Send us kudos about colleagues in new ‘Everyday Heroes’ feature blog post

Everyday Hero red apple outline

Think about the last time one of your colleagues made a difference in the life of a student, a parent, a volunteer, a fellow staff member, or a community member. This happens every day in our district in every school and in every department/support building.

We want to share your stories among all employees in this staff blog as an ongoing regular blog post to celebrate our OSD Everyday Heroes!

Please take a few moments to give a shout-out to an employee in any school or department who has done something you feel is deserving of encouragement and praise.

The process is simple:

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write Everyday Heroes in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

We can’t wait to hear about all of our Everyday Heroes, because we know that every day our bus drivers, child nutrition staff, custodial employees, teachers, paraeducators, school and district office staff, and others are doing amazing work on behalf of students.

School board invites input on policy review process

The Olympia School Board is shown during discussion about policy at the January 8 school board meetingOne of the Olympia School Board’s responsibilities is to establish policies, which are essentially governing documents by which the Olympia School District operates.

Last summer, the board set a goal to review all district policies, starting with the 1000 series that pertain to the Olympia School District Board of Directors. The board completed that series in fall and is currently reviewing the 4000 series: Community Relations.

The board invites students, employees and the community to share feedback, including questions or comments, about the policies. Input will be shared with the school board as it moves forward with the policy review process.

Policies currently being reviewed are posted on a new “Board Policy Review” Web page on the Olympia School District website. A dedicated email address has also been set up for the community to comment or ask questions about the policies:

The board held a first reading on five board policies during the January 8, 2018 board meeting. These five policies will return for a second reading and possible action at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on January 22, 2018. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School. The five policies currently being reviewed are:

  • 4110 Citizen Advisory Committees and Task Forces
  • 4310 District Relationships with Law Enforcement and Other Governmental Agencies
  • 4315 Release of Information Concerning Sexual and Kidnapping Offenders
  • 4320 Cooperative Programs with Other Districts and Public Agencies
  • 4400 Election Activities

There are several ways to provide input in this board policy review process:

  • The public is welcome to comment about policies or other topics of interest during Olympia School Board meetings. Time is set aside for public comment near the start of open board meetings, and those who wish to speak are asked to sign in on a form placed near the entrance to each meeting.
  • Email comments or questions about the policies being reviewed to the new district email address especially created for this current board policy review process. The following email is monitored daily, and questions will be answered in the order they are received:
  • Contact Pam Barker, executive assistant to the Olympia School District Superintendent, at 360-596-6114.
  • Email or call Olympia School Board members directly. Contact information for board members, including their phone numbers and email addresses, is featured with their photos on the Board of Directors Web page.

Once the school board has finished reviewing the 4000 series, it will move to a new series. The district’s complete compilation of policies include:

  • 1000 series – Board of Directors
  • 2000 series – Instruction
  • 3000 series – Students
  • 4000 series – Community Relations
  • 5000 series – Personnel
  • 6000 series – Management Support

OSDEF continues to accept educator grant applications

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneathThe Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) invites educators to continue to submit grant applications for the 2017-18 school year. Applications may be submitted at any time of the year and will be considered until the funds are depleted.

Grant requests will be evaluated based on commitment to the OSDEF mission: to provide programs and services to students and partners with teachers to enhance educational success and promote learning for all students of the Olympia School District.

Grant categories, guidelines and applications are available online on the OSDEF website. Questions may be directed to Bev Sperry in the OSDEF office. She can be reached by email at or at the office phone, (360) 596-6110.

Department of Retirement Systems offers webinars January 16-18

The Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) Education & Outreach team will provide the following webinars January 16–18:
January 16
  • 8:30 a.m. – Returning to work after retirement
  • 11 a.m. – Getting ready for retirement (within two years)
  • 1 p.m. – Distributions from Plan 3 (PERS, SERS, TRS)

January 17

  • 8:30 a.m. – Plan 2 (PERS, SERS, TRS)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Plan 3 (PERS, SERS, TRS)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Applying for retirement (a tutorial for the online application)

January 18

  • 8:30 a.m. – Benefit payment options
  • 2:30 p.m. – Washington State Deferred Compensation Program
  • 4 p.m. – Plan choice (PERS, SERS, TRS)
Additional webinars are offered on the online  DRS webinar schedule. If you plan to attend a webinar, we recommend you join about 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar so you can check your connection and sound.  If you are having connection or sound problems, please call (360) 664-7005.
DRS updates the webinar schedule every 3-4 months.  Select this link if you would like to be notified when the DRS webinar schedule page is updated. If unable to attend any of the webinars listed, many of the topics are covered by viewing an online seminar video.
This is also a reminder that some members of PERS, SERS and TRS Plan 2 have an option to transfer to Plan 3 this month (January).  If you have the option to transfer, we encourage you to attend the Plan Choice webinar on Thursday, January 18 at 4 pm.

Learn more about who qualifies to transfer from Plan 2 to Plan 3 on the DRS website.
The Department of Retirement Systems Education and Outreach also provides one-on-one assistance at its agency in Tumwater.  Employees may visit the office and meet with a Retirement Specialist anytime during normal business hours.  No appointment is necessary — employees may just walk in.  If unable to visit the office, please call 1-800-547-6657 (the agency Skypes if requested).  If an employee is within a year of retirement, DRS recommends they request an Official Benefit Estimate before they meet with a Specialist.  This can be done online at or by phone.

Safety Tip of the Week: File Cabinet Safety

File Cabinet with top drawer open showing file folders

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about File Cabinet Safety.

File cabinets are a very common feature in most school offices and classrooms. These sometimes large pieces of furniture can store massive amounts of information and are useful for organizing papers. However, file cabinets can be a source of workplace injuries. Taking precautions with file cabinets in your classroom or work space can help prevent many hazards.

Keeping a file cabinet properly organized will help prevent injuries and accidents. When possible, the drawers should be equal in weight. If they are uneven, the heavier items should be placed at the bottom. A heavy top drawer can cause the entire cabinet to tip over when the drawer is pulled out. If items other than files are being stored in the cabinet, make sure that they fit neatly into the drawer. Items that stick up past the top of the drawer can get caught in the cabinet, making it difficult to open.

File cabinets should be placed out of the path of traffic when possible. This will help to reduce injuries caused by running into an open drawer. Placing the file cabinet up against a wall will also help to keep it stable and sturdy. When installing new file cabinets, always make sure that they are level so that they aren’t in danger of tipping over. A file cabinet that tips forward may have the added danger of drawers that slide open on their own.

Simple maintenance can keep the cabinet in top working order. Check periodically for rough edges. Wood cabinets may cause splinters and metal cabinets can get sharp edges or jagged corners. Sand or file down these rough spots as soon as you notice them. Make sure that the cabinet always has a sturdy handle on it. If the handle is loose or falls off, it should be repaired right away. Closing a drawer without the use of a handle can result in injury from pinched fingers. You should also take the time to reorganize the file cabinet periodically. It may be helpful to send archived items to the Knox building instead of taking up space in the file cabinets.

If you have questions regarding archiving you may reach out to Rob Hardy, Digital Records Supervisor at the Knox Administrative building at 360-596-8570.

4th Annual Technology Fair is Saturday, January 20

Student winning graphic for 4th Annual Tech Fair with words Connect Collaborate and Create

Mark your calendars for the 4th annual OSD Technology Fair on Saturday, January 20 at Capital High School.

The free event, which is open to all students, families and the community, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Capital High Commons, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

This year’s theme is “Connect, Collaborate, Create.” School booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students and teachers from all levels will showcase how technology is integrated in classrooms and curricula. Student technology presentations will take place from 1 to 3 p.m.

This year’s winning logo was designed by Catherine Savel, a 9th grade Olympia High student in Kelly Boyer’s class. Her submission was selected by a committee from approximately 150 submissions from elementary through high school. A slideshow of all entries will be shown at the fair.

Each school also has the opportunity to enter a student team in a Technology Challenge. The secret challenge will be revealed the morning of the Technology Fair.

Teams will work all morning to create a presentation and be evaluated in the afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. by a panel of local judges. Elementary and secondary students will respond to the same challenge question but be judged separately.

Several OSD departments will be on hand to demonstrate a variety of technology innovations across the district. We hope to see you there!

January is School Board Recognition Month

School Board Recognition Month ProclamationEvery January school districts across the state and nation honor their board of directors during School Board Recognition Month.

The Olympia School District will recognize its school board with a special program near the start of the meeting on Monday, January 22. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School.

During the program, Superintendent Patrick Murphy will read a proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee designating January as School Board Recognition Month in Washington state. This marks the 23rd year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

The proclamation reads in part that school directors “play a crucial role in promoting student learning and achievement by creating a vision, establishing policies and budgets, and setting clear standards of accountability for all involved.” It also states that school directors “are directly accountable to the citizens in their districts and regions, serving as a vital link between members of the community and their schools.”

There is still time to join the “Hello Dolly” chorus or help with set construction

There is still time to join the chorus for this year’s OSD Players musical, Hello Dolly. The chorus is just beginning to learn music. Those interested may come to rehearsal at Washington Middle School on Monday, January 8, also from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Additionally, help is needed with set construction. Those interested are encouraged to mark their calendars for Sunday, January 28, Saturday, February 3 and Saturday, February 10 to assist with building and painting sets at Capital High School. Drop by the high school any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

This annual OSD Players performance supports the Olympia School District Education Foundation grants program, providing thousands of dollars to teachers and other staff to pay for supplies or projects that aren’t covered by school district funds.

Performances of Hello Dolly are scheduled at 7 p.m. on February 22, 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. on February 24 and 25 at Olympia High School.

Middle and high school teachers invited to apply for $250 mini-grants by January 12

The Thurston County School Retirees’ Association is accepting applications for its $250 middle and high school teacher mini-grants for the 2017-18 school year.

The deadline to apply for the mini-grants is January 12, 2018. The grants are designed “to provide an opportunity for  teachers to acquire materials or provide experiences for their students above and beyond what is paid for with district funds. The materials or experiences should supplement and enhance building or district goals.”

View and download a copy of this year’s application. The form is also available at

Thurston County School Retirees’ Association is a chapter of the Washington State School Retirees’ Association.

Olympia Garden Club invites educators to apply for $500 grant opportunity

The Olympia Garden Club is offering a grant of up to $500 to educators interested in enhancing their horticultural or environmental science curriculum.

Elementary and middle school teachers, as well as high school horticulture teachers (ecology, dendrology, floriculture, landscape design/management, environmental science or related subject), are encouraged to apply. Grants will be awarded after applications are reviewed.

Application deadline is March 30, 2018.

View the grant application