Retirement benefit solicitation emails are common this time of year

Black and grey digital device with icon for mail zoomed inRecently you may have received an email from one or more outside vendors stating that as an Olympia School District employee you are eligible to meet with a representative regarding retirement benefit questions. These types of solicitation emails are commonly sent to organizations at the end of the school year and offer advising services about state, federal and individual retirement benefit questions.

Emails such as these are not from the Olympia School District, even though the subject heading may reference Olympia School District employees.

The Olympia School District does not endorse one retirement planner/firm over another. In addition, the district has not, and will not share information with a firm. Your email address is likely listed on our website, and we believe that the firms search our website for the purpose of solicitations. The district has not submitted a list of employees and email addresses as part of a public disclosure request.

Please contact Tonya Palmer, payroll supervisor, if you have questions or additional concerns at

Take the Fall School Reopening – Staff Feedback Survey

Line of sharp colored pencils with reflectionWe are seeking input from all OSD employees to assist in Fall 2020 school reopening plans. As our planning advances, the district will continue to follow guidance from the governor, health departments and education officials.

Please take a few moments to complete the Fall School Reopening  – Staff Feedback Survey.

Survey results will be shared with district leadership and fall reopening planning committees to help inform work going forward. This survey closes at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

Thank you for your feedback during this planning process. A separate family survey will be emailed to all OSD guardians early next week.

Take the staff feedback survey

Everyday Heroes – hint, it’s graduation time!

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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Heroes
Capital High School Staff

I would like to nominate the entire staff at Capital High School for the outstanding job they did putting on the 2020 Graduation and Parade. The year ended abruptly for our students and the seniors missed numerous graduation traditions. The staff did an amazing job giving them an incredible send-off and started what could be a new tradition for CHS! As a parent, I couldn’t have been happier and as a CHS staff member, I couldn’t be prouder!

Go Cougs!

Submitted by Kathy Cognasso, Athletic Secretary, Capital High School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • 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.

Learn about plans for reopening school this fall on new district webpages

Students stack red plastic cups in tower with help from teacherOlympia has formed two planning teams to address reopening school in fall 2020. One of the groups is addressing academic needs, and the other is looking at how we could safely operate school inside our physical buildings. As always, we will continue to follow guidance from the governor, health departments and education officials.

To learn about the committee work, including a list of committee members,  meeting agendas/minutes, documents shared, and links to research and reports, visit the new Fall 2020 School Reopening Plans webpage.

Fall 2020 planning is underway

color-draw-colored-pencils-mirroring-37539Planning is underway to address the question on many people’s minds: What will fall 2020 look like in our schools?

The Olympia School Board will hold a work session on Monday, June 15, 2020 to discuss work underway. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. on Zoom, and the community is welcome to attend the online session. The Zoom link and other details about how to connect to this meeting will be shared on the district website closer to the meeting.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared some of the ongoing planning efforts in the May issue of the district’s Spotlight on Success newsletter. In that message, the superintendent noted that while we can’t say definitively how the structure will look, as there are still too many unknowns, we can say that it almost assuredly won’t be business as usual. 

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has put together a task force to talk about how schools might operate this fall. That group, which includes several OSD employees, has looked at a continuum of possibilities, including a continuation of the distance learning model, an on-campus learning model with physical distancing protocols in place that warrant altered schedules, or perhaps a combination of the two. Time will tell as state leaders and health officials continue to track COVID-19 cases locally and statewide, and determine the pace at which sites can reopen. 

In the meantime, Olympia has formed two planning teams to begin mapping out needs for various scenarios this fall. One of the groups is addressing academic needs, and the other is looking at how we could safely operate school inside our physical buildings, even if only for a limited number of staff and/or students. These same groups are also planning ways to safely gather and distribute materials going into the summer. Some students and parents are helping educators with this planning work, and we will share ways the entire community can be engaged as we move forward. As always, we will continue to follow guidance from the governor, health departments and education officials.

COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan 2.0

close-up-of-face-masks-4197562Earlier today all employees were emailed a copy of the COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan 2.0, which has been updated since the first version sent to employees last week.

The most significant change is that hand gloves are not required to be worn in our schools or support buildings. Health officials have indicated that it is safer to practice effective hand-washing.

While Thurston County is now in Phase 2, we want staff to know we still continue to encourage employees to work from home. If you feel it is necessary to work onsite, we ask that you first contact your supervisor. Then, when you come to a school or support building, please follow the updated “COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan 2.0.”

Join us for the annual Ice Cream Social Thursday, May 28 on Zoom!

2019 Teacher of the Year Dan Lundberg shown with his wife at the Ice Cream Social

OSD Ice Cream Social 2019

Mark your calendars for the Olympia School District’s annual Ice Cream Social from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.

This annual event honors district retirees, celebrates school advocates of the year and recognizes the Olympia Education Association Teacher of the Year.

All staff is welcome to attend this special recognition event in this year’s new online format.  A Zoom meeting link will be provided closer to the event. We hope you can join us!

Videos and photos requested for a documentary to honor Gordon Chamberlain’s life

Gordon Chamberlain, longtime OSD educator, surrounded by streamers in his office at OHSOn behalf of the family, Marla Williams, sister-in-law of longtime OSD educator Gordon Chamberlain who passed away on May 2, will be producing a documentary tribute to Gordon. She requests that anyone who is interested share their photos and their memories to help as she makes a short film about Gordon.

Marla asks that people search through their phones and files and shoeboxes for photos, cell phone or home movies, and other recordings they may wish to share. She welcomes short cell phone videos or voice memos and has set up dedicated folders in Dropbox and Google Drive to upload photos, voice recordings, music, or videos of Gordon.

Marla also welcomes short videos of “you telling a story about Gordon, or sharing a memory about him.” These could be recorded on any type of smartphone or camera and should be roughly 90 seconds or less.

She says, “Please know it may not be possible to include everything in the film tribute but be assured that all photos and recordings will be shared with the family and carefully saved as part of his tribute.”

Some things to consider when sharing photos or recordings:

  • Send items to the Dropbox or Google Drive folder by mid-June.
  • Send the highest quality image or recording possible.
  • When uploading, send the “original” size (instead of “optimizing” for email). The Dropbox and Google Drive folder will take very large files.
  • For all still photos, the larger the size the better – ideally above 1000×1000 pixels and in JPEG, PNG or TIFF format.
  • For sound or visual recordings, please send as Quick Time, .mov or MP4 files (preferably 90 seconds or less).
  • Remember to copy your photos or recordings to one or the other of these folders: Dropbox or Google Drive

If you have any questions or need technical help, please email Marla Williams directly at

Gordon was well known in the community, both as an educator in OSD for nearly 20 years and as a keyboard player in the Mick Hart and the Classic Vinyl Band. He retired last June after working as a dean and teacher at Olympia High School. He also worked in various other leadership roles in the Olympia School District, including assistant principal/dean at Capital High School and Reeves Middle School.

Gordon’s family thanks everyone in advance for sharing their memories.