Board-approved Student Outcomes drive Strategic Planning process

Classroom teacher leads a discussion while students sit on the floor in front of herThe Olympia School Board unanimously agreed in December to approve a set of Student Outcomes as part of its Strategic Planning process.

The Student Outcomes were reached after a six-month process that included extensive community input.

The school board considered this input, including a two-day Educational Summit, two online surveys that elicited thousands of responses, and approximately 50 meetings with staff, students, families and community members, to create, revise and eventually adopt six “will statements” as expectations for students.

The following are the board-approved Student Outcomes, which are posted on the district website:

Our students will:

Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind.

Outcome 2: Have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.

Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.

Outcome 4: Have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias.

Outcome 5: Discover their passions, be curious and love learning.

Outcome 6: Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.

The next step is for district leadership, with input from staff, students, families and community members, to further define and interpret these broad outcomes. That deeper explanation will be accompanied by metrics so that staff, students and families will know what is meant by each outcome and how the district will measure if it is successful in reaching that result for all students.

The goal is to have that work completed by the end of this school year.

Kudos to this week’s Everyday Hero; tell us about someone who makes a difference at your building!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD EmployeesEveryday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. 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 newest honoree:

Everyday Hero
Heather Gajkowski, Behavior Technician, Roosevelt ES

I really appreciate the way Heather has jumped into her new role this year with both feet running and a HUGE smile! Not only does she brighten the lives of our students, she brightens my life as well. As our behavior tech she is constantly looking for innovative ways to support our students and is ready to tackle any challenge. She is a true partner in responding to the needs of our students and her heart is big enough to stretch around all of our students, and staff as well. I am very grateful for her leadership in our building.
Submitted by Ruth Middlebrook, Administrative Intern and School Counselor/Psychologist, Roosevelt ES

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) 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.

Spring Professional Development catalog is available on staff intranet

Numerous computers in what appears to be a computer lab or professional development classThe spring 2019 OSD Professional Development catalog is available on the staff intranet and features an extensive lineup of class offerings.

To log in to the staff intranet, remember to first click “login” near the top of the district Home page. On the next screen, click the large red “Sign in with Google” tab. Once signed in, click the Intranet heading on the Home page and scroll down the left pane to click Staff Development. Once the page opens, click the link for the Professional Development Catalog Spring 2019.

Thinking about retirement? Register for March 7 Retirement Planning Seminar

Open notebook with words "My Plan" at the top and person preparing to write with a penThinking about retirement?

If you are within five years of retirement, you will want to attend this annual Retirement Planning Seminar to learn about your retirement plans (Plan 2 or Plan 3), medical/dental options, sick leave buyout (VEBA), social security options and how to use a retirement planner.

Register by March 4 for the seminar, sponsored by the Thurston County School Retirees Association. The seminar will be held from 4-6:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 at the New Market Skills Center, 7299 New Market St. S.W. in Tumwater.

To register, contact Ronald Crawford at ronaldwcrawford1@comcast.net or (360) 236-9305. Registration fee is $10 (pay at the door, and spouse is free).

Learn about new Washington paid family and medical leave benefits

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. This benefit offers partially paid leave to care for yourself or a loved one in times of serious illness or injury, to bond with a new child joining your home through birth, adoption or foster placement, and for certain military-connected events if you have a family member in active duty service.

As a worker in Washington, you will experience a few changes in 2019. In your first paycheck of 2019, you might notice a new deduction. For example, if your pre-tax wages are $50,000 per year, you may pay up to about $10.56 from each paycheck. Employers contribute to this program too, so we’re in this together.

In 2020, you will be able to apply for leave when you experience a qualifying event and have worked 820 hours (about 16 hours a week, on average) in the year leading up to your date of leave.

This isn’t like paid sick leave; you will file your claim with the Employment Security Department (ESD), and your payment will come from ESD. Typically, you’ll have access to up to 12 weeks of paid leave. You can learn more at www.paidleave.wa.gov/workers.

Do you have questions? Ask your HR representative or ask your questions directly to the Paid Family and Medical Leave program at paidleave@esd.wa.gov. You can also find them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @PaidLeaveWA.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Learn when to mark images as decorative

Olympia School District Staff Directory

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about when to label an image as a “decorative image.” Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When choosing an alternative text for an image, one option is to label the image as decorative. By marking an image as decorative, authors can indicate the image adds no additional information to the content.

The majority of decorative images are simply aesthetic flourishes such as decorative page breaks or content borders. While visually appealing, these images can create meaningless clutter for a screen reader user. By marking these elements as decorative, authors enable screen reader users to skip over them and focus solely on the content.

Beyond design elements, other images may also be considered decorative, so long as they do not add additional information to the page. For instance, consider the district’s staff directory. It includes profile pictures alongside a name. The likely alternative text for such an image would be the individual’s name, but that information is already included in the accompanying text. By marking the image as decorative, a screen reader user is saved the experience of hearing each name twice, and no meaningful information is lost.

While choosing the correct alternative text for an image is a decidedly subjective task, it can be helpful to keep in mind the content and function of the image. Why is the image included? Would the message be the same without the image? If so, consider marking it as decorative.

To mark an image as decorative in HTML, set the alternative text tag to two quote marks with nothing between them. This alt=”” is universally understood by screen reader users. Some software suites, such as Acrobat Pro, also allow the author to mark images as decorative, while others, such as PowerPoint, require the decorative content to be included in the background layer.

For more information on crafting alternative text and other accessibility concerns, see the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page, or consider attending a hands-on workshop at Knox.