K-1 Highly Capable Services referrals due October 29

OSD Student Outcomes poster listing six student outcomes as referenced in the link in the post


The information in this blog post is being shared by the Teaching & Learning team with all staff, considering:

  • many staff live in our community and might know a student in kindergarten or first grade who should be recommended for Highly Capable Services.
  • our emphasis on increasing access to Highly Capable Services in alignment with Student Outcomes #2 and #4 and the commitments of our Board in our Recovery Plan.

Eligibility Reflection Questions

Do you know a student in kindergarten or 1st grade who:

  • Thinks up unusual ways to solve difficult problems?
  • Generates and comprehends complex and abstract ideas?
  • Exhibits feelings and opinions from multiple perspectives?
  • Thinks logically and wants things to make sense?
  • Prefers the company of intellectual peers?
  • Is an expert who abstracts beyond the field?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, please consider referring the student for identification for Highly Capable Services.

Referral Process & Timeline

Referrals may come from community members, teachers, other staff, parents/guardians and students. The referral window for students in kindergarten and first grade to be considered for Highly Capable Services is open now and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 29, 2021.

  • Curious what the steps for identification and timeline look like for this process? Details can be found here.
  • To learn more about OSD’s highly capable services, go to Olympia School District’s Highly Capable Services webpage, where you will find information regarding identification and services, as well as links to the referral form.
  • Physical copies of the referral form are available and can be picked up at the front desk of the Knox Administrative Center located at 111 Bethel St. N.E. in Olympia. 

Who to Contact

If you have questions, please contact members of the Teaching & Learning team through our general email address: Knox-K12TeachLearn@osd.wednet.edu.

Related Blog Posts from the T&L team

Indigenous Peoples Day is October 11

Indigenous Peoples Day image courtesy of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

On October 11, some people celebrate Columbus Day, while others celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. It is extremely important to understand that Columbus Day, like Thanksgiving, when traditionally recognized in the mainstream United States does not fully represent contentment, good times or thankfulness for all Americans. 

In fact, oftentimes the oppression and adversities experienced by Indigenous during both the “discovery” of America, and the arrival of Pilgrims have been left out of American history or ignored. Because of this, many cities in the United States are moving toward celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day and replacing Columbus Day. Olympia is one of the many cities that celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day (Resource: Related Olympian Article).

As a system, we are actively planning for aligned efforts that will support an updated curriculum in Social Studies and an inclusive vision for learning aligned with the OSPI Washington State Learning Standards (WSLSs) for Social Studies (2018) and C3 Framework

It is very healthy to inquire and push back on traditions and systems that might need re-examining, as we continue to grow as a system. Just because we have engaged in practices a certain way for years, does not mean it is the most appropriate way. To help us in this journey, we have the Olympia School District (OSD) Race & Decision-Making Tool that can support reflection as we seek to provide inclusive decision-making structures and opportunities. Within our committees, teams and schools, we each serve as leaders — each educator within OSD is invited to consider where the OSD Race & Decision-Making Tool might fit within your leadership toolkit.

Related Resources for Use with Students

Educating students on different cultures and holidays, including religious holidays, in alignment with the WSLSs for a given subject area is perfectly fine and encouraged. Below are some resources “for use with adults” that can support considerations as each of us is careful not to offend, show bias or proselytize. In addition to delving into one of the resources below, we encourage educators to ask questions, seek to understand and model life-long learning with colleagues and students. 

Related Resources for Use with Adults

The texts below are available within our Gale Professional Growth e-Library. View a video overview for accessing Gale e-Library through Schoology (4 minutes), or access information about the Gale e-Library. In order of publication year:

Removing Labels, Grades K12: 40 Techniques to Disrupt Negative Expectations About Students and Schools (2021)

Early learning grants available through Olympia Tumwater Foundation

Applications are due by October 15 for early learning grants from the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.

Individual grants vary in size from approximately $300 to $3,000. Applications will be evaluated based on the following goals of the grant program:

  • To stimulate student creativity and motivation to learn.
  • To enhance the current learning environment.
  • To leave a lasting impact on as many students as possible.

Information and applications are available on the Scholarships & Grants webpage at www.OlyTumFoundation.org.

Learn about this fall’s Healthy Youth Survey

Three high school students look at notebooks while standing outdoors on campus

The Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) is a collaborative effort of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, and Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The Healthy Youth Survey provides important survey results about the health of adolescents in Washington. County prevention coordinators, community mobilization coalitions, community public health and safety networks, and others use this information to guide policy and programs that serve youth.

Who: 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students whose schools opted to do the Panorama Survey across Washington will take the Healthy Youth Survey.
When: October 11 – 29, 2021 
Other Details: Students will complete the survey online in their schools on one of the days between October 11 and October 29.

For more information in multiple languages, including frequently asked questions, click on one of the PDFs below that contains information posted on the Healthy Youth Survey website:

More questions? Please connect with your school’s assessment coordinator.

Learn how employees can access phone interpreting services to communicate with families

Hand holding an I-phone with blank screen

Language Link is a phone interpretation service available to all OSD Staff Members to use when communicating with families who communicate in a target language other than English and/or are multilingual.

Accessing Language Link

Calling Language Link allows for an interpreter to join in your conversation to bridge your communication with families who speak a target language other than English.

Information about how to access this service by phone, including unique codes to enter for each school and/or support building, are posted on the staff intranet. Be sure to log in to Google to access the Telephone Interpretation Service webpage on the staff intranet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we use Language Link to support an in-person conversation with a family or community member?

Yes! Follow the easy steps posted on the Telephone Interpretation Service page on the staff intranet.

Is there someone on campus who knows about Language Link?

In September, the Teaching & Learning (T&L) Team will partner with Family Liaisons (elementary schools) and Counselors (secondary schools) on training. At that point, educators in these roles can serve as on-site supports.  

Who to Contact

If educators have questions specific to Language Line, please contact:

Instructional coaches join OSD ready to partner with teachers

Classroom photo of teaching presenting information on a white board and two students looking on from their seats

Olympia School District recently launched a new Instructional Coaching Model to provide K-12 teachers with ongoing, job embedded professional development in support of student success. This updated approach to Instructional Coaching is grounded in our Board’s Recovery Plan. OSD’s instructional coaching team includes six full-time elementary coaches, four secondary coaches, and four K-12 coaches who support specific programs. The team is connected to Teaching and Learning.  The vision is that eventually every school will have an instructional coach so that every teacher will have access to a coach.

What do Instructional Coaches do?

Coaches partner with educators to engage, equip and empower teachers to incorporate research-based instructional practices into their teaching. They serve as co-learners, reflective partners and consulting partners while honoring teacher-directed interests and goal setting. Coaches collaborate with teachers in 1:1, small group and large group settings in support of classroom management, content, instruction, and assessment for learning and equity.  

Who are the Instructional Coaches?

Elementary Instructional Coaches include:

  • Carolyn Balderston (LP Brown)
  • Angela Leonard (Garfield)
  • Ashley Patrick (Hansen)
  • Chelsey Schneidemann (McLane)
  • Jennifer Cronquist (Roosevelt)
  • Melissa Hayes (Madison)

Secondary Instructional Coaches include:

  • Casey Church (Math)
  • Malia Lee (Humanities)
  • Katie Savinski (Humanities)
  • Paula Perryman (Career & Technical Education)

K-12 Instructional Coaches include:

  • Carmen Kardokus (Science)
  • Rachel Diane Brock (Intervention & Extension)
  • Kris Norelius (Social Emotional Learning)
  • Susan Williams (Professional Growth & New Teacher Induction)

For an overview of instructional coaching see “Coaching — Not Just for Athletes” in Instructional Coaching in Action: An Integrated Approach That Transforms Thinking, Practice, and Schools found in the Gale Professional Growth e-Library.

Teaching & Learning team restructure

Line of sharp colored pencils with reflection

This is the first in a series of blog posts, submitted by the Teaching & Learning (T&L) Team, about the T&L Team restructure that is taking place.

Timely Information

The best way to get support from someone related to any of the services, programs or content areas under the umbrella of the T&L Team — as listed in this blog post — is to email: Knox-K12TeachLearn@osd.wednet.edu.

Future updates will contain information about updated website structures and communications as part of a multi-tiered system of support for internal communications from the T&L Team.


This restructure is grounded in expectations from House Bill 1368 -– COVID -– Federal Funding (2021) Sec 12, which created a new section of Chapter 43.70 RCW, setting forth certain requirements for the appropriation of federal funds, including that school districts submit an Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan to OSPI by June 1, 2021, to address student needs resulting from school building closures and extended time in remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This state law included specific requirements for school districts’ Academic and Student Well-Being Plans, as defined by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In response to these expectations, the district Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) learned from stakeholders across our schools and community during the 2020-21 school year to inform the development of a multiyear vision for a Recovery Plan passed by our OSD Board at the end of May 2021.

Dr. Hannah Gbenro, who started on July 1 with Olympia School District (OSD), has been charged with partnering to lead significant Recovery Plan efforts. Along these lines, as our Chief Academic Officer (CAO), Dr. Gbenro has re-structured the T&L Team, is consistently learning from stakeholders to establish updated systems of support, and is committed to the multiyear vision for recovery (Recovery Plan) in the interest of student success.

Key Updates

The T&L Team is working to update website content to provide clarity and supports aligned with the information in this blog post. In the meantime, the team wants to ensure some key pieces are communicated.

  1. Based on lessons learned in spring — through site visits, reading previous surveys, listening to focus groups, learning from committee meetings — the T&L Team will take a
    • Departmentalized approach. This means all services, programs, and content areas that traditionally fall under “Teaching and Learning” will take an integrated approach. The formal title to this strategy is the “human-centered design” approach, where the end-users (students, educators, families) are prioritized at the center of all action-planning and decision-making.
    • Data-informed and results-driven approach. This means looking at data from across our system, holding up against research and external expectations, and prioritizing the rights of stakeholders within these considerations.
  2. T&L Team Members recently engaged in visioning efforts to identify a Mission & Vision that would best support partnership for the success of the multiyear journey toward realizing our OSD Recovery Plan. While the T&L Team is working on updated website information where this information will be accessible over time, below is the Mission & Vision for moving forward:
    • Vision: To partner with stakeholders in the interest of furthering our Student Outcomes through the lens of equity.
    • Mission: With equity at the forefront, our T&L Team mission is to equip, empower, and collaborate with stakeholders for increased individual and collective potential for the benefit of the Whole Child, Whole Educator, & Whole Community. 
  3. The services, programs, and content areas that now fall under the Teaching & Learning Team include:
    • Curriculum & Instruction across all content & programs spanning K – 12 (Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Social Emotional Learning, Health Education, Music Education, Physical Education, Sexual Health Education, STEM, World Languages, Visual Arts)
    • Title/LAP Intervention Services
    • English Learner Services & Migrant Education Services;
    • Implementation of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
    • Professional Growth
    • Assessment, Data, & Research
    • Career & Technical Education (CTE) Programming
    • College & Career Readiness (CCR) Services
    • Indian Education & Tribal Relations
    • Student Mentoring Programming
    • Highly Capable Services
    • Instructional Coaching Services
    • Family & Community Partnerships
    • School Improvement Planning (SIP) and District Improvement Planning (DIP) Processes

Stay tuned for future blog updates about the T&L Team restructuring, in support of the Recovery Plan and partnering with stakeholders to further our Whole Child focused Student Outcomes.

Resources for interfaith celebrations, holidays and observances

White ceramic teacup sits on railing with mountains and lake in the distance
The Olympia School District is an increasingly diverse community, and we have students with different home languages and family traditions.

As part of the district’s work related to the board-approved Student Outcomes, specifically Outcome 1, Indicator 1, we annually provide employees with resources of various interfaith celebrations, as well as holidays and observances. Student Outcome 1 states “Our Students Will: Be Compassionate and Kind.” Indicator 1 states our students will “Be aware of and appreciate one’s similarities and differences with others.” The OSD District Improvement Plan also identifies staff will be provided “a list of religious/cultural observances throughout the year with notations of when to be mindful of fasting periods or other events.”

Schools are not being asked to celebrate or recognize religious events. Rather, these resources are designed to make staff aware of interfaith calendar events and observances so you can be mindful and understanding throughout the year. Please keep the dates included in the resources below in mind as you schedule school events to avoid conflicts.

One of the newest and most comprehensive resources shared with us is a “Diversity Calendar” published by Cultures Connecting.

The 2021-22 calendar includes notations of observances with fasting periods and/or days that work or school should be suspended, and provides direct links to information about each observance. In the opening page of the calendar, the Mission Statement reads: “The purpose of this calendar is to address and support the diversity of students, staff, and families in K-12 education settings and beyond. We recognize that by increasing our understanding of diverse cultures, group experiences, traditions, values and beliefs, we can enhance our relationships with one another and hence, create culturally responsive environments where everyone feels valued and respected.” Download the PDF for easy reference throughout the school year.

Other resources include:

Remember you can always return to the staff blog at any future date to access these resources. We will continue to update this list as we become aware of new resources.

Grants available from Thurston County School Retirees’ Association

Applications are being accepted for the Thurston County School Retirees’ Association Elementary, Middle School and High School Mini-Grant for 2021-22. Grants are provided for school employees to acquire materials or provide experiences for their students above and beyond what is paid for by district funds.

This year, members are eligible for awards of up to $500 and non-members are eligible for up to $250. Applications can be found and submitted online at www.wssra-units.org/thurstoncounty.

Applications must be received by October 13, 2021.

New e-Library supports professional development

Laptop open with cup on one side and pencil holder and books and plant on other on a table

Olympia School District has launched a new e-Library for employees to use at no cost. This professional development library, purchased with grant money, includes full texts from publishers that can be downloaded onto an employee’s computer and/or Google Drive. At the outset, the library of nearly 600 titles contains information mostly relevant to teaching staff and school administrators. Plans are to expand the library collection to offer materials suitable for all certificated, classified and administrative staff.

Log into the Gale e-Library with your OSD Google Account

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will I access the books? When can I access books?
A: The Gale e-Library involves a Single Sign On through OSD Google accounts.

Q: Can I listen to the books? Can I download the books?
A: Yes and yes. Employees can listen to the books online. You can download PDF versions of each chapter onto your computer and/or into your Google Drive. Educators can also link PDF chapters from Schoology.

Q: Can I print part of the book?
A: Yes, you can download the PDF version of any chapter (which looks just like the printed version in the book itself) and choose to physically print it off. This can be a particularly useful strategy when engaging a group of educators in a close read of a portion of a text or a diagram from a book.

Q: Can multiple people access the same book at the same time?
A: Yes, there is no limit to how many people can access a book at a given time nor to how many times a book can be accessed.

Q: Are people tracking which titles I access?
A: No. Just like the public library does not allow reports to be analyzed by the individual user, the Gale e-Library vendor does not provide OSD individual user data about what content is accessed by whom.

Q: What titles/books will I have access to? Will new titles be added from year-to-year?
A: Initially, the district has access to 581 titles. As funds allow and quality publications are released, Teaching & Learning will continue to expand this professional growth library to support all OSD educators (certificated, classified and administrative).

Q: What are some top titles I might be interested in checking out?
A: View a sampling of highlights you might be interested in on the staff intranet Teaching & Learning department Gale e-Library webpage. Remember to log in to the staff intranet using your OSD Google account (On the top of the Home page of the district website, click “Login.” Click the red rectangle titled “Sign in with Google.” Click the “Intranet” heading near the top of the OSD Home page, “Departments,” and “Teaching & Learning.” The Gale e-Library is among the department subpages located on the far left side of the page.