• October 6, 2020


    Dear Northwood Families,


    Fall has arrived!  I hope you have enjoyed the transition of the seasons over the past few weeks.  After the smoky days, I found the rain and cooler weather refreshing.   


    As happens each year, our teachers and students have spent time over this first month of school getting to know one another, building their classroom communities, and focusing on positive expected behaviors and routines for success.  Although this has been occurring in a Zoom-based environment, I've been impressed with the ways in which learners are making connections with each other, playing together during classroom choice time, and getting into the groove of learning routines.  Translating our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to the remote environment has provided consistency for our students as they work to “Be the Three” each day.  Staff have taught, practiced, and acknowledged expected school behaviors each day.  Staff are distributing numerous Soaring Owl tickets to our students to acknowledge the good choices they are making each day.  Great job, Northwood Owls!


    The following topics are included in this message:


    • Equity Efforts, Past, Present, and Future
    • Attendance Matters!
    • Assessments during Red Remote Learning
    • Northwood Curbside Library Pick-up
    • Fall Festival Parties - October 31
    • Specialist Opportunities
    • Orange Learning Plan
    • Thanks to the PTA Volunteers
    • Upcoming Events


    Equity Efforts, Past, Present, and Future

    Since its opening in the 2016-17 school year, Northwood has had a staff team working on issues of equity, access, and inclusion.  Initially called the Diversity Team, now dubbed the Equity Team, this group of educators is led this year by two teacher leaders, Mrs. Angela Mitchell (4th grade) and Mr. Sean O’Callaghan (Kindergarten) in close collaboration with our Administrative Team (Principal and Associate Principal).  Over the course of the years, we have worked with several experts across the region to support development of staff knowledge and skills to support equity in our schools, including:

    • Pedro Noguera, educator, speaker, and author of Excellence through Equity
    • Caprice Hollins of Cultures Connecting, educator, speaker and author of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies for Facilitating Conversations about Race
    • Ben Ibale of WEA: Culturally Responsive Strategies, Culturally Responsive Classroom Management
    • Rosalind Wiseman of Cultures of Dignity
    • several other authors and thought leaders through book studies and video presentations.

    This year, our team is continuing our school-based work, alongside the District’s Superintendent's Equity Advisory Council and a newly-formed staff group, Dynamic Social Justice.  Our goals include advancing our staff and community knowledge of the issues of race, racism, and whiteness in our culture, as well as looking at other issues of privilege and inequity that create barriers for marginalized people across our communities.  To that end, we are examining materials, programs, systems, and language with an eye toward disrupting systems of inequity and replacing them with more equitable, inclusive structures.  We will continue our own ongoing staff and student learning and we are partnering with our PTA Leaders in this work.  Our Northwood PTA recently created and filled a new position, Director of Equity and Inclusion, to help lead this work in the broader community.  We look forward to this partnership with parents as we continue to learn and grow toward a more equitable future together.


    Attendance Matters!

    The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has mandated that schools track student attendance whether students attend school remotely or in person.  Although we monitored attendance during the September, this period was defined by OSPI as a grace period for families.  Beginning on Monday, October 5th, we returned to more regular patterns and expectations for student attendance.  Our teachers are taking attendance for each of the three synchronous instructional blocks in our current schedule. These blocks begin at 9:15am, 10:45am, and 12:45pm each day.


    Your child will be marked present, absent, tardy and/or “left early” for each instructional period/block. Absences, tardies and “left early” will be marked as excused or unexcused per state and district attendance policies and past practice.


    Like we’ve always done, please email your child’s teacher and call our ABSENTEE LINE at (206) 275-5879 if your child is going to be absent, late or leave early from any of the three synchronous instructional blocks/periods. Similar to last year, our attendance secretary, Sarah Peshkin, will contact you if the reason for your child’s absence is unknown.


    For your reference and review, I have included links to the district attendance policies below.


    Thank you for your continued support with helping us to keep our students and their learning the priority here in MISD. Attendance matters!

    Assessments during Red Remote Learning

    During these first several weeks of school, and periodically throughout the school year, teachers engage students in various assessment activities.  These serve several purposes, including monitoring students’ learning and discovering any learning gaps.  While students are learning remotely, it is important for parents to support the assessment process -- mainly by not supporting students or helping them during an assessment.  When students get help in an assessment (a quiz, a test, or an assessment assignment), our teachers don’t get a full picture of what they need next as learners.  Thanks for letting your child show what they know -- and what they don’t know -- during assessments.  This will help them learn!



    Curbside Library Book Pick-Up Now Available

    Great news, Northwood families: you can now check out books for your student from our amazing school library. Pick-up will occur on Wednesdays from 9 am - 2:30 pm.

    Interested? Follow These Easy Steps!

    ●      Click here to search the Northwood Library online catalog, where you will be able to browse all of the library books available for curbside pick-up.

    ●      Once you've made your book selection(s), fill out this Book Request Form by Monday at 3 pm. Limit 5 books per student. (Any book requests received after this time, will be filled for the following week.

    ●      Look for an email from Librarian Molly Harnish on Tuesday to confirm that your books are ready.

    ●      Come to curbside library book pick-up on Wednesdays, 9 am - 2:30 pm. Pickup is at the back of the school, in the bus loop, at 40th and 88th Streets. The book pick-up table will be placed at the entrance closest to the Commons Area. You can come by car, bike or walking.

    ●      Your books will be in a labeled bundle or bag sorted by grade and alphabetically by last name.

    ●      An empty book tub will be available for book returns.

    ●      Please maintain all safety guidelines: wear a mask, socially distance from other visitors, and make way for new visitors once you've collected your books.

    If you have any questions, please email Miss Harnish at molly.harnish@mercerislandschools.org. Happy Reading!

    Fall Festival Parties - October 31

    At Northwood, we have been building a tradition of a school-wide Fall Festival through common activities and classroom parties on or near October 31. This year, the Fall Festival will look different as we adjust to ways to celebrate remotely and stay safe and healthy.  In collaboration with the Northwood PTA and the school Cabinet leaders, Northwood is exploring ways to engage in a remote version of a Fall Festival classroom party.  In consideration of all our families and their diverse needs, our goal is to keep any fall festival plans low-key.  As plans develop, teachers will coordinate with their Room Parents regarding the schedule and plan for their classrooms.  Please watch for additional information.


    Specialist Opportunities

    Our team of Specialists have been working alongside our classroom teachers, supporting learners in the general education environment as well as providing asynchronous video lessons that your child can access during the afternoon learning block.  Although the specialist lessons are not assigned to a specific day by content, some families have found it helpful to create a home-based schedule for these lessons, creating a routine that works for their families (e.g., PE on Tuesday, Art on Wednesday, etc.)  We hope your children are enjoying these lessons as part of their school day.


    Orange Learning Plan

    As shared by Superintendent Colosky in her recent message, Sept. 29 Update on School Opening Plan, we are moving toward providing our youngest and most vulnerable students with in-person instruction.  We will begin with our Kindergarten learners on October 19 and plan to move forward with 1st grade learners within the following weeks.  Additionally, we will continue to prioritize for in-person learning students with significant support needs through their IEPs; parents will receive information specific to their child through their case manager.  The Mercer Island Elementary Principals have created a resource page and video to provide additional information to families as our plans continue to develop: Elementary Orange Plan 2020 Information  We will host a parent webinar on 10/14 at 5:00pm.  The webinar link will be published soon.


    Thanks to the PTA Volunteers

    Many thanks to the Northwood PTA and volunteers who helped put together our students’ Remote Learning Kits at the start of the year.  The hard work of this small and mighty group allowed us to have learning kits ready to go at the start of the school year.  We appreciate your efforts and your partnership!


    Upcoming Events

    • 10/9 - Half-Day for Students; School ends at 12:15pm (no synchronous or asynchronous instruction during this afternoon)
    • 10/14 - Kindergarten & 1st Grade In-Person Learning - Parent Webinar, 5:00-6:00pm (link to be published soon)
    • 10/19 - Start date for Kindergarten and ECSE in-person learning (Orange Plan)
    • 10/19-10/23 - Taproot Theater Company’s Virtual Assembly: Bullying Prevention Video available - see your child’s Week-at-a-Glance schedule for link and to view
    • 10/31 - Fall Festival class celebration - see teacher communications



    Aimee Batliner-Gillette

    Principal | Northwood Elementary School


    Nondiscrimination Notification

    The Mercer Island 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, marital status, 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.

Last Modified on November 3, 2020