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:

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

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.

April 14 is deadline to submit referrals for high capable services

Do you know a student 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 the questions above, please consider referring that student for identification for highly capable services. Referrals may come from the community, teachers and/or parents/guardians. The referral window is open now for student identification for highly capable services and will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Interested K-12 families are welcome to visit our Olympia School District’s Highly Capable Program webpage for complete information regarding identification and services as well as access to the referral forms. Hard copies of referral forms can be found at your student’s school building as well as the Knox Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia. Curious what the steps for identification, and timeline, look like for this process? Details can be found here.

If you have questions, please contact the Highly Capable Program at:

Oly Bear preschool registration March 22-April 2 for OSD employees

Oly Bear Preschool registration is from March 22-April 2, 2021 for OSD employees and their families.

Details about the preschool, including ages served, tuition and more is on the OlyBear webpage on the Olympia High School website. For more information, contact Preschool Director Shelly Wilson at or (360) 596-7021.

To register, download, fill out and return the Oly Bear registration form to Oly Bear preschool located at Olympia High School.

In-person hybrid learning expands to grades one and two February 22

Hybrid Learning Status Dial (Level 3), which is when the district is in hybrid and has brought back its youngest learners

In-person hybrid learning will expand to include grades one and two starting on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Note: Kindergartners at Lincoln Options and the Olympia Regional Learning Academy will also start in-person learning on February 22 at the same time as first graders.

Full-time distance learning will continue for families that have chosen to have their students learn remotely.

The expansion of hybrid in-person learning to include first and second graders follows the initial rollout of hybrid learning on February 1, 2021 to OSD preschoolers and kindergartners. Start dates for all other elementary, middle and high school grades are to be determined.

Be sure to visit the district website In-Person and Remote Learning Updates webpage for the latest updates and guidance.

Don’t forget to complete staff survey by 8 p.m. tonight, Dec. 4

graphs and paper

If you haven’t done so already, we want to remind and encourage all employees districtwide to complete a survey to share their thoughts about the effectiveness of the current remote learning model. We also ask that you answer questions that relate to general topics such as school/work climate, and cultural awareness and action. Survey responses will be anonymous. Data gathered will be used to inform planning going forward during the Pandemic response and gather baseline data to use as we strive to improve all workplaces in Olympia.

The deadline to complete this staff survey is 8 p.m. tonight, Friday, December 4.

  • Certificated staff onlyClick to take the survey
  • All other OSD employeesClick to take the survey (Note: For employees who work in support buildings, when you see questions that reference “school,” please answer as they relate to your support building site).

Shift to hybrid learning surveys sent to grades 1-12

On November 20, the district emailed families of students in grades 1-12 requesting they complete a form in Skyward Family Access indicating their preference for hybrid or full-time distance learning once the district is able to shift to a hybrid learning model. The surveys are due by Friday, December 4.

Staff interested in seeing questions and background information shared with families on the form may see the information on the staff Intranet. Be sure to log in to Google to access the staff Intranet. The forms, which are formatted sightly different in the Skyward Family Access tool but contain the same information, are posted on the Surveys webpage in the Communications department folder.