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

Posted December 5, 2022 at 1:46 pm by

Dear Fri­day Har­bor community,

I have writ­ten pre­vi­ous­ly that I love the hol­i­day sea­son. The bright lights, fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions, and amaz­ing cook­ies are some of the tra­di­tions of the sea­son I enjoy most. Sure, the tem­per­a­ture might be drop­ping, but there is still so much to cel­e­brate. This is espe­cial­ly true in your schools.

The last two years we mod­i­fied sched­ules, wore masks, and close­ly mon­i­tored COVID out­breaks. This Sep­tem­ber, how­ev­er, stu­dents returned to a school that resem­bled what life was like pre-pan­dem­ic. Hall­ways were full, col­lab­o­ra­tive projects in class­rooms resumed, and cus­tom­ary events were restored. High school stu­dents expe­ri­enced the home­com­ing parade and dance, the mid­dle school­ers hiked on Orcas, and the ele­men­tary school host­ed a Day of the Dead cel­e­bra­tion as well as a veteran’s assembly.

The most excit­ing news is that the boys soc­cer team brought home the class 2B state cham­pi­onship — the only oth­er title in school his­to­ry was in 1986. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Coach Brett Paull and all the athletes.

There are so many suc­cess sto­ries just from the first three months of school I could share that warm the heart. We real­ly do have an amaz­ing school com­mu­ni­ty. This is not to say, how­ev­er, that we haven’t expe­ri­enced our share of dif­fi­cul­ties. COVID remains a con­cern and the dis­trict con­tin­ues to fol­low guid­ance giv­en by the state and local Depart­ments of Health. In addi­tion to COVID, the reg­u­lar viral sea­son is upon us caus­ing high­er than nor­mal absence rates. Although we want all stu­dents here every day, stay­ing home when sick is a good deci­sion. We appre­ci­ate the fam­i­lies sup­port­ing us in this man­ner and the flex­i­bil­i­ty of teach­ers work­ing with stu­dents who can­not attend.

No mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion we are fac­ing, the dis­trict is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­al improve­ment. Stu­dents deserve it. To that end, this month we begin cre­at­ing action plans for the two goals in our strate­gic plan.

Those goals are:

  1. With­in three to five years, the San Juan Island School Dis­trict will reduce achieve­ment gaps by engag­ing stu­dents, fam­i­lies, staff, and the school com­mu­ni­ty to iden­ti­fy bar­ri­ers and devel­op solutions.
  1. With­in the next five years, the San Juan Island School Dis­trict will cre­ate col­lege and career path­ways through a robust STEAM pro­gram by expand­ing career tech­ni­cal voca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties and the arts.

In addi­tion, your school board mem­bers have been active­ly col­lab­o­rat­ing with direc­tors from the oth­er dis­tricts in the San Juan Islands. The goal is to speak as one voice to our leg­is­la­tors. The dis­par­i­ty in state fund­ing allo­ca­tion between larg­er school dis­tricts and those that are small­er lim­its what we can offer con­sis­tent­ly. Your local direc­tors rec­og­nize that we live in a very high cost of liv­ing region and to attract, retain, and sup­port our staff, par­i­ty is a neces­si­ty. For more infor­ma­tion and to learn how any­one can help, vis­it the Stand Togeth­er With Our Island Schools web­site.

One impor­tant change and con­tri­bu­tion that has been rec­og­nized this fall is the inclu­sion of stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the school board. We want to increase stu­dent voice in our deci­sions. I want to per­son­al­ly thank Aaron Oroz­co and Rylee Drew for pro­vid­ing a report each month on the state of the school and for giv­ing input on deci­sions that are made.

The real­i­ty is we respect the par­tic­i­pa­tion and voice of every­one. San Juan Island School Dis­trict serves Fri­day Har­bor. We hope to make sure that every­one belongs.

Who we are and what we believe in can be summed up in our cul­tur­al val­ues as list­ed on the dis­trict web­site. They are:

  • Engage the Com­mu­ni­ty — I will com­mit to engag­ing oth­ers in the process, and I will be an active par­tic­i­pant in the school community.
  • Advo­ca­cy — I will cre­ate safe and pro­duc­tive envi­ron­ments that embrace self-advocacy.
  • Cul­ti­vate Equi­ty — I rec­og­nize, val­ue and respect indi­vid­ual needs, iden­ti­ties, cul­tures, inter­ests, and strengths of all.
  • Pro­vide Oppor­tu­ni­ties — I will pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to help you be suc­cess­ful on your path.
  • Cul­ti­vate Glob­al Aware­ness — I will keep cur­rent on glob­al issues and inte­grate these top­ics into com­mu­ni­ty con­ver­sa­tions and activities.

It is impor­tant to notice that the def­i­n­i­tion of each val­ue state­ment begins with the word I. We all, no mat­ter our role in this great com­mu­ni­ty, play a part in mak­ing this school sys­tem the best.

There is no doubt that togeth­er we can con­tin­ue to accom­plish great things, even if there are a few bumps in the road. In my third year as your school super­in­ten­dent, I remain proud of the work we do. And although my door is always open for con­ver­sa­tion, I will make sure to send out an update four times a year with the next one com­ing by the first of March. Until then, enjoy your hol­i­day with fam­i­ly and trust that in the new year we, as a dis­trict, will con­tin­ue the work to ensure a qual­i­ty education.

Fred Woods
San Juan Island School District

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