The Northshore School District held its state of the schools address last month and featured a “breakfast club” of district high schoolers who shared ideas to improve local schools.
District Superintendent Michelle Reid hosted the event and updated the audience on the district’s growth plans to innovate during the upcoming year.
Audrey Tacey from North Creek High School, Leon Johnson from Bothell High School, Alex Zhou from Inglemoor High School and Megan Rogers and Esh Sathiyamoorthy from Woodinville High School joined Reid on stage to form the breakfast club and speak on how the district can innovate and provide equity to all its students.
“We have to think of innovation as that which we don’t know yet and have (our students) prepared for that,” Reid said. “The fact that we’re sitting here together this morning reviewing our work and ready to launch into the future, together all things are possible.”
The five students were chosen from Reid’s numerous visits to district schools, where she holds breakfast club meetings with randomly chosen students of all ages. Reid said she’ll have met with close to 1,000 students by the end of the school year.
“Our goal as a district and community is to maintain that (intimate, small town) feel, even as we exponentially grow,” she said. “That’s a challenge not many communities in our country have honestly achieved. I believe though, we can.”
According to Reid, the district currently serves more than 20,000 students with different 94 home languages and ranks in the top 30 U.S. school districts for national board certified teachers. The district welcomed 700 new students into its schools this year and added 39 new certified teachers between Jan. 17 and Jan. 24.
Reid focused the breakfast club meeting on the district’s future growth and asked the club how to prepare local students for future jobs that may not even exist yet.
“What I love about this district is that it’s not only instilling us with content that is relevant for right now,” Rogers said, “but doing so in a way that instills those essential characteristics such as adaptability and creativity.”
“I think something that’s really important is just that we give every single student in the district exposure to every field,” Sathiyamoorthy added, regarding innovation in the district. “I think this is not only important in high school, where it’s evident that students go to strictly different classes, but also in elementary school where you’re sitting in one classroom or the whole day.”
Reid went on to outline the various ways the district hopes to innovate its services in the future, including supporting the schools’ growth in diversity and continuing its focus on equity.
“It creates a stronger fabric in our community when we can come together from different perspectives,” she said. “I think the idea of group think really is shattered when you have multiple perspectives and that’s what, in some ways, has been missing nationwide.”
The district recently broke down entry barriers for its Highly Capable Program. Previously, program testing only took place on Saturdays through a nomination process.
“We can’t continue a practice that doesn’t feel equitable,” Reid said.
This year, the district is screening every student in kindergarten through eighth grade, which has increased their number of qualified students. According to the district’s reports, 40 percent of its low-income students and 33 percent of its Hispanic students are moving forward to assessment.
“I really like how the district chose to spread the testing to get into higher programs to everyone,” Zhou said. “That’s led to new opportunities for a lot of people who would have never considered it in the first place.”
Reid added that at least twice as many kids have enrolled in the district’s music programs after they eliminated program fees, removing a barrier for low-income families.
“Our work will touch the lives of a generation of next families in this country and we believe that we’re going to change the tenor and tone of our country just coming from Northshore,” she said.