Spring update from Fred Woods, San Juan Island School District superintendent

Posted May 6, 2022 at 3:26 pm by

The month of May is always a busy time in your school dis­trict. Each of your schools admin­is­ter the State exams, orga­nize year end field trips, and work dili­gent­ly to keep all stu­dents focused as the sun and warmth return. This is an excit­ing time of year as schools move toward that last day in June while at the same time prepar­ing for the fall of 2022 opening.

We have learned much over the last two years. The COVID pan­dem­ic cre­at­ed pres­sures not seen before and the stu­dents and staff in this dis­trict showed resilien­cy in the face of these chal­lenges. I can assure you this great staff is com­mit­ted to serv­ing these chil­dren and sup­port­ing their aca­d­e­m­ic, social, and emo­tion­al growth.

As we end one year and pre­pare for the next, there is some impor­tant infor­ma­tion that all of us in this com­mu­ni­ty should know.

This past week, May 2–6, was Pro­fes­sion­al Edu­ca­tors Appre­ci­a­tion week. The entire staff, no mat­ter the role or respon­si­bil­i­ty, are inte­gral parts of an effi­cient and excel­lent school sys­tem. Please take the time to reach out and thank them for the work they do.

We were going to have to extend the school year by two days due to the clo­sure of school because of the town water cri­sis in Jan­u­ary. State law dic­tates 180 days of school. We sub­mit­ted an emer­gency waiv­er, and it has been approved by the Office of the Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion. This means that school will end on Fri­day, June 17 as shown on our calendar.

San Juan Island School Dis­trict will rec­og­nize sev­en peo­ple at the May school board meet­ing who have cho­sen to retire. We can­not thank them enough for their ser­vice to our schools and this community.

One of those who retired is Maude Cum­ming. After many years as the exec­u­tive assis­tant to the super­in­ten­dent, and in many ways the face of con­sis­ten­cy in San Juan Island Schools, she has made the deci­sion to retire. Her last day in the office was April 29.

We have hired Diana Fearn as the new exec­u­tive assis­tant to the super­in­ten­dent. Orig­i­nal­ly from Fri­day Har­bor, Diana has spent the past 19 years liv­ing and work­ing abroad. For the past sev­en years she has been work­ing in Stu­dent Ser­vices at North Island Col­lege on Van­cou­ver Island. Before that she lived and worked in var­i­ous edu­ca­tion­al set­tings in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Japan, and Cana­da. Diana has a Bach­e­lor of Edu­ca­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vic­to­ria and a Bach­e­lor of Arts in Eco­nom­ics from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puget Sound.

In late Feb­ru­ary, cur­rent high school prin­ci­pal, Mar­tin Yablonovsky, made the deci­sion to move on in his career. We wish the very best to our out­go­ing prin­ci­pal and thank him for his hard work here dur­ing the pandemic.

We are very excit­ed to intro­duce Andrea Hill­man as our new prin­ci­pal. Andrea, cur­rent­ly a prin­ci­pal in the Edmonds School Dis­trict, is a 20-plus-year edu­ca­tion­al pro­fes­sion­al with over 15 years admin­is­tra­tive expe­ri­ence at the sec­ondary and ele­men­tary lev­els and over nine years teach­ing expe­ri­ence at the sec­ondary lev­el. Ms. Hill­man has served in schools with as few as 100 stu­dents and as many as 1,600, with staffs of 20–100. She began her career by stu­dent teach­ing in an Inter­na­tion­al School in Mal­lor­ca, Spain. She also earned her first master’s degree at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sala­man­ca, Spain, and is a flu­ent Span­ish speak­er. Ms. Hill­man has man­aged school oper­at­ing bud­gets up to over $1 mil­lion and has suc­cess­ful­ly sought grants for stu­dents when pub­lic school allo­ca­tions have fall­en short, all while fos­ter­ing pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ty relationships.

Ms. Hill­man believes in the trans­for­ma­tion­al pow­er of edu­ca­tion. She believes that the para­mount duty of schools, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the cur­rent atmos­phere, is to fos­ter a sense of com­mu­ni­ty and belong­ing after a pro­longed school inter­rup­tion due to COVID and to pro­duce grad­u­ates who love learn­ing and dis­course and have the sta­mi­na and con­fi­dence to fos­ter suc­cess in what­ev­er path­way they choose.

There will be oth­er new faces when we return in Sep­tem­ber, and we hope to high­light them all in the future and wel­come them to our com­mu­ni­ty. Even though there appears to be a return to nor­mal­cy in our schools, we do rec­og­nize that COVID still exists, and we must remain ded­i­cat­ed to safe­ty mea­sures. The Depart­ment of Health guide­lines pro­vide clar­i­ty and direc­tion for the dis­trict. We will stay dili­gent as we move toward the end of the year.

It is impor­tant to note as we pre­pare for the 2022–23 school year that the State Depart­ment of Health vot­ed to not man­date COVID vac­cines for all stu­dents next year.

What is impor­tant at this very moment are the events sched­uled in the last month of school. Stu­dents are excit­ed. Grad­u­a­tion is just around the cor­ner. Our seniors are about to embark on the next stage of life. We have grad­u­ates who will be attend­ing col­lege next year as well as oth­ers who have cho­sen to enter the work­force. Either choice is right. The dis­trict remains com­mit­ted to prepar­ing stu­dents for col­lege or career. And although the pres­sures of COVID did cre­ate new con­cerns, we are all com­mit­ted to ensur­ing stu­dents receive the best.

Fred Woods

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