a revised levy collection worksheet that increases what Tahoma can collect. The additional funds will be placed in reserve until the School Board approves how the money will be spent. Four-year budget projections, which now are required for all school districts, indicate that Tahoma will need reserve funds to balance the budget, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The district is also maintaining classroom technology with reserve funds, due to the failure of last February’s technology levy.

In other business during November, the School Board:

  • Held a work-study session and discussed at regular meetings proposals for new operating procedures to conduct School Board business;
  • Received a report on the Superintendent’s Listening Sessions (see story above);
  • Reviewed and discussed a proposal for community engagement;
  • Approved district participation in the Municipal Research and Services Center, which hosts and manages small works rosters for public agencies. This service replaces in-house management of contractor lists for small projects;
  • Heard reports from Superintendent Tony Giurado and School Board President Mary Jane Glaser about their attendance at the recent Washington State School Directors Association conference in Spokane.
Families: Preregister for kindergarten now
Preregistration for students who will attend kindergarten in the 2019-2020 school year is underway. To preregister your child, simply complete the online form: We will mail a registration packet directly to your home in January.

The preregistration window will remain open through Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.

Preregistered families will receive our monthly Tahoma Kindergarten Learning Connections newsletter delivered via email.

Families are asked to bring their completed registration packets to their elementary school between January 22 and 25 to finalize their child's registration. Families will receive a free copy of the Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines book.

Not sure which elementary building your child will attend? Click here to enter your address in our online map. Or, for assistance, call the Transportation Department at 425-413-3220.

For more information about kindergarten, click here:

Immediate need: Food service employees, bus drivers, custodians
Tahoma School District is hiring food service employees, bus drivers and custodians. 

You do not need to be an experienced bus driver, and we offer training to newly hired drivers.

To apply or for more information about positions with our food services team, custodial team or our transportation team, please click here or call 425-413-3456.
You’re invited: Hour of Code
Tahoma elementary students and families are invited to code at home during Hour of Code in recognition of Computer Science Education week, Dec. 3-9. Hour of Code is a worldwide computer science initiative meant to bring students and families together to code for one hour.

If your family would like to participate, set aside an hour anytime during the week of Dec. 3-9 to code together. Check out the tutorials and activities on the Hour of Code website or access the tutorials on the Tahoma website (For Families, Learning Links, General Links) to decide how you want to spend your hour together. You can also find coding apps for your tablet such as: Lightbot: Code Hour; Cargo-Bot; or Scratch Jr. For first-timers, we recommend having students start with Angry Birds or Minecraft because it helps the kids understand that you need to look at the screen as a grid and that each move is a square on the grid. New last year was Minecraft: Hero’s Journey. Additional coding activities can be found here.

Complete your hour together as pair programmers. Pair programming is a technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One person is the “driver,” who writes code. Meanwhile the other person is the observer or navigator, who reviews each line of code as it is typed. The two programmers switch roles often. 

Email or send in a photo to your child’s STEM teacher ( Liz White, Sarah Lichtenberger, or Michelle Hagen) with your name and a brief caption such as: “Mom and Johnny code Ice Age for their Hour of Code!” You may be featured in a Tahoma Matters newsletter or on your school's Project Lead the Way bulletin board.

Students can pick up award certificates for themselves and their family programmers in the office at their school!

Middle schools seek speakers for Future Ready Day
We are excited to announce plans for this school year’s Future Ready Day at the middle school level. For those familiar with this day, there are a few changes. Primarily it will no longer be on the same day as the high school program. This year the middle level Future Ready Day will be on Jan. 18, 2019. What has not changed is the opportunity for students to hear from a variety of people from diverse career paths and gain a better understanding of the skills and aptitudes needed to be successful in high school and beyond.
For Future Ready Day, all students grades 6-8 (Maple View Middle School and Summit Trail Middle School) will participate in lessons and presentations to help them learn more about careers and planning for the future. Students will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers working in different career pathways. Speakers will be asked to share their story of how they ended up in the job they are doing as well as a sense of a typical work day, skills needed to be successful and where and how to find more information about each career. Students will also work with their classroom teachers to complete a Future Ready passport and reflect on what they have learned and can do now to best position themselves for the future.
If you have participated as a presenter in the past, we hope you will save the date and be available this January. We are also looking for additional dynamic presenters, especially those who work in STEAM careers (Science, Technology, Math, Art & Design, and Engineering), as well as military, law enforcement, health sciences and the trades.
If you would be willing to work with our students and are available on January 18 please contact:

Parent workshops available for parents of children 0-5
Registration is now open for the “READY! for Kindergarten” program, which helps parents and caregivers prepare their children for a happy and successful school experience. The workshop includes three 90-minute sessions, each with a different theme. Parents receive a binder with 26 age-appropriate targets for ages birth through 5, resources, toys and games, and training on how to use the resources.

Workshops will be at Lake Wilderness Elementary School on Jan. 16, March 6 and April 3. The cost to participate is $150 for materials (a $200 value). Payment is due by Jan. 11. Full and partial scholarships are available to those who qualify.

More information about the program is available here. Or, click here to register.

THS club tackles community service projects
The Tahoma DECA program is focusing on three main community service projects and four smaller activities this school year. DECA is a national marketing-education organization. Organizing and carrying out community service is among the many activities students are encouraged to do.

Shortly after school began this year, DECA assisted staff, students and community who came together to provide support for all students in need, following the suicide of three current or former students during the past year. DECA teamed up with Taylor Stevens of Pink Power Prints to sell special shirts and Tahoma buttons, which featured a heart design for the “o” in Tahoma. The sales raised $250 from buttons and $1,700 from shirts. The money will be used to promote more mental health awareness and let people know there is help available. 

DECA also participated in the Halloween Carnival, hosted by Future Business Leaders of America. DECA set up a photo booth and assisted running games. This event brought together FBLA, DECA, the Future Farmers of America, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and the Future Health Care Professionals club. This community service activity provides a friendly and safe environment for kids; over 300 kids attended.  

The final large event that DECA participates in is the annual toy drive. DECA’s goal is to collect at least 200 toys and $200 cash. The toys and cash are donated to ASB and “Shop with a Cop” (which provides toys to kids in need) to help Maple Valley families. 

DECA also participated in these events:

  • Directing traffic and cheering participants at the Storm Chase 5K run, which raised money for the Maple Valley Memorial for Veterans.
  • Selling bracelets for cancer awareness. DECA members, led by Haley Huff, met their goal by collecting $100 during a one-week period.
  • Teamed with Tahoma wrestling during its shoe-drive fundraiser.
  • Sold food and drinks at a speech and debate contest in the Bear Den. DECA then donated all the profits, $530, to Tahoma Speech and Debate.  

Alumni spotlight: Rhiannon Rasaretnam
Tahoma graduate Rhiannon Rasaretnam was selected as one of Seattle Magazine’s “Most Influential People for 2018” in a recent article. Rasaretnam, who graduated in June, helped organize the Seattle March for Our Lives with a student from Seattle, Emilia Allard.

Since the march, the article states, the two have taken their demands to Olympia, and also worked with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility on Initiative 1639. To check out the article, click here.
Schools collect toys for food bank gift program
Each year, Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services organizes a Children’s Gift Program to allow community members in need to select gifts for their children before the holiday season. Tahoma schools have traditionally participated in the gift drive that helps supply this program.
Each building is collecting new, unwrapped gifts for children ages 12 and younger, along with $25 gift cards for children ages 13-18. If your family would like to make a donation, please send gifts and gift cards to school by Dec. 6.
If you’re wondering what age/stage toy, clothing or coat to purchase, consider letting your student choose a gift for a child in his or her own age range.
The Maple Valley Food Bank serves residents from Black Diamond, Covington, Maple Valley and those who live within the borders of the Tahoma School District. For more information about the food bank, visit or call 425-432-8633.

FRIDAY, Nov. 30
Cedar River Elementary Missoula Children's Theatre "King Arthur's Quest," 7 p.m., CRES

Shadow Lake Elementary PTA movie night, 7 p.m., SLES

School Board work-study session (topic: Secondary building site plans with principals), 6 p.m., Central Services Center

Lake Wilderness Elementary "Night of the Notables," 5 p.m., LWES

Tahoma High School Winter Flurry Art Show, 6-7 p.m., art room hallway, THS

FRIDAY, Dec. 7
Rock Creek Elementary Missoula Children's Theatre "The Secret Garden," 7 p.m., RCES

Lake Wilderness Elementary Holiday Breakfast, 8-11 a.m., LWES

TUESDAY, Dec. 11
School Board work-study session (topic: Elementary building site plans with principals), 6 p.m., Central Services Center

What's for lunch?
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