MSD meeting discusses future of MPHS cafeteria

Jim Baker, Marysville School District finance director, hears input on the Marylsville-Pilchuck cafteria during a community meeting held, Monday, Dec. 11, 2014, at Cedarcrest Middle School. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Jim Baker, Marysville School District finance director, hears input on the Marylsville-Pilchuck cafteria during a community meeting held, Monday, Dec. 11, 2014, at Cedarcrest Middle School. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

MARYSVILLE – “Our community has been shaken, shaken very hard by the events of October 24,” said new Recovery Directory Mary Schoenfeldt for the Marysville School District during a community meeting held on December 11, at Cedarcrest Middle School.

The meeting featured two topic agendas. For the first hour parents learned how to help their children process grief during the holidays. The remainder of the meeting focused on the future of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria. Parents were able to voice their opinions during mini breakout sessions on what the school district should do to move forward.

The cafeteria was the location where 15-year-old Tulalip tribal member, Jaylen Fryberg, shot six students, killing five including himself. Since the October 24 incident the cafeteria has remained closed out of respect for students and the victims of the shooting. Now the school district is holding surveys asking the Marysville/Tulalip communities what they would like the future of the cafeteria to entail.

Before the breakout sessions, Schoenfeldt spoke to parents about depression and warning signs to look for in their children as the process of grief continues. “Your children will have a loss of concentration leading to short tempers or quick tempers. Watch for signs of grieving and depression in your children as suicide can become an issue.”

Schoenfeldt explained that students might have a hard time coping with the range of emotions that they are experiencing and may not know how to begin a conversation about how they are feeling. Many parents discussed the apprehension their children feel while at the school and trying to settle back into a routine. One mother expressed that her daughter texts frequently throughout the day as a way to cope and that she does not want to eat lunch at the school.

Marysville School District held a community meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, 2014, at Cedarcrest Middle School to hear community input on MPHS cafeteria future. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Marysville School District held a community meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, 2014, at Cedarcrest Middle School to hear community input on  future of MPHS cafeteria. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

“Acknowledge that you are also having a hard time coping with your feelings. Acknowledging it with your child helps to make it a topic for discussion. Be available emotionally to your kids to listen to them,” said Schoenfeldt.

Following a brief Q&A with Schoenfeldt, parents were then invited to share their thoughts regarding the status of the cafeteria, which was built in 1970. The school district is seeking state funding to help rebuild the cafeteria.

Students temporarily are eating in the gym. “Right now we are just talking, where do we want the kids to eat? It can’t keep being at the gym forever,” said Dr. Becky Berg, Marysville School District Superintendent.

To decide if the cafeteria should be completely torn down or remodeled, the district had the community participate in a Thoughtexchange survey on the district’s website. “The intent is to get all our voice to the table and also include the students’ voices,” said Berg. The survey, which closed December 12, will be presented to the board.

“The intent of tonight, at this point, is to use these breakout sessions for those who haven’t been online yet and discuss possibilities that we haven’t considered,” said Berg.

Many participants expressed they would like to see the cafeteria radically changed in appearance so it would not be such a visible reminder of the October 24 event. Other suggestions included building in a new location, building in a contingency area or simply tearing it down.

The district is currently reviewing the surveys and waiting for funding approval. Berg remarked that while changes will take some time, it is being fast tracked for the students. “This will not be an overnight process. We are all first timers at this and hopefully last timers at this. Let’s keep talking and supporting each other.”

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

 

 

Bridging community and education

Dr. Berg welcomes students back to school during tour of the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

TULALIP – “Our club!” the children exclaimed as they greeted Dr. Becky Berg, Superintendent of the Marysville School District. Dr. Berg’s visit to the club was part of a back to school kick off on Tuesday, August 19.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

“We have been working all summer to make sure our schools are ready for you all,” Dr. Berg said. “We are all very excited to see you back at school in two weeks.”

Dr. Berg’s tour of the club is part of an effort to create an afterschool community that encourages educational success. Statistics show that students who attend Boys and Girls Clubs perform better in all areas of learning.

“These numbers from the Arlington School District compare Boys and Girls Club kids and kids that don’t come to the club,” said Bill Tsoukalas, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “At fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, you see a constant trend across reading, math and science where club kids score much higher.”

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids.

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Excited by the data from Arlington, Dr. Berg intends to look at similar demographics for Tulalip students in Marysville schools to see if there is a similar trend. Tsoukalas and Tulalip Boys and Girls Club Director, Chuck Thacker, believe there is.

Thacker said, “We see so much improvement in our kids. We bring them into a different environment, providing support for the kids.”

“This is their club,” he continued, “you heard them say it. You will notice that the walls are not drawn on and marked up, trash is picked up. They take pride in their club, and that’s what makes it successful.”

That way of thinking was instilled in Boys and Girls Club kids more than seven years ago by Don “Penoke” Hatch, long time supporter for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

“Kids come here to have fun and to be in a safe place afterschool. But we also want them to learn while they’re here,” Tsoukalas added.

The tour moved into the computer lab as Dr. Berg was shown all of the resources available to children at the club. The newly-renovated lab is complete with brand new computers, two main monitors, and a smart-screen for interactive teaching.

“This is all state of the art. We want to be up and ready, fully functional for the open house in a few weeks,” Tsoukalas proudly explained. “We’ve invited both of our senators, Cantwell being a huge proponent of programs like ours.”

Hatch said, “I think the tribe ought to be proud of what they’ve got here, what they’re doing here for our kids.”

Dr. Berg was thanked for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, and was presented with a special gift, a traditional hand drum with original artwork by Heritage High School senior Ayrik Miranda, who is employed with the club through the summer.

 

No More Reform! Time for teachers

Becky Berg opens a meeting between Marysville School District staff and State Legislators.

Becky Berg opens a meeting between Marysville School District staff and State Legislators.

Marysville School District Superintendent meets with teachers, staff, and legislators

Article and photo by Andrew Gobin

Marysville – The structure of the school day may be changing. There is a discussion at the capitol in which Washington State Legislators are considering lengthening the school day and adding 80 hours to the 1000-hour yearly quota class instruction time.  Dr. Becky Berg, superintendent for the Marysville School District (MSD), invited legislators, community leaders, administrative staff, and members of the teaching faculty to come together on January 6th to discuss the needs of the schools, specifically addressing the 6-hour day and 1080, reforms to the school day that are currently being discussed in Washington State. The meeting also emphasized the need to pass the levy this year.

The 6-hour day and 1080 discussion, as it is called, would lengthen the school day to include 6 hours of instruction time, as opposed to the 5.5 required now, and would add another 80 hours a year to the time teachers and students are required to spend in the classroom together. Consequently, the proposed changes do away with early release days and teacher workshops.

“We (teachers) rely on early release days to come up with time for collaboration and professional development. Enough with reform, if change needs to happen it needs be on a local level. People at the capitol don’t have the answers. People in D.C. don’t know what we need,” said Arden Watson, president of the Marysville Education Association.

Getchell High School Principal Shawn Stevenson agreed, “When you ask teachers what they need, more than anything they need time. Time to be proficient in their job, time to develop a teaching plan, and time to adjust and rework that plan so that students can succeed.”

Marysville Getchell High School Principal Shawn Stevenson explains the teachers' need for time outside of the classroom.

Marysville Getchell High School Principal Shawn Stevenson explains the teachers’ need for time outside of the classroom.

Jodi Runyon, executive assistant to the MSD Superintendent, echoed, “With funding from the SIG grants, Quil Ceda and Tulalip elementary staff had the resources and freedom to redesign their schools. They were able to create planning time throughout the school day. Now they have enormous student success, which has recently been recognized on a national level. The only question now is where do we find the funding as the SIG grant has come to an end.”

The SIG grant is a three-year federal funding program for schools in need, which culminated this last November with a visit for the President of the National Education Association.

In addition to time for teacher planning and development, the levy was strongly emphasized as a crucial component for the MSD. For example, the technology aspect of the levy will help students and teachers access a state of the art fiber-optic network that is already in place district wide. The problem is there are no points of access. The infrastructure is there, yet the classrooms are not equipped to engage with the network. Currently, it is compared to a freeway with no on ramp. No one has access.

“It goes beyond the school day. At sporting events and after school hours, our Wi-Fi will be open to those at the school. Free Wi-Fi for parents and students, filtered of course, so to eliminate problems of access at home,” said Berg.

Dean Ledford called the levy “paramount to the success of teachers and students.”

The legislators and leaders that attended included Washington State Representatives Mike Sells and Hans Dunshee, Snohomish County Executive and former Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, Senator John McCoy, 189 Educational Service District Superintendent Jerry Jenkins, former Mayor of Marysville Dennis Kendall and current Mayor Jon Nehring. They all offered support for what the teachers and staff of the MSD are trying to do, sharing similar concerns about the 6-hour day and 1080 discussion.

Berg sworn in as superintendent

Kirk BoxleitnerDr. Becky Berg is sworn in as superintendent of the Marysville School District by Marysville School Board President Chris Nation on July 8

Kirk Boxleitner
Dr. Becky Berg is sworn in as superintendent of the Marysville School District by Marysville School Board President Chris Nation on July 8

Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — Dr. Becky Berg was sworn in and presided over her first Marysville School Board meeting as superintendent of the school district on Monday, July 8, and as she took the seat of her new role, she was acutely conscious of the legacy that she has to live up to.

“From where the Board and superintendent sit in the Board room, we face a wall with the names of former Board members and superintendents dating back to the early 1960s,” Berg said. “I’ve read those names, and I’m struck by those who have gone before, who have dedicated their lives and careers to public service, and more importantly to the children of the Marysville and Tulalip communities. I am humbled and challenged to take the symbolic baton from those in our past, and to help lead our fine district into the future.”

Although Berg has already interacted with members of those communities on several occasions, including the Marysville School District’s strategic leadership transitioning meeting on June 18, she remains reticent to draw more than general conclusions.

“At this point, I’ve officially been on the job just a few weeks,” Berg said. “In this short amount of time in the position, I would be remiss to make profound judgements about the community that I now call home. I will say, however, that those whom I have met have a deep commitment to children and their futures. They also have a deep local pride and great optimism about the future of Marysville and Tulalip.”

Berg shares that sense of optimism, and echoed Marysville School Board President Chris Nation’s frequent refrain that the community needs to know the district’s success stories.

“Marysville and Tulalip have so much to be proud of, and are second to none in relation to other communities and school districts,” Berg said. “We do have far to go, however, until we reach our mission of each child, every day, as well as 100 percent graduation, but there is simply no reason we cannot reach our goals. I so look forward to coming together to envision the next few years for our school district.”

Berg repeated the quote attributed to Chief Sitting Bull, “Let us put our heads to together and see what life we will make for our children.”

To that end, Berg explained that she and the Board are committed to listening to the community members, families and employees of the district, to understand its history and complexities, while still managing its day-to-day operations and preparing for the reopening of school in September. In the long term, the district is approaching the end of the Board’s four-year goals, as well as the sunsetting of the current maintenance and operations levy.

“[That levy] is vital funding for school districts such as ours,” Berg said. “We will follow the lead of our Board of Directors, as we discuss initiating the next stage of strategic planning, and consideration of renewal of our maintenance and operations levy, which our community has supported for years.”

On Monday, July 15, Berg began a week-long vacation, but far from relaxing on a beach, she’ll be working in Washington, D.C., with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, a nonprofit group with 140,000 members worldwide that’s concerned with issues of learning, teaching and leading. Berg currently volunteers as the president of ASCD.

“I find this kind of working vacation so exhilarating, because when we come together from across the globe, to learn from each other and to advance the mission of success for each and every child, there is no stopping us,” Berg said. “An additional bonus from this kind of volunteer work is that I come home with new ideas and solutions that directly benefit the students of Marysville and Tulalip. I am so energized and thrilled to be a part of the Marysville School District. If anyone has ideas, or would like to meet and discuss the future of our students, just give me a call.”

Berg takes helm at school district

Kirk BoxleitnerTerri Kaltenbach, left, speaks at the June 18 Marysville School District strategic leadership transitioning meeting also attended by incoming Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg, right.

Kirk Boxleitner
Terri Kaltenbach, left, speaks at the June 18 Marysville School District strategic leadership transitioning meeting also attended by incoming Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg, right.

Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — Incoming Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg wound up being one of nine Marysville School District staff members to be introduced, or in some cases reintroduced, to the community during the Marysville School Board’s June 17 meeting, and she would continue to introduce herself to the community through the following evening, during the district’s third strategic leadership transitioning meeting on June 18.

Berg preferred to listen during the brainstorming sessions at the Tulalip Resort on June 18, which were complimented with a review of the two prior community engagement events on May 14 and 16, and spent most of her time during the June 17 Board meeting introducing her team, which includes a few familiar faces in new roles.

“It’s not just me who’s coming on board, but a number of new staff members,” said Berg, who’s retained Ray Houser, former executive director of teaching and learning, as her assistant superintendent. “I don’t have anywhere near the energy level of Ray,” she added, before introducing Cinco Delgado, former principal of Ridgecrest Elementary in the Shoreline School District, as the new executive director of teaching and learning in Houser’s stead.

Former Newport School District Superintendent Jason Thompson is stepping in as executive director of human resources for the Marysville School District, while Liberty Elementary Principal Scott Irwin is stepping up as the district’s categorical programs director.

“Donneta Spath has created CTE programs that have served multiple schools, so she’s a perfect fit for her new role,” Houser said of Spath, who moves from being executive director of the Northwest Career & Technical Academy to being the Marysville School District’s Career and Technical Education Director. “It’s been a brisk year for retirements,” he laughed.

Outgoing Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller and remaining Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Dr. Kyle Kinoshita noted that Sonja Machovina and Gloria Henderson are no newcomers to the Marysville School District, having both started out as teachers at Tulalip Elementary. Machovina will serve as the new assistant principal at Totem Middle School, while Henderson succeeds Irwin as the new principal of Liberty Elementary.

“I’ve been in Sonja’s classes, and her energy and innovation are amazing,” Miller said. “She relates to kids very calmly and effectively.”

“When we heard Gloria was available, we couldn’t resist bringing her back,” Kinoshita said. “And Lynn has got a solid background in instruction.”

Lynn Heimsoth, formerly a teacher in the South Kitsap School District, will serve as principal of Shoultes Elementary.

As of June 24, Berg still has a voicemail box at the Deer Park School District, but she’s already sought to engage with the Marysville community through events such at the June 17 and 18 meetings, not only to keep her previously stated pledge to “hit the ground running, listening and learning,” but also to ensure she’s up to speed when she officially starts her new job on July 1.

“I’m open to meeting with as many constituents and community groups as possible, so that I can learn as much as possible during those golden hours when I’m still new to the school district,” Berg said. “I have no agenda other than continuing the great work that’s already been done in the district, and understanding its future needs.”

During the June 17 Board meeting, Board President Chris Nation reiterated that Berg’s selection was the result of the district’s commitment to soliciting extensive community input, and offered a few final words of tribute to his friend, outgoing Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland.

“We heard all the voices,” Nation said. “That was what Dr. Nyland was all about, was a focus on student achievement, and everyone coming to the table to talk about it together. Our partnership with the Tulalip Tribes is an example of that.”

“I’m delighted with the work that’s been done, especially in partnership with the Tribes,” Nyland said. “Our staff throughout the district have done a great job.”

Berg aims to ‘hit the ground running’ as Marysville schools’ new superintendent

By Kirk Boxleitner, The Marysville Globe

Courtesy photo.Dr. Becky Berg officially starts as the new superintendent of the Marysville School District on July 1.

Courtesy photo.
Dr. Becky Berg officially starts as the new superintendent of the Marysville School District on July 1.

MARYSVILLE — Dr. Becky Berg is still mapping out her transition between the Deer Park School District, where she currently serves as superintendent, and the Marysville School District, for which she was selected as the new superintendent on March 28, but between now and when she officially starts her new job on July 1, Berg aims to get up to speed in short order.

“I intend to hit the ground running, listening and learning,” said Berg, whose career in education opened with stints as a classroom teacher in the Renton and Enumclaw school districts from 1986-91, after earning her B.A. in education from Eastern Washington University in 1984. “I’m open to meeting with as many constituents and community groups as possible, so that I can learn as much as possible during those golden hours when I’m still new to the school district. I have no agenda other than continuing the great work that’s already been done in the district, and understanding its future needs.”

Indeed, Berg cited what she deemed the healthy relationships between district leaders, staff members, students, families and surrounding community members as one of the traits that drew her to the Marysville School District in the first place.

“I was impressed,” said Berg, whose stints as acting, associate, assistant and full principals in the Bainbridge Island and Mead school districts, the latter in Spokane, ran from 1991 through 2010, when she began her current job as superintendent of the Deer Park School District. “Innovations such as the Small Learning Communities are the kinds of bold measures that it will take to keep up with the needs of the 21st century. This district’s diversity was also a huge draw for me, since I’m looking forward to working with the Tulalip Tribes, the growing Hispanic community and other partners.”

Berg eagerly anticipates familiarizing herself with Marysville as a resident, a process that she referred to as “knitting in” rather than “fitting in.”

“This really isn’t about me, though,” Berg said. “It’s about the Marysville community and its students. This district demonstrates that dynamic, effective education is possible, and I’m incredibly excited to be part of it.”