Dear John Hay Family,
What a pleasure it has been to serve as your principal this year! As you know, this June represents the conclusion of my first year as the principal at John Hay. And, what a year it’s been!
The 2010/11 school year has had its share of challenges! We began the year with unprecedented overcrowding at 2nd and 5th grades. A classroom filled with 35 very tall 5th grade students is quite a sight to behold! Our 2nd and 5th grade teachers rose to the occasion and performed beautifully until we resolved the issue with the addition of a 2/3 split and another 5th grade classroom. As a state and a district, we faced a dire budget season that demanded creative solutions to underfunding. This year also ushered in some changes for this year and into the next. Teachers and administration came together to evaluate our practice of looping and collaborated in the decision to phase out the k/1 loop beginning in the fall[i] in order to best meet the needs of our students. Our full to capacity school made it necessary to make room for instructional space in the art room; moving art to the classroom and bringing a conclusion to the Spanish program [ii]. Art was then replaced as a PCP class with drama to begin in the fall[iii].
As fall moved forward into winter, we continued to enroll more and more new students to our school and worked to welcome and embrace these new members of the John Hay family. We packed the house for curriculum night, and came together for other Parent Education Nights around analyzing and understanding our school data, exploring curriculum in a Parent Workshop, an evening was set aside to focus on Advanced Learning as well as Internet Safety and bullying awareness. These new Parent Education Nights will continue next year with a repeat of the Internet Safety night, a data night, and a new information night specifically designed with our kindergarten families in mind.
We shared some amazing community-building events this year including our first Bingo Night, the Sock Hop, the Science Fair as well as another awesome spring Auction and Fall Move-at-thon. I’ve had some time to reflect on my Move-a-Thon costume and just have to wonder what, exactly, I was thinking! We introduced the first-ever John Hay Players, a new school song, and monthly assemblies that truly rocked the house. Monthly spirit days had kids dressed for school in western gear, PJs, mustaches, grade level colors, and a variety of sports attire. Who could ever say school isn’t fun!
Our students spent time listening and learning about cyber and school bullying this year as we presented a full bullying awareness and response campaign to help educate and support students around the dangers and harm bullying can cause. Our students were respectful and reflective, giving us good feedback around recess conduct as well as behind-the-back conduct that has the potential to negatively impact our student community. I was very impressed and pleased with the ways in which our third through fifth grade students rose up and responded to the lessons around bullying.
In March, we sent our 5th graders off on an amazing week of science and nature exploration to Camp Islandwood, trips were made to the zoo, to the Seattle Children’s Theater, to the International District and to other destinations that make classroom learning real! Writing celebrations began around November and have been going all year!
We welcomed four new teachers to our roster this year – Ms. Ross, Ms. Landa, Ms. Crosser and Ms. Nolte – all of whom will be continuing with us next year. Conversely, this June marks the last teaching year for two of our beloved teachers, Mr. Reed and Ms. Delaney. Both have decided to retire and move on to other things. In addition, we say farewell to Ms. Badger as she begins a study leave and to Seniorita Monica Alperovich as the Spanish program draws to a close.
Thinking of these who come and who are going causes me to pause and think about how truly blessed we are at Hay to have the teaching corps we do. While none of us are perfect, we all care deeply for the work to be done and students in our care. The complexities around style and approach make us a diverse and colorful group to be celebrated and thanked. I have appreciated the countless hours, the ingenuity, diligence and creativity that has really made this year great for our students.
In mid-August parents will hear from me regarding classroom configurations (as of today, our classes are still not confirmed at the district level), the status of our enrollment numbers, any news from the district that impacts Hay, as well as important details around upcoming Partners news and information, and also what you’ll need to know for the start of another school year.
And what should be said to our John Hay kids? Thank you, boys and girls, for your commitment to improvement and growth. Thank you for taking care of each other and for trying so hard in your studies and your activities. Thank you for respecting your teachers and bringing your best to school every day. Thank you for sharing your parents with us – for without their support of you and this school, we simply wouldn’t be the amazing John Hay that we’re known to be. Remember the great year this has been and keep reading, reading, reading this summer! I’ll miss your smiling faces in the hallway and your bright and cheerful voices saying “Hi Ms. Hanson!” And, as you have time – keep thinking and singing the John Hay Song:
You’re a John Hay Star
Reaching for the High Bar
Gonna’ make a difference in the world some day,
So keep a smile on your face
Show respect and grace
And do your very best all over this place!
Have a wonderful summer!
Ms. Kari Hanson
[i] See the April Hay News for details and rationale