Superintendent's Message

Dr. Gary Plano February 1, 2016 

Dear parents, staff and friends of Mercer Island Schools,

I hope this message finds each of you doing well as we approach our mid-way point for the school year. I'd like to share a few updates with you.

Thank you, supporters. Once again our parents, school supporters and residents came through to provide additional funding to our schools last October-December, during the Mercer Island Schools Foundation's annual phone-a-thon. The foundation met its goal of raising $499,000, an extraordinary accomplishment and testament to our generous community. Thank you to the many donors who contributed and thanks to our 200 volunteers who made this success possible. Your donation will have an immediate, tangible impact on our students, teachers and schools. Donations reach all of our schools and every one of the district's 4,300 students.

Levy renewal election: By now you have received a mailing from the school district about Levy Propositions 1 and 2. If passed, these two propositions will renew expiring levies that pay for capital improvements and technology in all of our schools, as well as new school buses. Please be sure to fill out your ballot and vote on February 9.

Volunteer mentors wanted for Robotics competition: I am excited to report that for the first time Mercer Island High School's students are participating in the FIRST Robotics competition, a leading national competition for aspiring inventors and engineers. In January students received their starter kits and they have already begun measuring, designing and building their robot. You can help too. The Robotics club still needs a few more adult volunteers to mentor the students. If you have experience in engineering, computer science and shop/building skills, please contact our Robotics teacher, Sam Gadbury. Learn more and witness our talented students in action by following the story to your left.

Nominate an alum for a Pathfinder Award: We know we have an extraordinary community on Mercer Island and many of our graduates have moved on to do remarkable things in their lives. This year we have launched a new alumni awards program to honor graduates of Mercer Island High School who have improved humankind with their leadership, creativity and character. If you'd like to nominate a candidate who graduated at least 10 years ago, please visit our alumni site and submit a nomination by February 19. We will celebrate our winners at the foundation's Breakfast of Champions on April 26.

K-5 Spanish-language program: The district continues to study the feasibility of adding a Spanish-language program to the K-5 curriculum to begin in the fall of 2016. There is research showing that students' cognitive abilities increase when students learn another language early in their educational program. Currently our elementary teachers are working with their principals to review a prototypical master schedule, showing the 40-minute instructional segments of the three rotations (P.E., Music, and Spanish) throughout a three-week period and how the instructional minutes are apportioned.

As always, I sincerely appreciate the contributions by each one of you to support our students as they grow and learn.

Thank you and best regards,

Gary Plano, Ed. D.