Learn to create a teacher webpage in SchoolMessenger on May 1 Zoom training

Numerous computers in what appears to be a computer lab or professional development classThe district Communications department is offering a Zoom training for teachers interested in creating a teacher webpage on their school’s website in SchoolMessenger. Those who already have teacher webpages created and need a refresher in editing the pages are also welcome to join. This is NOT a Schoology training.

Our Zoom Teacher Webpage Training is on Friday, May 1 from 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom. To join this Zoom meeting follow this link. If you are prompted, use the information below to join the meeting:

Meeting ID: 959 2374 2339
Password: 012344.

If you are new to creating a teacher webpage and have not already watched the 1.5 hour Website Accessibility Webinar, you will need to do so prior to the training. The webinar is located in SafeSchools under the “Policy” section. Safe Schools can be accessed through the OSD Portal.

Teachers who take this 1.5-hour training on how to create a teacher webpage and watch the 1.5-hour Website Accessibility webinar may use Technology Professional Development hours or General Staff Development hours for 2019-20. Please note, staff may only be paid once for the 1.5-hour Website Accessibility Webinar. Teachers who have already taken the Teacher Webpage Training and want to take it again as a refresher may use Technology PD or Staff PD for reimbursement.

If you plan on attending this training please RSVP to communications@osd.wednet.edu, as we will need to set you up as a user in the system prior to the training. If you do not RSVP prior to the meeting, you will not have access to your Teacher Webpage during the training.

State recognizes seven Olympia schools for gains

Logo for Washington School Recognition Program with image of WA state mapThe state has recognized seven Olympia School District schools for their work in demonstrating achievement, showing growth over the previous year, or closing opportunity gaps for students during the 2018-19 school year.

Congratulations to the following schools:

  • Avanti High School: Closing Gaps for all students for improving the graduation rate.
  • Capital High School: Growth for students identifying as Native American or Alaskan Native.
  • Jefferson Middle School: Achievement for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.
  • Marshall Middle School: Growth for students who are English learners.
  • Centennial Elementary: Closing Gaps for one or more student groups at a Targeted Support school.
  • McLane Elementary: Growth for students who receive special education services.
  • Roosevelt Elementary: Growth for students identifying with two or more races.

“We are fortunate in Olympia to annually have many schools recognized by the state for achievement and this past year is no different,” said Superintendent Patrick Murphy. “The recognition of this year’s group of schools is a continued tribute to the dedication of the teachers and staff and their commitment to equity. It once again reflects the hard work of our students and the unwavering support of their families.”

The Washington School Recognition Program uses state and local data to identify schools that have made gains in targeted areas and are on a path toward overall improvements in achievement, growth, and closing opportunity gaps.

In all, 391 Washington schools are being recognized this year, and each one will receive a banner and certificate for display. Additionally, the state Legislature has acknowledged the last week in April as Washington School Recognition Week (April 27-May 1, 2020).

In a press release announcing the statewide awards, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal thanked educators “for your amazing work” and said, “Right now, the whole world is understanding the significance of our public schools. Public education provides each student with an opportunity for success; it’s the foundation of our democracy and our society.”

The annual Washington School Recognition Program is coordinated by the Washington State Board of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee.

“With these awards we recognize the outstanding efforts of our schools and their positive impact on students,” said Washington State Board of Education Chair Peter Maier.

To learn more about the awards, visit the Washington State Board of Education website.

Employee wellness resources

White ceramic teacup sits on railing with mountains and lake in the distanceAt this time, maybe more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to have resources to help stay safe, well and connected.

SEBB SmartHealth

SmartHealth is a voluntary, easy-to-use, and secure online (website and app) employee wellness platform. All SEBB members have access to this free resource, even if you waived SEBB medical coverage.

Sign in to join activities to help reduce stress, connect with others, improve your overall well-being, and build resiliency during this challenging time. You may also qualify for a $125 wellness incentive. Learn more about SmartHealth for details.

Employee Assistance Program

Personal issues, planning for life events or simply managing daily life can affect an employee’s work, health and family.

First Choice Health provides 24/7 support, resources and information for personal and work-life issues. Services include support for anxiety and depression, couples/relationship/parenting, crisis support, alcohol/drug problems, grief and loss, domestic violence, and more.

Learn more by viewing the Employee Assistance Program flyer.

OSD Community Resources Webpage

Community agencies are available to assist youth and families who need help navigating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A compilation of resources and information, including a list of local and national emergency hotlines, and links to resources such as how to cope with anxiety and how to talk with children about the pandemic, are posted on the district website.

Congratulations to our newest Everyday Hero; tell us who we should feature next!

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
Britney Martin, Administrative Professional, McKenny Elementary School

I would like to nominate Britney Martin, an administrative professional at McKenny Elementary as an Everyday Hero! As a new itinerant staff member, no one made me feel more welcome to their building than Britney! She had keys ready to go on the first day and a welcome card in my box, and even now, when I come to her with a question, no matter how insightful or silly, she will always take a moment to help me, from emailing technology or looking up a roster, to helping me with mundane tasks that I should know the answer to but don’t yet. I never feel silly for asking, and I always feel like I am an important staff member and welcome at McKenny. She’s also taught me just how much a building’s culture starts with the first smile you see — and it’s great to get a happy hello first thing in the morning!
Submitted by Stacey Burns, Music Teacher, McKenny, McLane and Pioneer elementary schools

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.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Enhancing the accuracy of automatically generated captions


This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to use YouTube’s automatic captioning to create accessible video content. 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 via Zoom.

Creating videos using ScreenCastify or other tools is a great way to reach out and connect with your students and our community. Captioning this content is a necessary step in ensuring everyone can access and enjoy it. Tools such as YouTube automatically generate captions,  but there are some steps that can be taken to enhance the accuracy of the captions and ensure the meaning of your message is fully conveyed.

Increasing the accuracy of automatically generated captions:

  • Have clear audio with a single individual speaking. Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Reduce background noise and refrain from background music or other distractions.
  • Introduce yourself at the outset of the video. This negates the requirement to manually enter your name in the captions at the start of the video (for example: [Robert Hardy]).
  • Narrate your on-screen actions, particularly when creating step-by-step guides.

Editing captions in YouTube(click here to view a screencast of this process):

  1. Upload your video to your YouTube channel. After several minutes, YouTube’s automatically generated captions will become available.
  2. Select your profile icon at the top right of the YouTube screen, and select YouTube Studio.
  3. On the left-hand menu, select Subtitles.
  4. On the row that reads “English (Automatic)”, beneath the Subtitles column, select Published Automatic. This will open YouTube’s subtitle editing screen.
  5. At the top right, select Edit.
  6. Edit the captions in the left menu, editing for grammar and punctuation. Some hotkeys are available to enable you to simultaneously watch the video:
    • Shift + Space – Plays the video
    • Shift + Left Arrow – Rewinds the video by one second
    • Shift + Right Arrow – Fast forwards the video by one second
    • Shift + Enter – Adds a new line in the caption.
    • Shift + Down/Up Arrow – Goes to the next/previous caption
    • Enter – Adds a new blank caption
  7. If needed, the timings of captions can be adjusted by dragging the edges of the caption on the caption timeline beneath the video.
  8. When done, select Publish edits.

Tips for formatting captions:

  • Include sound in brackets:
    • [Laughs]
    • [Rolling thunder]
  • If including music, include the song title and musician:
    • [“Fifth Symphony” by Beethoven]
  • If music lyrics are central to the message of the video, include those using the ♪ icon (you can copy and paste it from here):
    • ♪ Never gonna run around and desert you
      Never gonna make you cry ♪
  • If speech is inaudible, use [inaudible]
  • Try to keep captions synced with the spoken speech, and try to refrain from overly long captions

Thank you for your work in creating captions for your video content. If you have any questions about this method or other accessibility concerns, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Reminder: 2018-19 Annual Report is posted on district website

Every year the Olympia School District publishes an Annual Report to share with the community many of the student, staff and school successes during the previous year.

The 2018-19 Annual Report posted on the school district website also features demographic and financial information, building improvement updates and links to school improvement plans and school performance reports.

We encourage you to read the report and join us as we celebrate many of the great memories that made the 2018-19 school year one of the best.

OSDEF update on teacher grants

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) was thrilled to review nearly 90 grant requests – and award more than $80,000 – for a variety of 2019-20 school year projects that promote student growth and achievement.

Due to the Olympia School District’s move to distance learning for the remainder of the current school year, any OSDEF grant recipient who has not used their 2019-20 grant funds as of April 30, 2020, may either request in writing a carry-over of the 2019-20 grant funds to the 2020-21 school year, or return the grant funds to the OSDEF. Any grant funds returned will receive priority for the 2020-21 grant year.

If you were able to complete your grant project, please fill out and return your required Post-Grant Report (by email) to info@osdef.org. Only upon completion of this report are grantees eligible for future funding.

While no new grant applications will be accepted for the current school year, the OSDEF looks forward to re-opening the Grant Request process for the 2020-21 school year on August 3, 2020.

Questions? Contact OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson.

Public School Volunteer Week is April 20-24; thank you, volunteers!

93158076_3121812541213324_6266310796137988096_oPublic School Volunteer Week is being celebrated throughout the Olympia School District Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will read a proclamation during the April 20 Olympia School Board meeting recognizing April 20-24 as Public School Volunteer Week. The local recognition coincides with both the state and national Public School Volunteer Week.

Murphy will recognize OSD Volunteer Coordinator Steve Desselle on behalf of all volunteers throughout the district and thank him for his work. More than 4,200 parents, students and community members give their time as volunteers in our schools.

The proclamation states in part that volunteers “are an integral part of student learning, play an important role in the education of students and provide a valuable partnership link with our community.” It also states that volunteers “inspire success in students while nurturing and challenging them to extend beyond their reach.”

Thank you, volunteers, for all you do for our schools!

School facilities closed through end of school year; distance learning continues

Close up of person typing on laptop computer with notebook in the foregroundBelow is the copy of a message sent to families and staff on April 6:

Good afternoon OSD families,

As you may have heard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered today that all schools statewide remain closed, and that distance learning continues, through the remainder of this 2019-20 school year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal joined Gov. Inslee for this afternoon’s announcement and emphasized that distance learning will continue during the closure.

This announcement will inform our continued efforts to create a more robust Distance Learning Plan, which was shared with families in a communication last Friday. We will provide updates on that plan along with answers to other questions like when our district’s last day of school will be, how graduation will occur, or how families can gather students’ personal belongings left in school buildings when they closed last month. We will provide an update by the end of this week.

For now, all Olympia school buildings will remain closed through the end of this school year.

Thank you.

Be cautious of phishing scams; reports of phishing emails this week

Below is a message from OSD Technology, which was emailed to all employees today:

Good morning OSD employees,

We have received several reports of employees receiving phishing emails this week, posing as messages from principals. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details and money, often for malicious reasons, by someone disguising as a trustworthy entity. This most recent phishing attack has scammers impersonating administrators and principals in our district in an attempt to give you a sense of urgency to buy gift cards. Unfortunately these scammers are trying to take advantage of our closure and pandemic situation, in an attempt to get you to bypass normal scrutiny of these types of email.

As talked about in past phishing awareness messages, if any email looks or feels suspicious, check that the sender’s email address matches their name and expected email address (@osd.wednet.edu). Also, if any email is asking you to make purchases, transfer money or reveal personal information, immediately be wary.

Remember, phishing scams can come in all forms, including phone calls, emails, letters and more. Continue to report phishing attempts to your supervisor and/or the Technology Helpdesk (helpdesk@osd.wednet.edu).