Spotlight On Mercer Island School District: Part 1, Northwood Elementary

Construction of Northwood Elementary_Mercer Island WAThis is the 1st installment of a 4-part Spotlight series covering the Mercer Island School District (MISD). This installment explores one of the projects the district undertook to accommodate student population growth – the building of the 4th elementary school, Northwood Elementary. I was afforded the opportunity to sit down with Mercer Island School District superintendent, Dr. Gary Plano, to talk about the state of the district. One of the topics we discussed was this exciting progress to alleviate growing pains and best serve MISD students. First, the high school entered the 2015-2016 school year with renovations to its campus and a new addition. And the two other larger district construction projects are moving closer to completion – the building of the 4th elementary school and the new construction project at Islander Middle School. Both are slated to be ready for first day of the 2016-2017 school year. In addition, the Capital Projects and Technology Levy passed in February, allowing for routine building and grounds maintenance work to more forward, to invest in the districts technology infrastructure, and update technology hardware for the district’s one-to-one device program to cover grades 4-12.

Let’s take a closer look at Northwood Elementary, also nicknamed The 4th School. Site work began in September of 2014 and has steadily moved along the construction timeline set forth by the district and contractors. Planning Principal, Aimee Batliner-Gillette, was hired in June of 2015 to fulfill the charge of hiring staff, developing procedures and processes for the staff and school, accumulating curriculum and manage building tasks as the construction phase moves closer to completion. There is now a functioning web site for Northwood Elementary, including the still-growing staff list. Dr. Plano shared with me that a field trip is being planned for those students who will be attending Northwood, so they can view the school and see how it is laid out. The date has yet to be determined, but it will be sometime toward the end of June. Principal Batliner-Gillette mentioned this open house time in her April 1st letter to Northwood families. There will also be an official ribbon cutting for the new school, which the public will be able to attend. Stay tuned for more details on the ribbon cutting ceremony as they become available!

The Northwood PTA has been established and is already working with Principal Batliner-Gillette. The PTA also has a website, which includes important updates about the school and an upcoming events calendar. On May 12th Northwood families can attend a brunch and browse at Island Books from 9:30am to 12:30pm to support the PTA. On June 5th there will be an all school picnic at the Lid from 4-6pm. Be watching the website for updates on more transition activity opportunities that will be offered by the school and PTA.

An opportunity for Northwood families was recently announced in the MI Weekly E-newsletter and Principal Batliner-Gillette’s letter. Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS), in partnership with the Mercer Island School District, is offering 2 sessions of a workshop for parents. The focus of the workshop is to provide suggestions and resources to parents so they can help their children adjust to attending a new school. Changing schools can be a tense time for students. With the opening of Northwood Elementary School for the 2016-2017 school year, students from each of the other 3 MISD elementary schools will be calling Northwood home.

The workshop is titled “Managing Change and Supporting Resilience.” Both sessions will be facilitated by the MIYFS elementary school-based counselors: Laura Falsgraf, Julie Mattson and Liana Montague. The counselors will offer parents suggestions, resources and ideas about how to support their children as the family navigate through these changes. The workshop will address issues including anxiety, friendship, and adapting to change. There will be time for questions is at both workshop sessions, and they are open to parents from all elementary schools.

When/Where:
o Tuesday, April 19, 7-8 pm at Mercer Island Community Center.
o Thursday, April 21, 9:30 – 10:30 am at PEAK.

Families may also want to attend the April 27th Parent Edge Forum. Liliana Lengua, Ph.D., from the UW Center for Child and Family Well-Being, will be presenting a talk about change and resilience titled, “Supporting Elementary-Aged Children Through Change: Promoting Resilient Responses to Life’s Stresses.”

You can follow the construction progress of Northwood Elementary – home of the Owls! – on the MISD website. The most recent report was on April 6th and includes a terrific aerial shot of the site and building. It’s exciting to see how much progress was made to the construction project over the winter months! During the month of April SE 40th Street will occasionally be reduced to 1 lane, so please be extra cautious when driving through that area of Mercer Island.

June will be here before you know it, and we will be able to see the completed school. We’re so excited to see the new home of the Owls!

Photo Credit: Mercer Island School District

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