Retired teachers share memories and laughter during annual luncheon recognition

Retired teachers pose for group photo after 2nd Annual OSD Retired Educators Luncheon at Knox

What a joy it was last week to welcome retired OSD teachers to the 2nd Annual OSD Retired Educators Luncheon. This group (and many more through the years) of dedicated teachers have served thousands of students in our district, and we appreciate each and every one of them.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy welcomed the honored guests, who learned about opportunities to stay connected with the district. The former educators shared memories of their years in the Olympia School District, as well as what they enjoy most about retirement.

Avanti High School students Ainsley Austin, Josephine Mortinson and Avery Savin, members of the group “Aja,” also performed three songs for the retirees.

We look forward to continuing to see our retirees in our schools as substitutes, volunteers, or simply cheering for students during art performances, school assemblies, athletic events or other school functions.

Be sure to follow the district social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to see photos of events such as this one that occur daily in our schools.

OSD Teachers of the Year to be honored at March 26 school board meeting


OSD Elementary Teacher of the Year Lisa Escourt is honored with flowers and poses with Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Board President Frank Wilson and Madison Principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll

Congratulations to this year’s Olympia School District Teachers of the Year!

Lisa Estcourt, reading intervention specialist at Madison Elementary, is this year’s OSD Elementary Teacher of the Year. Blue Peetz, an instructor at the Freedom Farm, is this year’s OSD Secondary Teacher of the Year.

These two outstanding educators will be honored at the Monday, March 26 Olympia School Board meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Washington Middle School, 3100 Cain Rd. S.E., Olympia.

Secondary Teacher of the Year Blue Peetz holds flowers during his surprise recognition and is joined by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Board President Frank Wilson, and Olympia High Principal Matt Grant


Who is our newest Everyday Hero?

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Thank you to all who continue to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Remember to give a shout out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here is our latest honoree:

Everyday Hero
Jennifer Grones, Teacher, Special Education, Lincoln Elementary School
“Every day, Jenny has the brightest and warmest smile for students, colleagues, and families.  She is creative and kind in her work with students; pulling from years of experience to serve children and families in the best possible way. Not only is Jenny a powerful educator and advocate for students and families, but she is also a resource, a confidant, and a mentor to countless staff in our building. She is a special education teacher, who works incredibly hard to make sure the services provided to children are tailored to their social, emotional, academic, and physical needs. She is always willing to support any situation involving a child, and prior to this year, was the assigned substitute for our principal. I highly recommend Jennifer Grones as an Everyday ‘Shero’ (female for hero).  She helps to make this a place where children and families are truly celebrated and advocated for.”
Submitted by Danielle Hull

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

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 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.

Payment portal link added to all district and school Web pages

Woman is using a computer and has a notebook and pen at her side

A link to the school district’s online payment portal has been added to the box of “Useful Links” in the footer of every page on the district and all school websites.

To access the link, scroll to the bottom of any Web page. In the blue “Useful Links” section, click “Payment Portal.”

Staff who are also parents of OSD students may access the portal to pay for items such as their child’s fees or fines, as well as order transcripts, purchase school theatre tickets or make food service payments for their own or their child’s meal account. Staff who are not parents may also make food service payments, as well as purchase theatre tickets.

Safety Tip of the Week: Organizing storage closets for safety

Poster that says Think Keep This Workplace Safe and Clean

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about the importance of organizing storage closets for safety.

Organizing Storage Closets for Safety

Have you ever opened the door to a closet that cannot possibly hold one more thing or it will burst the door off its hinges?

Having everything on hand is important, but it can be overwhelming. There needs to be space for everything and a way to find it quickly. It is important to find the right kind of organizing system. We can improve safety and reduce injuries by properly organizing the storage rooms in the district. Consider the following important details when planning how to effectively arrange your classroom or workspace storage area.

Bin Storage

Utilizing storage bins and containers can transform the storage space from a cluttered mess into a streamlined storage area. Loose items such as hardware, office supplies, rolls of tapes and wire and small tools can be placed into bins. This is not just good organization, but a good safety practice as well. Small, uncontained items not kept in bins can easily fall in walking paths or cause clutter that may block things like safety equipment or exits. Therefore, always keep your smaller items in their proper containers.

Bins come in many different shapes and sizes to fit several different needs. Some bins are designed to be nested. Stacking bins vertically makes the most of the storage space. There are also shelf bins, which sit on the shelf open, allowing for easy access. These are a good choice for smaller items that are used frequently.


Shelves seem like a simple thing, but the wrong type or size shelving may cause unnecessary issues. Shelves need to accommodate the items that are being stored. Check the school district warehouse for possible surplus shelves that may suit your storage needs.


When thinking about storage, do not overlook labeling. The best storage system can fail if you do not know what is inside the container, or on the shelf. When organizing a storeroom, be sure to include all the pertinent information you need to find what you are looking for quickly. For example, product names and descriptions, and even pictures can save time and effort when trying to locate an item.

The best way to care for the things kept on hand is to store them in a safe, organized, easy-to-understand fashion. This can protect from damage, clutter and save time while selecting items. Most of all, it helps keep track what is available; consequently there is a better idea of what may be needed.

Congratulations Carolyn Poage: Regional Classified School Employee of the Year!

Regional Classified School Employee of the Year Carolyn Poage poses with Olympia HIgh Principal Matt Grant after she was surprised last fall at being named an OSD Classified School Employee of the YearOlympia High School Head Custodian Carolyn Poage has been named the Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113 Classified School Employee of the Year.

Earlier this year, Poage learned she was one of three Olympia School District Classified School Employees of the Year. She received a standing ovation and congratulations from colleagues during an Olympia School Board meeting.

As a regional winner, Poage is in the running for state Classified School Employee of the Year. The state winner will be named later this spring.

Poage will be honored next month at a regional school superintendents’ meeting, participate in a reception at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and be recognized at a reception for exceptional educators held at the Governor’s mansion.

She has worked in the Olympia School District since 2003. In those 14 years, she has been a substitute custodian, a swing custodian, and a head custodian.

Congratulations Carolyn, we are so proud of you!

Hansen Elementary classroom mini-building dedication is March 22

Hansen Elementary classroom mini building outdoor photoThe newly constructed two-story Hansen Elementary classroom mini-building will open its doors to students on March 19 and be the site of a dedication ceremony on Thursday, March 22.

The community is welcome to join Hansen Elementary students and staff, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, school board members, district staff, and the architect and contractor in a ribbon-cutting ceremony starting at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22.

Guests are welcome to enjoy cake and walk through the new classroom building following the ribbon cutting.

Hansen Elementary is the second of five two-story classroom mini-buildings to open its doors. Construction continues on the Roosevelt, McLane and Centennial elementary school mini-buildings, approved by voters as part of the 2016 school bond. Pioneer Elementary School’s mini-building opened in January.

Each of the mini-buildings has eight classrooms, a music room, a commons/general classroom space for multiple uses, small learning areas between classrooms for small-group teaching and learning, a musical instrument storage area, and an administrative office and storage area. Each building also has a covered walkway connecting it to the main school building at each site, an elevator, two sets of stairs, and restrooms on each floor.

Exterior finishes and colors are designed to coordinate with the main one-story school buildings on the same campus.

School board honors National Board Certified Teachers

New NBCT and those who have renewed certification pose as a group with the school board at the March 12 board meeting.Congratulations to seven new Olympia School District National Board Certified Teachers, as well as to six educators who renewed their certification this year.

The Olympia School Board honored those who have passed this rigorous national certification, considered one of the highest honors in the teaching profession, during the March 12 school board meeting. Family, friends and colleagues filled the board room for the special recognition.

This year’s new National Board Certified Teachers are Hallie Houge and Heather Murphy of Olympia High School; Ericka Boysen of Jefferson Middle School; Aaron Schofield, Julie Woods and Danelle Wright of Washington Middle School; and Anita Roedell of Centennial Elementary School.

Educators who have renewed their national board certification include Patricia Arbuckle and Kathleen Gillespie-Atkinson of Hansen Elementary School; Michael Deakins of Capital High School; Paul Rae of Olympia High School; Dorothy Espedal-Johnson of McKenny Elementary School; and Keith Holder of Jefferson Middle School.

Join 2018 state Teacher of the Year for educators workshop March 21 in Olympia

2018 Mandy Manning State Teacher of the Year linksAre you a teacher? Do you ever wonder how best to reach out to and involve families whose children are learning English? Are you curious about engaging students from diverse cultures in the most respectful and effective manner?

Join 2018 Washington State Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning for a “Powerful Strategies for Newcomers” interactive two-hour workshop on Wednesday, March 21.  The workshop will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Knox Administrative Center Board Room, 1113 Legion Way SE, Olympia.

RSVP to:

During this workshop, educators will learn strategies for involving newcomers’ families in their ELL education, strengthening ties between schools and the communities they serve, and culturally responsive classroom practices that work for everyone.  To learn more about Mandy and her work, see the flier adjacent to this blog post. If you have questions about the workshop, please email OSD educator Jana Dean at

Tickets available for OSD night at the Tacoma Rainiers on May 31

Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Club Logo, featuring Mt. Rainier and a baseball for the O in TacomaTickets are available for the annual Olympia School District Night at the Tacoma Rainiers on Thursday, May 31.

The Rainiers will take on the Salt Lake Bees beginning at 7:05 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

All students, families, teachers, staff and the Olympia School District community are invited to join us for this fun-filled district event. Invite your friends and neighbors and show support for the Rainiers and our school community.

Last year we had more than 150 district attendees. Let’s surpass that this year with a great turnout! Be on time to watch Superintendent Patrick Murphy throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Tickets are available by visiting and entering the promo code OSD. Group Express tickets are $13 and include a reserved seat ticket and ballpark meal (hot dog, chips & bottled water). Double Play tickets are $19 and include Group Express items plus a limited edition Rainiers hat.

Hope to see you there!