NSD holds third annual State of Our Schools event

Dr. Michelle Reid updates community on what the district has accomplished over the past year and what’s on the horizon.

Northshore School District (NSD) held its third annual State of Our Schools event on Feb. 5.

Hosted at Northshore Community Church in Kirkland, the event addressed more than 180 attendees — including district leaders, government officials, community partners and students — on what NSD has accomplished in the past year and what initiatives the district is looking toward in the coming year.

After poetry performances from three NSD students, NSD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid opened the event by asking the audience what they are grateful for.

“So as we center ourselves today, I’d like you to think about kind of where we’ve been and where we’re going,” she said.

In its 61st year, Reid is proud of the equity and diversity work NSD has done and the path it is creating for the future.

“As we stay grounded in our equity work and as we continue to embrace equitable practices across Northshore, more opportunities are created that align with our commitment to embracing all who are part of our community. This is a time, as it is always the time, to spread awareness and gain knowledge about the stories of each of our communities within our community, both nationwide and locally,” she said. “As we learn to value, we then appreciate more deeply our own diverse Northshore community. In our house, we’re going to continue to celebrate the differences between and among us and respect every individual who is part of it. It is a time to spread awareness this morning about our past, our present and develop our skills to advocate for a collective future that is rooted in our humanity.”

Looking at the district as a whole, there are 33 schools. According to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the district houses 23,577 students. The current diversity statistics in the district include 0.3 percent Native American, 20.3 percent Asian, 0.2 percent Pacific Islanders, 2.1 percent African American, 12.4 percent Latinx, 8.8 percent two or more races and 56.1 percent white. The district has a 14.8 percent population on free or reduced-price meals and 14 percent in special education.

Reid highlighted the work of the district’s universal screening since its beginning in 2017.

“We had 64 students who were traditionally underrepresented — these might be students who have a special language, students on a 504 plan or on an IEP — but students who need perhaps special support who weren’t previously having an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to be in a highly capable program,” she said. “We now have grown six times the number of our traditionally under-represented students and this year, we have 390 students who either have an IEP or on a second language, perhaps are in a low-income situation or a 504 plan, who now are able to access the highly capable program. That is equity in action.”

An IEP is an individualized education program and a 504 plan is an education plan that ensures students with disabilities receive accommodations for academic success and access to the learning environment.

Reid highlighted the district’s examples of innovation — introducing Science Olympiad at the elementary level, creating a new choice high school and implementing a future problem solvers program.

Matthew Bohannan, a future problem solvers teacher at Leotta Middle School, said he’s enjoyed seeing the program grow.

“Students are charged with creating challenges of the future and then also creating these very nuanced, cutting-edge solutions for those problems,” he said. “And that’s where I really see the innovation that we’re asking to, to really engineer a future that’s better than the one we have now.”

Reid highlighted the district’s examples of inspiration. One example included an Inglemoor High School (IHS) vision-impaired runner, Verada Ellett, who was a state champion this past season.

Richard Bennett, a coach at IHS, said the team embraced Ellett’s goals.

“Our team embraced her goals, cheering as loud as they could, knowing she could hear them. That was a big thing. She told me and her mom that this was a tremendous motivation for her. Athletes and fans from other teams were so impressed to see her competing out there and so confident, with only this slender rope between herself and one of our coaches that they felt really moved to cheer for,” he said.

Reid also highlighted with the NSD community’s kindness through Northshore Schools Foundation.

“Our school district is indeed grateful for the many contributions of our schools foundation. They fund scholarships for 15 students who place in regional and national competitions. They’ve supported our national board teacher certification program. They support class fees and emergency funds and innovation and inspiration for 42 classrooms across 21 schools,” she said.

Reid closed the event by saying the district is a community of doers.

“I’m looking forward to continuing this journey serving and supporting you, our community, our students, as we give our best each and every day in ways small and large that compound and create an energy that is going to change this world,” she said.