Equity Policy focus groups to begin in early November

Blank profiles of people, including adults and children, whose silhouettes are featured in different colors

The following is submitted by Ryan Howland, OSD director of projects and grants. Howland supports the work of the Equity Policy Steering Committee along with Facilitator Kimberlee Armstrong, Ed.D.

District policy is the cornerstone of implementing systemic change within a school district. We are closer to creating a district Equity Policy that uniquely represents all students, staff and families in Olympia.

The OSD Equity Policy Steering Committee (EPSC) is launching student-first and community-driven Equity Policy Focus Groups, starting with student-first focus groups in early November. Students, employees or community members who would like to host a focus group and share the information collected with the district have three options:

  1. Invite District Equity Focus Group Team members to moderate a focus group at a mutually agreed upon time and location;
  2. Invite District Equity Focus Group Team members to co-moderate a focus group on-site; OR,
  3. Self-facilitate a focus group and share data gathered with OSD.

Self-facilitated focus group moderators will have access to an EPSC Focus Group Toolkit, which provides an outline for how to lead a focus group along with important considerations from subject matter experts. Focus group moderators may also attend evening sessions with facilitator Kimberlee Armstrong, Ed.D., to receive additional training and preparation and have questions answered before their focus group takes place.

Stay tuned for more information about the Equity Policy Development process, including how to sign up for a focus group. Information is also available on the Equity Policy Development webpage on the district website.

Please send questions to equity@osd.wednet.edu and someone will contact you as soon as possible.

Feedback sought by November 18 for two new board policies

Strips of colored paper with "Thank You" in various languages

We invite OSD employees to provide feedback about two new board policies that went before the Olympia School Board for first reading last month and are expected to return for second reading in December.

Please review the following two new policies and procedures and share any feedback by November 18, 2022:

Language Access Policy 4218 focuses on increasing language access in public schools. It supports the district’s commitments to improving meaningful, two-way communication and promoting access to district programs, services and activities for students and their families. The policy and procedure references oral interpretation and written translation and calls for a formalized Language Access Plan and annual self-assessment of the plan beginning in the 2023-24 school year. You can see a copy of the policy and procedure on the Board Policy Review page.

Effective Communication Policy 4217 is focused on serving families/community members who request assistive listening, vision or speech aids or services for school district meetings, programs, activities or events. A copy of the policy and procedure, as wells as a form for requesting the aids/services, is also posted on the Board Policy Review page.

To provide feedback, please email communications@osd.wednet.edu

School board appoints Talauna Reed to District 2 board director position

The Olympia School Board has unanimously agreed to appoint Talauna Reed to fill the District 2 board director position vacated by Justin McKaughan, who resigned effective August 31, 2022. The board voted on the appointment following an executive session at the October 13, 2022 board meeting. 

Reed will take the oath of office during the next board meeting on Thursday, October 27. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA, 98506. She will serve a one-year term through December 2023. 

Reed is the Lead Outreach and Advocacy Navigator at Interfaith Works where she works with unhoused community members. In that capacity, Reed facilitates training in Cultural Diversity, de-escalation, restorative justice models, anti-racism and trauma-informed care across multiple organizations and in collaboration with other Thurston County providers. She facilitates meetings in the community where she educates audiences with tools for dismantling white supremacy in order to create a more equitable society. 

Reed has two children who attended Olympia schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and was named a YWCA “Womxn of Achievement” in 2020 as part of the organization’s annual Olympia event. The YWCA describes the award as a way to amplify and celebrate inspiring South Sound community members as part of its collective work to bring about racial and gender justice. 

Applications open for people interested in filling the school board Director District 2 seat

Students kneel on round to paint wooden board for a fence. Message on left of photo shows OSD logo and the title Olympia School Board Vacancy

The Olympia School District Board of Directors is seeking candidates interested in filling the vacant board position representing Director District 2.

The seat was vacated on August 31, 2022 by Justin McKaughan, who moved out of District 2. McKaughan was elected to the Olympia School Board in 2019. His four-year term expires in 2023. Board policy states the vacancy will be filled by board appointment.

Interested applicants may fill out and submit an online application formThe deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. on Monday,  September 26, 2022.

More information, including a link to view the District 2 boundary map, is available on the District 2 Director Application Process webpage

Huffman named new school board vice president; recruitment to begin for District 2 seat

Board members, including student representatives, make comments during June 2022 board meeting

Darcy Huffman, who joined the Olympia School Board in December 2021, is the new board vice president and will serve in that role until the next school board reorganization in December 2022.

Huffman assumed the role of vice president at the June 23, 2022 regular board meeting following a unanimous vote by the board. Previously, the role was held by Director Justin McKaughan, who recently announced his resignation as a board director, effective August 31, 2022. McKaughan announced he will move out of District 2 and will no longer be eligible to serve on the board after August.

McKaughan was elected to the Olympia School Board in 2019. His four-year term expires in 2023. The board will follow district policy, which states that the vacancy be filled by board appointment.

President Maria Flores noted that the board has 90 days to appoint someone to fill McKaughan’s vacancy after his departure on August 31, 2022. The board is currently in the planning phase of the recruitment process for the District 2 board seat.

Flores added that the board will receive applications from qualified individuals interested in filling the District 2 seat until the next regularly-scheduled board election. Details about the application process will be announced in district communications.

Congratulations to OSD Teacher of the Year Carolyn Gilman

Superintendent Patrick Murphy, OHS English Teacher Carolyn Gilman, and OHS Principal Matt Grant are joined by the OSD School Board in a posed photo after the OSD Teacher of the Year recognition at the Feb. 24 board meeting.

Congratulations to Olympia High School English teacher Carolyn Gilman, who has been named this year’s Olympia School District Teacher of the Year.

Gilman’s colleagues rose to their feet and erupted in applause and cheers when Superintendent Patrick Murphy made the surprise announcement during an Olympia High staff meeting. Watch video of the surprise announcement

Gilman started teaching in Olympia School District in the 2002-03 school year at Washington Middle School. She moved the following year to Olympia High School where she has been teaching ever since. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.

The school board presented Gilman with an etched plaque at the February 24 board meeting. Principal Matt Grant joined Gilman at the meeting and shared about her many contributions to Olympia High School. Her family, and several of her students, also attended the board recognition.

In his nomination letter, Grant wrote, “She has been a culture changer in our school who has helped many students find their voice and place in our school community.  I have been impressed with her engaging and creative instructional skills, her ability to find extensions outside the classroom, and her knack to inspire students to find their voice through speaking and writing.”

Congratulations Carolyn!

Education Support Professionals Week is March 7-11

The Olympia School Board is joined by leaders from OSD education support bargaining units

The Olympia School District is recognizing Education Support Professionals Week March 7-11.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation during the February 24 Olympia School Board meeting recognizing March 7-11, 2022 as Education Support Professionals Week. Copies of the proclamation will be sent to leaders of the district’s Education Support employee bargaining units, many of whom were in attendance either in-person or on the Zoom meeting. They include:

Amy McGuire and Alicia Snyder

Mario Mejia

Brandi Sorem and Wendy Rae

Melvin Smith


  • William Knight (Technology)
  • Matthew Murdock (Maintenance)
  • Devin Guy (Maintenance)
  • Tim Walling (Grounds)
  • Mary Hiatt (Custodial)
  • Calvin Dawson (Custodial)
  • Humberto Briseno (Transportation)
  • Jason Cornelius (Transportation)
  • Colleen McDonald (Transportation)
  • Sandra Keyt (Child Nutrition Services)

More than 800 education support professionals work with and help children throughout our district. They are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and school grounds; providing administrative support; preparing and serving meals; providing safe transportation; keeping school facilities clean; assisting in the classroom; providing a secure environment; providing information technology and media services; and offering other specialized services.

The resolution states in part that “education support professionals are instrumental in fulfilling the state’s responsibility to educate all students.” The one-page resolution, which will be posted in every school and support building from March 7-11, also states that by supporting the learning environment, “education support professionals are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and school boards.”

Please remember to thank an education support professional working in our schools.

Read the full Olympia School District proclamation

Interested in serving on the Olympia School Board?

Board members, wearing face coverings, pictured during a recent in-person board meeting in the Knox 111 Board Room.

Learn about the role of a school board director and get information about the two Olympia School Board seats up for election in the November 2021 General Election during a community meeting on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

People interested in vying for a seat on the school board, as well as those who want to learn more about the role, are encouraged to attend the online meeting from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Zoom (Zoom information is included at the end of this article).

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will share opening remarks, followed by guest speaker Tricia Lubach, director of leadership development with the Washington State School Directors’ Association. Lubach will explain about the role and responsibilities of a school board member. Her presentation will be followed by remarks by Olympia School Board Director Hilary Seidel.

There will be two Olympia School Board director seats on the November 2, 2021 General Election ballot:

  • Director District #3, currently held by Leslie Huff; 4-year term.
  • Director District #5, currently held by Scott Clifthorne; 4-year term.

People interested in vying for a seat on the board may mail, drop off in person or submit their application online to the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division. The Elections Division will begin accepting candidate filings by mail on May 3, 2021, and they must arrive at the elections office no later than May 17. Candidates may also fill out and submit an application online during candidate filing week May 17-21, 2021.

For more information about filing for an open seat on the school board, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website.  Candidates must be at least 18 years old, reside in the district for which they are filing and be a registered voter at the time of filing. There are some judicial exceptions; for more information, contact Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division at (360) 786-5408.

A Primary Election will be held on August 3, 2021, followed by the General Election on November 2, 2021.

Maps of the district’s five director districts, including an interactive map in which community members can type in their address to find their director district, are available on the Thurston Regional Planning Council website.

Zoom Information for April 20 Meeting
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January is School Board Recognition Month

Child's hands stacking colored blocks

Every January school districts across the state and nation honor their board of directors during School Board Recognition Month.

The Olympia School District will recognize its school board near the start of the meeting on Thursday, January 14. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The link to the online meeting will be posted on the district website.

During the program, Superintendent Patrick Murphy will read a proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee designating January as School Board Recognition Month in Washington State. This marks the 26th year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

The proclamation reads in part that school directors “are directly accountable to the citizens in their districts and regions, serving as a vital link between members of the community and their schools.”

The one-page proclamation also states that directors “play a crucial role in promoting student learning and achievement by creating a vision, establishing policies and budgets, and setting clear standards of accountability for all involved.” 

Read Gov. Inslee’s full proclamation

School board elects officers in annual reorganization

Every year in December, the Olympia School Board elects officers for the coming year during its annual reorganization.

Board President Scott Clifthorne mug shot
Newly elected Olympia School Board President Scott Clifthorne

At its December 10 meeting, the board elected Scott Clifthorne as this year’s board president and Maria Flores as vice president.

Board members are also appointed annually to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies. Directors will continue with their same appointed positions from this past year:

  • Leslie Huff, board representative to the Olympia School District Education Foundation.
  • Hilary Seidel, board representative to the Thurston Regional Planning Council.
  • Justin McKaughan, board representative to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
  • Maria Flores, legislative representative to the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA). Flores will serve the second year of a two-year term as Legislative Representative.