Welcome Back Letter 2019-20

  • 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.

    A warm welcome to new Island Park families. I look forward to meeting and working with you. Please make a note of our welcome-back-to-school community coffee at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, September 4.

    Student Placement

    A great deal of time, effort and thought has gone into the process of student placement for the 2019-2020 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 school, grade, peer group and teacher.

    New Staff

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

    Second Grade: Our new second grade teacher is Julia Handalian. Julia comes to us from the Tempe Arizona area where she taught for five years. Julia moved to the Seattle area last year and was a long-term substitute at Northwood elementary. She comes with glowing references and a contagious, can-do attitude.

    Spanish: Nicole Winters is our new Spanish teacher. Nicole grew up in the L.A. area and received Spanish instruction beginning in kindergarten. Nicole recently received her Masters in teaching from Seattle U. She is also a graduate from the U.W. Seattle, where her minor was Spanish. Her cheerfulness and positive energy are sure to get her students excited about and engaged in Spanish.

    Compass Program: Island Park will be the new site of the district’s elementary Compass Program. The program will broaden our current social/emotional services to qualifying IEP students. We welcome Hannah Robinson to the Island Park learning community as the Compass teacher. Hannah is a recent graduate from the University of Washington. She comes with years of experience in the area of social/emotional interventions and services.

    Paraprofessionals: Our new paraprofessionals are Palwinder Sandhu, Julie Ulrich and Danette Marie. They will be working in various specialized programs in the building. All three are joining us from our sister elementary schools. They are very skilled and committed to student growth and achievement.

    Welcome to all! We are so pleased you are part of the Island Park family.

    Current Classroom Teacher Roster (2019-2020)

    Kindergarten: Lori deStowlinski, Jordan Jacobsen, Mary Mullen
    First Grade: Sharon Jarnigan, Tony Ive, Shelley Wangen
    Second Grade: Julia Handalian, Samantha Moseley, Kerida Millison, Kelly Rorem
    Third Grade: Meredith Carlson, Stephanie John-Lewis, Diana Low
    Fourth Grade: Ahisha Avant, Katherine Salem (formerly Jacobson), Michelle Mount
    Fifth Grade: Anne Larson, Griffin Jones, Martina Fitzgerald

    A Few Facilities Updates/Reminders

    • New interior construction occurred this summer in anticipation of the flexible learning needs of both the Compass Program and students who work in the resource room.

    • Painted lines near the student drop-off area clearly delineate student-walking areas from carpool lanes. The diagonal yellow 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 exercise caution and stay away from the curb when using the front sidewalk.

    Skyward Accounts

    You are now able to log into your Skyward Family Access account and complete/update district forms, permission slips and notifications required for the start of school.

    You will be receiving an instructive email from the district regarding how to access Skyward. You can also go to the district website (www.mercerislandschools.org), click on the Families tab and go to the Skyward Family Access link.

    It is very important that you complete all the required information in Skyward prior to the start of the school year so that your student’s demographic information, phone numbers, email addresses, and emergency contacts are current.

    Laptops and tech support will be available during the Island Park K-5 Open House on Tuesday, September 3 (11:00 – 12:00) to help families complete the information.

    Important Dates for Fall 2019

    Please mark your calendars for the following start-of-the-school-year events:

    • Tuesday, Sept. 3: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Island Park Open House – Families are invited to come by the school during this one hour window to view their classrooms and meet their teachers.

    • Wednesday, September 4

      • First Day of School for 1st - 5th grade students only. NOTE: This is an early release day like all Wednesdays throughout the year. Students will be dismissed at 2:05pm. Kindergarteners’ first day of school is Monday, September 10.
      • 9:15 a.m. - PTA Welcome Coffee. All K-5 Families are welcome; we encourage you to come make new parent connections and learn about PTA volunteer opportunities. 
      • Kindergarten Family Connection Parent/Child Conferences begin (by appointment, please contact the school office if you do not receive a confirmation regarding conference date and time by the end of August or need to change a previously scheduled time. Kindergarten conferences continue on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.)

    • Thursday, September 5; Kindergarten Family Connection Parent/Child Conferences (normal school day for grades 1-5)
    • Friday, September 6: Kindergarten Family Connection Parent/Child Conferences (normal school day for grades 1-5)

    • Monday, September 9: First official day of Kindergarten (normal school day for all grades K-5)

    • Tuesday, September 17: K-5 Curriculum Night

      • K-2 5:00-6:00pm
      • 3-5 6:00-7:00pm 
    • Friday, September 20: PTA’s Back To School Family Bash (5:00 – 8:00 p.m.)

    • Monday/Tuesday, Sept 23 and 24: Picture days (more information to follow)

    Volunteering Opportunities

    Community involvement is a key component to the success of students in our Mercer Island Schools. We invite everyone to be a part of our school community. We welcome and encourage volunteers and hope that you will take advantage of the many opportunities available to you. These opportunities include supporting classrooms, attending/volunteering at PTA events, chaperoning field trips, and more. Please contact your child’s teacher for ways to become involved in your child’s classroom. To learn more about how to become a volunteer, please follow this link: Volunteer Info. Also, check out volunteering opportunities at the school’s PTA site: PTA Website
    For more information about the start of the year school, district events and important information, be sure to explore Island Park’s website and related links. Island Park Website
    Thank you to all who are helping prepare for the new school year. Your commitment to ensuring 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
    Island Park Elementary