Learn about balanced calendar at upcoming meetings and community webinar

Graphic of blank calendar with person's hands holding a magnifying glass focused on the calendar

The Olympia School District is part of a regional group, including some other Thurston County school districts, that is in the beginning stages of exploring the concept of a balanced calendar.

A balanced calendar would modify the traditional 180-day school calendar to keep the learning process continuous. Instead of a calendar dominated by a very long summer break, students would have more periodic, longer breaks throughout the school year and a shorter summer break. Students attending schools that follow a balanced calendar receive the same number of instructional days and hours as those who attend schools that follow a traditional calendar.

Opportunities to learn more and provide input

  • An OSD Citizen Advisory Committee focused on a balanced calendar will meet the first and third Wednesday of each month beginning in March 2022. The next meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled on Wednesday, March 2 beginning at 6 p.m. on Zoom. Meeting agendas, minutes and the Zoom link to access the CAC meetings are posted on the Citizen Advisory Committee Balanced Calendar webpage.

  • The next in a series of monthly Community Webinars will focus on a balanced calendar. The March 15 webinar will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom. Superintendent Patrick Murphy, School Board Director Scott Clifthorne and Community Member Sandy Hallstrom will share information the first half hour and then open for questions during the last half hour. More information, including the Webinar Zoom link, is posted in a news article on the district website.

  • For more information on balanced calendar, visit the Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD) Balanced Calendar Initiative website. The AESD is one of several statewide organizations partnering with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction on a Balanced Calendar initiative.

Department of Retirement Systems offers Nearing Retirement Seminar February 26

White ceramic teacup sits on railing with mountains and lake in the distance

Is retirement around the corner? The Department of Retirement Systems’ Education & Outreach team offers Nearing Retirement Seminars online. The next seminar is at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 26, 2022.

Select Nearing Retirement Seminars for more information and how to join the seminar. Be advised that while you can preregister, it is not necessary to do so. Select the date link, or from the seminar page select “Join” 10-15 minutes prior to the start.

If you are unable to attend a live event, scroll down the seminar page and you will find recorded seminar videos you can watch at a time that is more convenient.

Although the Nearing Retirement Seminars are open to all employees, they are designed for those who plan to retire within the next few years. Basic retirement plan information will not be provided at these seminars, but it is important to understand the basics of your plan prior to attending. If you would like to brush up, we encourage you to select your retirement plan and watch the recorded webinar video:

In addition, if you are a member of SERS or TRS, please review the following article: Resignation timing affects health and pension benefits for school employees and teachers.

DRS offers webinar video recordings about Deferred Compensation Program

Person typing on a laptop computer indoors at a desk

The Department of Retirement Systems offers on-demand webinar video recordings about the Washington State Deferred Compensation Program (DCP):

DCP is a voluntary, supplemental retirement savings program. Content includes:

  • Flexible contributions
  • Federal income tax benefits
  • Investment approaches
  • Manage account
  • And more!

The following are on-demand webinar video recordings that employees may watch at a time that is most convenient:

Author to speak at Capital HS Saturday, March 5

Photo of author Erin Jones and the cover of her book Bridges to Heal US, along with time, place, date  and online link for ticket information for event on March 5 at Capital High School.

Capital High School invites staff, families and the community to a presentation by author, speaker and educator Erin Jones on Saturday, March 5 at Capital High School.

Jones, author of the book “Bridges to Heal US, Stories and Strategies for Racial Healing,” will share information and strategies between 4 and 5:30 p.m. in the school’s Performing Arts Center, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

Tickets are not required; however, obtaining a ticket to this event will help the school anticipate an estimated turnout.

Reminder: Clear employee voicemails Feb. 18 and re-record voicemail greeting Feb. 23

Work desk phone on a table

On Tuesday, February 22, the Technology department will complete a necessary upgrade to OSD voicemail services. Unfortunately, it is not possible to migrate saved voicemail messages or recorded greetings from the old server to the new. This means that everyone will need to re-record their voicemail greetings when we return to school on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Instructions will be sent out to all staff on how to create the new recordings.

Also, please make sure any of your unheard or saved messages are cleared by the end of day on February 18, 2022. 

Note: This upgrade does not affect the pre-recorded phone trees many schools currently have in place.

Thank you for your patience.

Local grocery store campaign benefits students through OSDEF

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneath

The following article is submitted by the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF)

If you have shopped at the westside Olympia Haggen lately, you may have been asked in the checkout line if you would like to make a donation to support students in the Olympia School District.

This vague question has led to confusion about what these donations would support.

The Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) would like you to know that any donations made at Haggen between now and March 18 will directly benefit the Principal’s Emergency Fund, Teaching & Learning Grants, and Mental Health Initiative.

Now through March 18, Haggen is running its annual Building Brighter Futures Together campaign, which last year benefited the Foundation — and its mission to empower every Olympia School District student — to the tune of $13,000.

Questions? Contact Foundation Executive Director Katy Johansson at katy@osdef.org or (360) 596-6110.

Please ignore automated email sent by Riverside DataManager

Last fall we emailed all employees to ask that you ignore an automated email from a vendor, Riverside DataManager. The automated email was sent in error by the vendor and asked employees to enter a password to access “DataManager.” Some employees recently notified OSD Technology that they received a similar email from the same vendor. Technology reports this, too, was an automated email sent in error. This is not a phishing or scam email, but you are not required to create a password.  There is no follow-up by employees required.

Shout-out to three new Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday 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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Nick Davis, Field Technician, OSD Technology Office

Nick has made such a positive impact at Boston Harbor since he became our technology field technician. He has helped so much to problem-solve our technology issues and always has some great ideas and solutions to technology issues that have come up. Nick is attentive, friendly, and kind and is always willing to help support staff to make their job easier and always comes to the rescue.

We are very thankful to be able to have his help at our school!
Submitted by Roxanne Schwegler, Office Manager, Boston Harbor Elementary School on behalf of the entire Boston Harbor staff

Everyday Hero
Chris Tauson, School Bus Driver, OSD Transportation Office

I would like to nominate bus driver Chris as an everyday hero. Chris welcomes kids onto the bus every day with a hearty hello and a smile. His attitude makes the transition from school to home one that is warm and welcoming, especially for the youngest students. Thank you, Chris!
Submitted by Katie Jahner, Ceramics and CTE Teacher, Olympia High School

Everyday Hero
Andy Callender, Media Arts teacher, Washington Middle School

Andy Callender had been a sub in our building for some time, and with the recent passing of beloved Media Arts teacher, Marc Coyner, Andy stepped up to fill the void created by that tragedy. I simply cannot imagine having to take over for a larger-than-life figure such as Marc, but Andy has come in bravely, admirably, and to much appreciation by the students he serves and the staff he works with. In the short time that Andy has been with us full time, I have already heard a lot of talk from the students about what a great teacher he is (even in subjects he only subbed for!), and how well he has filled Mr. Coyner’s giant Converse shoes. I regret that the craziness of this year has not afforded me a common moment of spare time to greet him properly, so I write this nomination during a moment of independent work in my classroom. I hope to get a few moments to talk with him very soon, but in the meantime, I wanted him to know that we appreciate him. Thank you, Andy, for being with us!
Submitted by Audrey Perry, 8th Grade Science Teacher, Washington Middle School

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.

Deferred Compensation Program live and on-demand webinar offerings

A Department of Retirement Systems’ Education & Outreach Representative will provide a live webinar covering the Washington State Deferred Compensation Program (DCP):

DCP Essentials – Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at 3 pm  

DCP is a voluntary, supplemental retirement savings program. Content includes:

  • Flexible contributions
  • Federal income tax benefits
  • Investment approaches
  • Manage account
  • And more!

To attend the webinar, select the date link about 5-10 minutes prior to the start so you can test your connection and sound.  For login or audio assistance, call (360) 664-7930 prior to the start of, or anytime during the webinar. We also recommend reviewing how to join a DRS Webinar for tips on accessing the webinar.

If you are unable to attend, we invite you to watch an on-demand webinar video recording at a time that is more convenient:

Family Liaisons: Partnering and empowering families in Olympia

Screen shot of Zoom meeting featuring the faces of OSD family liaisons

The following article is shared by the Teaching & Learning team

In the Academic & Student Well-Being Recovery Plan, the school board and superintendent prioritized efforts to support student recovery through partnership with families (pages 6-8). At the elementary level, the restructure of the Teaching & Learning (T&L) team involved coordinated supports for rolling out T&L Family Liaison Services at our 11 elementary schools through recruitment, hiring, onboarding and support.

Family liaisons are grounding themselves through development of a Family Partnership Framework, while simultaneously partnering in service of students and families across Olympia.

Equity at the Center: Developing a Framework for Partnership

Our family liaisons aim to facilitate a full and equitable partnership among families, educators, community partners and other stakeholders in support of all students’ development in academic success, socioemotional well-being, and college and career readiness.

Family liaisons practice working with families, not for families. To ensure sustainability with this approach, family liaisons are establishing an OSD Family Partnership informed by the voices of families, students and other stakeholders to truly adhere to equitable practices.

Our framework, which is in development, is grounded in the 2021 OSPI Family Engagement Framework and guided by the intentional data collection of voices from families.

Examples of Aligned Efforts in Fall 2021

Holiday Support for 343 Families
Our family liaisons partnered with Together!, Honda of Olympia and local Rotary Clubs to acquire and distribute “Food and Turkey Baskets” for our families before Thanksgiving, and throughout December.

Pandemic Support and Relief
School staff shared with family liaisons that support is needed for students and families worried about coming back to in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, T&L family liaisons continue to collaborate with front office and nursing staff at their school to identify families and needs. Examples of supports: delivering food bags and homework packets, providing resources for other food delivery options, connecting families with community services, and problem-solving barriers that come along with being quarantined.

Family liaisons also support in elementary classrooms, hallways and lunchrooms, and on playgrounds, to build relationships with students as part of healthy family partnership efforts.

Basic Needs
As each family liaison has gradually found their place within their school, they all noticed a common theme of families seeking access to basic needs including physical/mental healthcare, food access, affordable housing, etc. T&L Family Liaison Services partners with the Student Support department to align efforts with Together! and support families in accessing McKinney-Vento supports.

Supervision of Family Liaison Services

Supervision of Family Liaison Services falls under Char Franz, director of whole child success, who reports to Chief Academic Officer (CAO) Hannah Gbenro. Family liaisons are directly supported by Marisha McDowell, family & community partnership coordinator, who reports to Director Franz. All family liaisons are site-based at each of the 11 elementary schools the T&L Team was assigned to partner with to initially establish this service model.