• October 18, 2022

    Dear Northwood Families and Caretakers,

    Our year has started off with energy, excitement, and a renewed sense of learning.  I have loved getting to know the students and our Northwood families.  I am already seeing tons of connections in the classrooms, on the playground, and in shared spaces at school.  Your children bring so much joy to Northwood and I am excited to see them and chat with them every day.  I feel lucky to get to interact with all of these amazing humans!  I would love to give a special shout-out to our PTA!  They have planned some wonderful fall connection activities and have several more planned in the coming weeks.  If you are able, please support the PTA Give a Hoot Campaign.  The PTA enhances Northwood with so many enriching supports.  We are so lucky to have them!!  I am so grateful to be leading Northwood this year.  I have included some reminders below. 


    The bathrooms at Northwood have become a huge problem.  Students are urinating on the floor, stuffing school items in the toilets, and making huge messes with the water.  It is certainly not safe, respectful or responsible. We have monitored and proactively educated the children.  Now it is your turn to work with your child to help end this behavior.  Here are some suggestions of ways to support your child in treating all spaces at Northwood with respect. 

    1. Have a conversation with your child about respecting the school spaces and the people who clean our spaces regularly.

    2. Add cleaning the bathroom to your student’s chore list.  This will help them appreciate the job.  There is tons of research on the benefits and impact of chores.

    3. Let them know that we have cameras outside the bathrooms in the hallways at school (not in the bathrooms). If they choose to make unfortunate choices in the bathrooms, they will need to use the bathroom outside of the health room. They will also be assigned Northwood clean-up duty to help make up for the extra time that our custodial staff has spent cleaning bathrooms.

    I am hopeful that continued conversations at home and school will support positive behavior choices in the bathrooms going forward.  


    I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the parent volunteers who have supported our back-to-school social, picture day, and the welcome-back coffee events.  It takes an amazing village to keep Northwood fun and connected!  Thank you to everyone who contributed time and talent to those experiences!!

    Less than Five Minutes with a HUGE Impact:

    The teachers at Northwood work very hard to support all students.  Often in education, we hear about negative experiences or thoughts.  If you are looking for a brief and free way to positively impact a teacher, please consider sending  an email that highlights a positive that your student has experienced this year.  Teachers and staff are loving, caring humans and can live on a positive email for days!  Positive emails do not come very often because as parents we are often quiet when things are going well.  I challenge you to raise the positive volume for our teachers and staff who adore your kiddos.  Free and impactful.

    Dropping Things Off for Students at School

    Please be mindful when dropping off forgotten items at school.  Natural consequences for forgotten jackets, library books, and homework are an important part of learning and growing.  With nearly 400 students on campus, the interruption to classroom learning time is not insignificant. 

    Fall Festival:

    At Northwood, we have built a tradition of a school-wide Fall Festival through common activities and classroom parties on or near October 31. PTA Leaders and I have been collaborating on the Fall Festival so that we can have tons of fun, while also staying safe and healthy.  As plans develop, teachers will coordinate with their Room Parents regarding the schedule and plan for their classrooms.  Please remember that fall festival is the classroom party. Please do not schedule additional activities outside of the classroom fall festival time.

    Costume Parameters:

    Students are encouraged to bring their costumes for the fall festival.  

    There are some costume parameters in order to keep everyone safe both physically and emotionally:

    1. No masks are to be worn at school.

    2. No weapons are to be brought to school. (real or fake)

    3. Culture is not a costume.  Please refrain from having your child dress up in a costume that could be deemed disrespectful to a culture, race, ethnicity, or religion. (Video link: My Culture is Not a Costume)

    4. Please keep face paint at home. 

    5. Please make sure that all footwear is safe for outside, inside, PE and rain.

    6. If your child brings a costume that does not follow the safety guidelines then we will ask them to pack it away and bring it home.

    Lost & Found

    Please label your children’s clothing, water bottles and lunch items. If your child’s name is on the item, we return it. If there is no name, it sits in the lost and found and often is never rescued.  Students are encouraged to check the lost and found before or after school or can ask permission from their classroom teacher to check it during the school day.

    Northwood Parent Advisory Council

    The Northwood Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is seeking members for the 2022-23 school year.  The purpose of the PAC is to inform, encourage, and provide opportunities for parents and community members to be involved in the school’s instructional program and improvement processes.  By definition, the PAC is an informational and advisory body.  

    For more information about the PAC, scheduled meeting dates and times, and to access the online application to be a parent representative on the PAC, please see the Parent Advisory Council page on the Northwood website.  

    Join PTA and Ask:

    Thank you to the Northwood PTA for their support of teachers, staff, students and families. A large part of PTA is building community and helping all those at Northwood feel seen and heard, in addition to other things such as learning support, enrichment and staff appreciation (to name a few). If you would like to support PTA’s work, there are several ways to do so: 

    • Join and Become a PTA Member - PTA Membership helps build a village to support your child and connect to others at Northwood, or even district-wide - teachers, staff, community leaders and more! PTA members gain access to all the school directory, and free/reduced admission to Parent Edge Events, as well as exclusive discounts via the WA State PTA. Individual PTA Membership costs $25, and a Family Membership is $35. (Scholarships are always available. Please reach out to School Counselor, Laura Falsgraf -  laura.falsgraf@mercerislandschools.org). 

    • Donate to the PTA Give a Hoot Campaign! - These are the final weeks of Northwood PTA’s Give a Hoot Campaign, our PTA’s single, annual fundraising campaign. Through your generous donations, PTA is able to provide all events and programs (with the exception of BINGO night) free to all families. When PTA charges for food or materials at an event, all items are sold at cost. Your donations help PTA fund supplemental learning materials, grants for teachers to implement new learning initiatives, enrichment programs and events, and staff appreciation programs. Learn more about Where Your PTA Dollars Go and How MI Schools are Funded

    A contribution of $200 per child covers the support each student receives from PTA, however every donation matters and shows that you “give a hoot” about the success of Northwood Elementary School! Currently, we are at 38% participation -  help us reach our goal of 100% participation by Oct 31st, when our GIve a Hoot Campaign closes. Click Here to Donate!

    To learn more about the various programs and events provided by Northwood PTA, visit Northwoodowlspta.org or reach out to PTA President, Cathy Chen - President@northwoodowlspta.org

    Fifth Grade Experience:

    You are invited to a 5th-grade family forum on October 25 from 5:15-6:00pm. The focus of this meeting is to review and discuss goals pertaining to our 5th-grade outdoor education experience, as well as create a collaborative committee to outline and plan this experience moving forward. In past years, our students have participated in the Islandwood program in the spring of their 5th-grade year. While there are certainly still many positives of this program and model, there are significant concerns with the Islandwood program's quality and consistency. We want to partner with our families to explore outdoor education program alternatives that provide the high-quality 5th-grade experience we expect and our students deserve. Our forum on Tuesday, October 25 is the beginning of this partnership process. 

    Details: We will meet in the Northwood Quiet Dining Space. This meeting is open to 5th-grade families, 5th-grade students, and staff and teachers supporting our 5th grade. 

    Students and Needs:

    We have almost 400 students at Northwood Elementary.  All of our students have a large number of strengths.  Every single one of our students has needs and areas of growth.  Some students need to grow in academic areas and some students have needs in social-emotional areas.  I want to ask that you extend grace to the students and children who are not part of your family.  People often assign character flaws to children who have disabilities, areas of growth  and traumatic responses.  I would ask that you take a minute to try and understand our little humans.  Please also remember that privacy laws prevent anyone at Northwood from discussing other students with you and your family.  We are doing everything to support all students, but we cannot give you the specifics.  We want everyone to be successful at Northwood.  Please trust that we are doing all of it for each and every one of these amazing small beings.

    Home Technology Devices (watches and phones):

    We have recently had an influx of students using technology devices from home to contact their families and request that parents come to school.  This is a safety issue.  If students forget their lunches or do not feel well they need to use the office and health room to communicate home.  We need to track and monitor student health and safety needs. There is a landline phone in spitting distance from every place in our building and a large number of staff members wear walkie-talkies.  Please let your children know that they ask an adult if they need support throughout the day.  

    May I also suggest the following text exchange should you be contacted:

    Text from Student: “Mom, I am hungry. Can you please run a snack to school?”

    Text from Mom: “No.  Also, I want to remind you that it is against school rules to text me during the school day.”

    Or this one:

    Text from Student: “Dad, I am hungry. Can you please run a snack to school?”

    Text from dad:  “No and I am telling Mrs. Newcomer that you are texting me.”  :)

    Per our Northwood handbook/policy: cell phones, electronic devices, headphones, electronic toys, and music listening devices—including (but not limited to): cell phones, smart watches, Nintendo DS games, and headphones are not to be used on school grounds. 

    Thank you for all of your support at home.  Have a wonderful fall and I look forward to continuing to build connections with you and our students!



    Julie Newcomer

    Principal Northwood

Last Modified on November 9, 2022