• Dear Island Park Families,

    Welcome back to school!

    I hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer. I also hope you are recharged and ready to start a new school year. I am so delighted that you are part of our amazing learning community. I welcome and value your positive energy and dedication to excellence in education, and I look forward to working with you and your children.

    All signs point to another incredible and productive school year. Our skilled and devoted staff is already planning and preparing for your child(ren). Our enthusiastic office team is registering new families, ordering needed materials and updating student files. Our hard-working and conscientious custodians have spent the entire summer thoroughly cleaning the facility. And, our much-appreciated PTA is gearing up to welcome families, provide volunteer opportunities, and offer other exciting events and programs. We are indeed a joyful and caring community with the common goals of nurturing responsible, caring students and promoting high-level learning.

    This is sure to be a busy year as we prepare to open a fourth elementary school in 2016 and work to make the transition of saying goodbye to established Island Park families and welcome to new families from our sister schools smooth and sincere.

    Student Placement

    A great deal of time, effort and thought has gone into the process of student placement for the 2015-2016 school year.

    Careful consideration was given to input from staff and families as well as student learning styles. Classrooms have been balanced academically and socially. Our class lists are structured to provide equitable class sizes at each grade level. Moving students is difficult without causing imbalances and inequities.

    Thank you so much for being positive with your child and helping him or her understand that it is impossible to place all students with a preferred best friend or teacher. ALL of our staff works hard to make school a positive experience for ALL students. Island Park is eagerly looking forward to enriching your child’s life. Thank you for understanding that it can take a few weeks for a child to acclimate to a new grade, peer group and teacher.

    New Staff

    Each year brings positive change. As of the first week of August, additions to our staff include:

    Our new kindergarten teacher is Nina Kitchen. Nina comes to us via the Renton School District where she has taught kindergarten for several years. She brings great enthusiasm, positive energy and incredible references from those with whom she has worked. I am confident that her skill set and love for our youngest students will enrich children’s lives.

    Our wonderful kindergarten teacher, Jeanne Berkshire, announced her retirement immediately after school let out for the summer. In typical Jeanne Berkshire fashion, she did so with little fanfare and a great deal of humbleness. Jeanne taught for 34 years, twenty of them on Mercer Island. So many young children benefited from her skills, patience and love. Jeanne's commitment to giving 110% every day to her students was awe-inspiring. I know I speak for the rest of the staff, parents and hundreds of children in wishing her good luck in retirement and thanking her for dedicating so many years in the service of providing a strong foundation for our next generation of upstanding citizens.

    Librarian: Brigit White comes to us from the Highline School District where her most recent position was that of librarian in a K-6 school. Her responsibilities included literacy, research and technology instruction. She also taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades for eleven years. She has ELL training and has worked in dual language learning environments. Brigit knows comprehensive literacy well; she was her school's literacy lead! Accordingly, I am excited for the library/classroom literacy connection and collaboration she will be able to provide. Her passion for reading and writing is evident. What is also evident is her excitement for the job and working with children.

    PLP: I am excited to introduce you to our new PLP (Personalized Learning Program) teacher, Alicja (pro-nounce Alicia) Lacki. Alicja worked in a similar type program in the Kent school district for five years. She is creative, caring and can’t wait to meet and work with your wonderful students and families. Alicia speaks fluent Polish, Russian and Ukrainian!

    Technology Specialist: Our new tech specialist is Sharon Bobbio who comes to our district from Microsoft. She has been providing tech support at Microsoft since 2013. Sharon also has experience supporting the Mac operating systems while working for Filter Digital. She attended school at Bellevue College and received an Associates degree in Network and Computer Administration.

    Our overload P.E. teacher this year is Stacy Smedberg. She will be working with Nate Krahn a few days a week. Stacy worked at West Mercer last year and arrives with rave reviews. We are excited to have her join our staff. We welcome back Crystal Taitague as our music overload teacher. Crystal was a student-support educator here for many years. Her strong music skills and love of teaching are sure to create a fantastic learning experience for our young musicians. Welcome Stacy and Crystal.

    We welcome back Heather Sadler to fourth grade. Heather took a year off to enjoy time with her new daughter. She is excited to be back. Her wonderful replacement last year, Jacqueline Ney, will be joining our third grade team.

    Facilities Reminders

    We have repainted our student drop-off area to clearly delineate student-walking areas from carpool lanes. The diagonal stripes painted across the front sidewalk serve to remind students to stay clear of the parking lot curb as cars pull up for drop off or pick up. Thank you for reminding your children to walk only portions of sidewalk that do not have stripes.

    Installation of interior and exterior cameras was completed last year enhancing our ability to record who is on our campus at all times.

    Thank you to all who are helping prepare for the new school year. Your commitment to insuring that Island Park remains a celebrated and successful school is awe-inspiring. I eagerly look forward to greeting students and families again. It remains an honor and privilege to serve as your principal. Please stop by and say hello. Together, I know we will make this school year one of growth and achievement for all children.

    Warmest Regards,

    David Hoffman

    Hoffman Signature
    David Hoffman

    Island Park Elementary