October 2018

Dear Green Mountain Community —

As an educator, the fall season has always been an interesting and introspective time for me.  When the summer growing season ends and we harvest our gardens and orchards, paradoxically at school we are planting seeds of student growth and beginning another year.  Teachers and principals plan and prepare through the summer to be ready to nurture our students through another year of academic and social growth.   My garden grows best when I plan ahead, and so do our students.

Each year there are changes to our program that require our staff to make adjustments or learn new techniques.  We have been making changes to meet the requirements of Common Core Curriculum standards over the past few years. This year our school is implementing a change in our English Language Arts curriculum to bring all our grades into alignment with Common Core requirements of our state.

Our teachers this year are using the Reading Street program that integrates reading instruction, spelling, vocabulary, and writing into a single systemic program.  This is a big change for our school, but promises improved student success once fully implemented.  As school systems have come into alignment with Common Core,  curriculum and teaching sometimes looks different.  For our teachers, this means learning to use new materials, delivering instruction in new ways, and setting aside some old practices.  It’s hard work for teachers, but it pays big dividends in student achievement.  The districts that have posted the biggest improvements in student achievement are using similar common-core-aligned programs in all subjects.

One of the benefits of the Reading Street program that we have implemented is that students and parents can access the entire curriculum at home through the Internet.  This is also true for our enVision Math curriculum.  There are lessons available online, along with electronic versions of the textbooks.  We hope that these resources will help parents to be partners in the education of their students.

Of course, new curriculum means that the old must go away.   Like the orchardist that  knows pruning the tree will improve harvests, principals and teachers have to embrace promising curriculum changes even though it is difficult to let go of those familiar materials.  Changes tend to invigorate educational programs, just as pruning can invigorate a poor-producing apple tree.  Like the orchardist, we make  well-reasoned changes to our program and then wait months to see the results.

In the October 2018 issue of the Gazette, we share our School Report Card with our community.  We are always proud of the achievement of our students, but our report card for 2017-18 shows the need for change, hence our new curriculum.

Now, where are my pruning shears?

Cordially,
Tyson Vogeler

 

July 2018

Dear Green Mountain Community —

Wrapping up my third year as the superintendent of this special little school district gives me good reason to reflect on many things, including my own personal and professional goals, our progress as a district, and what the future holds for public schools and our small rural school.

As a small school and district, our students and staff enjoy many benefits not always recognized or necessarily common in larger systems.  Smaller class sizes, personalized attention, personal relationships, and a generally more informal approach are all reasons small schools often work so well.  Teachers have more flexibility to tailor instruction to specific student needs, and we can easily provide intervention when necessary.  Our students succeed because it is difficult for them to fall between the cracks in this rather intimate environment.  These same benefits are why I have chosen to work in small districts throughout my career — small schools are simply the best!

At the same time, however, small schools and districts come with a unique set of challenges.  We don’t enjoy the efficiencies and benefits of scaling, which means we may not have the same level of resources as large districts.  Our staff must wear multiple hats, and our resources are often stretched quite thin.

I am reminded often in my work that our little district is not an island unto itself.  We are a public agency that must adhere to many state and federal requirements which guide and constrain what we do and how we operate.  This too is one of the challenges of small schools — balancing regulatory requirements with our small-school approach.  That isn’t always an easy task, and there are growing pains as public schools become ever more regulated.  Unfortunately, our district’s local control is eroded a bit more each year, and not all legislators are friends of the small districts.  Small districts around the state are having to make changes in order to remain viable in the future, and we must also make changes.

Your school board and I are in the process of looking forward and thinking about the future of Green Mountain School.  We are all committed to providing our children the best possible education and insuring our district is responsive to the evolving needs of the community.  Having addressed recent fiscal concerns, we are turning next to improving instruction and maintaining or improving our facilities. Looking forward, we realize our program must prepare our students for life and the careers of the future, and our facilities need to support changing educational needs and priorities.

Along these lines, I hope you will read in this issue about the proposed capital projects levy and legislative changes to  school funding. 

Thank you for your continued support of our district! As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns you have.

Cordially,
Tyson Vogeler
Superintendent

 

March 2017

Dear Green Mountain Parents and
Community Members —

Having all weathered the snow and ice storms of this winter, we can all certainly look forward to the warmer weather promised by the arrival of Spring! I notice the buds starting to swell on my fruit trees — and the sprouting daffodils and blossoming crocus are signs that changes in our weather are just around the corner.  The change of season is coming.

It has been said that change is the only thing that is consistent in the education business, and that is true this year for sure. With the new presidential administration comes the possibility of new federal priorities in education, including reducing the burdensome federal regulations that challenge innovation and efficiency in schools. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) eliminated some regulations that had made it difficult to hire highly effective teachers, and our new administration promises new ideas.

I am hopeful that this loosening of the federal reins is the beginning of a trend to return control of schools to local administrators, teachers, school boards, and communities. We know that teachers perform best when they have the freedom to innovate in their classrooms and to adapt to the individual needs of their students. We are fortunate  that the small size of Green Mountain School allows us great flexibility in teaching and learning.  The achievement of our students demonstrates that  our talented teachers deliver effective instruction every day!

In this issue, we present our district’s report card for 2016, which summarizes enrollment and testing results.  While there is always room for improvement, I am pleased with the achievement I see daily in our students, and I am continually impressed by the instruction provided by our teachers and support staff.  We PAWSitively have the best students and teachers in our region!

In this issue, I hope you will read about the applied science the middle school students have been doing with Salmon In The Classroom Program. I encourage you to mark your calendars for our Spring Carnival on March 24 — yet another change!

Thank you for your continued support of our district. As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns you have.

Cordially,
Tyson Vogeler
Superintendent

 

October 2016

Dear Green Mountain Parents and
Community Members —

Writing in my first issue of the Gazette last year, I reflected about what I call the “unwritten curriculum” of public schools.  To me, that unwritten curriculum encompasses all the important lessons we learn through attending a public school.  Those lessons include how to work with others, follow rules and instructions, put forth reasonable effort, and be a productive citizen.  I have always believed that the unwritten curriculum is as important as everything in our textbooks that we teach kids.  Knowledge and skills might get you the job, but work ethic and people skills build your career!

At Green Mountain School, we are working as a staff this year to turn the unwritten curriculum into a written curriculum for our students.  Each month, our staff is highlighting a character trait we believe is important to the success of students.  Our teachers collaborated this summer to identify eight traits they believe students need to have to reach their fill potential:

· Respect

· Responsibility

· Gratitude

· Commitment

· Perseverance

· Integrity

· Teamwork

· Self-Control

 

Each month, one of our classes will prepare an assembly that teaches students about the character trait and why it is important.  Each teacher also is preparing lessons for the classroom that reinforce these traits and teach about them.

Research shows that character education has a positive effect on student learning.  Perhaps it is because character education also has a positive effect on student attitudes about life and school. However,  most importantly, character education helps students to be more successful at everything in life.

We have dubbed this program P.A.W.S. — for Positive Attitudes Will Succeed.  So when we say we are trying to create “PAWSitively Powerful citizens and future leaders,”  that’s really our goal!

We hope you will join us in reinforcing these important traits with your students, and give your students the recognition they deserve when you see them exercise these traits.

Cordially,

Tyson Vogeler

Superintendent

*******

 

August 2016

Dear Green Mountain Parents and
Community Members —

As I reflect back on a first year as superintendent of the Green Mountain School District, and look forward to another year about to begin, I am filled with a spectrum of thoughts and emotions.

Perhaps most importantly, I am thankful to have the opportunity to work at and lead a school that is committed to providing a high quality education for our amazing students. Green Mountain has a talented and dedicated staff, and they work incredibly hard for our students. 

Likewise, I am very thankful to be a superintendent in a district where the community is so supportive of the school and its programs.  From the passage of our M&O levy, to the support from our PTSO and parents, the community support I have observed in the past year is nothing less than incredible. 

Of the accomplishments of our students, I am suitably impressed and proud.  Our school was again recognized as a school of Distinction last year because of high test scores.  Observing the diligent efforts of students on the Smarter Balanced Assessments last spring, I expect they will again give us reason to be impressed by their performance.  I’m definitely proud of the efforts they put forth on these tests.

Looking forward to the upcoming year, I am excited for changes coming to our school.  Inside this Gazette, you can read about a new breakfast program, new staff, and new learning opportunities for students.  But, I’m also excited that our teachers have a plan to continue working on leadership and character education with our students.  As I’ve written before, there are many non-academic lessons at school which are as important as the 3 Rs.

At Green Mountain School, we’re growing “PAWsitively powerful” future leaders and citizens, in addition to teaching the academic lessons that form a foundation for lifelong learning.  That’s something to be proud of!

Cordially,

Tyson Vogeler

Superintendent

 

January 2016

Dear Green Mountain Parents and Community Members:

 Happy New Year!  Here we are in January already, and quickly approaching the mid-point of our school year.  Each year I’m amazed at how time seems to move faster — even here on the mountain, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

There is a distinct benefit to our rural small-school environment that benefits kids in many ways.  Perhaps that is why Green Mountain was again recognized as a School of Distinction. 

Many of you were at our Christmas Program in December when ESD Superintendent Tim Merlino presented the award to the school.  He noted that only one other school in the state had been recognized as a School of Distinction five times.  That speaks volumes about our amazing staff and students!

In this issue, you will read about some of the educational opportunities we provide for the children in our community.  Our middle school staff are offering new electives this trimester, including learning about small engines and a guitar/ukulele class.  In third grade, students are busy studying the anatomy and biology of crawfish.  And in fifth grade,  students are reading and acting out plays.

The new year also brings with it many changes to public education, with new Federal legislation.  No Child Left Behind has been replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with many potentially positive changes from a bi-partisan bill.  Senator Patty Murray and her staff were instrumental in writing ESSA, which does away with many Federal education mandates and provides for more control at the state and local levels.

The new year also brings another session for the Washington State Legislature, which continues to grapple with the issue of school funding.  While it is a short 60-day legislative session, the issues being dealt with will greatly influence education in our state, and in our local district.  I get many questions about school funding, so in this issue of the Gazette is an article that sheds a bit of light on the complex topic.

Thank you to our parents and community for your continued support of our school!  As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback you might have.  I enjoy hearing from you.

Cordially,

Tyson Vogeler
Superintendent

 

 

 

 

December 2015

 

A Season of Thanks and Giving

 

Dear Green Mountain Parents and Community Members —

 
As we look back on Thanksgiving and forward toward Christmas and the New Year, I offer you Seasons Greetings and wish you and your family all the best this time of year brings with it. 

This is truly a season of thanks, and daily I am thankful to be working with the wonderful children, parents, and staff at Green Mountain School.  We have an incredible school and community, and together we give our children a quality education in an environment where they flourish both academically and socially. 

We should all be thankful that we are able to maintain our small school and independent district in a world of ever larger schools and huge school districts.  Much of what we do for children at Green Mountain would be a challenge in larger districts.  Our school is special, and I am reminded of that often in conversations with parents and colleagues.

This is also a season of giving, and on a daily basis I am impressed by what the community and the Green Mountain staff give to our students.  Our teachers and para-educators give their time, energy, and caring to children.  They make sure students learn and achieve at the highest level possible.  This isn’t easy work, but it pays great dividends.

Largely because of the dedication and efforts of our staff, our small school has once again been recognized as a School of Distinction by the state.  This is an honor reserved for only the top 5% of schools with the best test score improvements over the past five years.  But as I often say, the task of educating children is a partnership — so thank you to all the parents who have supported classroom learning and the work of teachers.  We share this award with all of you!

Inside this issue, you can read about the proposed replacement levy that will be on the ballot in February.  Although it reflects an increase over the existing levy, it is necessary to maintain our current level of services to students and to insure that Green Mountain School District is fiscally solvent.  We will have upcoming levy information meetings, but should you have questions, please feel free to call or email me any time.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Christmas Program on December 17 at 7:00 p.m.  If our paths don’t cross before the break, I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

             With Gratitude,

            Tyson Vogeler

            Superintendent