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Scenes from Superintendent Tow-Yick's First Week of School Visits

Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick and Principal Jane Harris talk with students in the Apollo Elementary libarary

Thank you to all of our students, staff and families for an excellent first week of the 2022-23 school year! We were thrilled to welcome back our students in first through 12th grade on Aug. 30, followed by our new kindergarten students and families on Sept. 2.  

Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick is taking a tour of all our district schools and facilities as part of her First 100 Days Plan. “I’m incredibly grateful for the warm welcome at each of the six buildings and facilities I had the opportunity to visit today — thank you, students, staff and families!” Tow-Yick said after the first day of school, on which she visited at the Transportation Center, Briarwood Elementary, Maple Hills Elementary, Issaquah Valley Elementary, Maywood Middle School and Liberty High School.  

On Wednesday and Thursday, she visited Apollo Elementary, Cougar Mountain Middle School, Issaquah High School, Issaquah Middle School, Beaver Lake Middle School, Challenger Elementary, Pacific Cascade Middle School, Clark Elementary and Cougar Ridge Elementary. Tow-Yick's tour continues this week. 

Acknowledging that this is not a comprehensive list, Tow-Yick shared some highlights: 

  • At Maple Hills, watching the students enthusiastically greeting staff members and Principal JoEllen Tapper as they got off the buses on the first morning of school. 

  • At Maywood Middle School, meeting the kitchen manager Jill Meitzel (her team served about 90,000 lunches last year) and visiting Ben Coyne’s math classroom. 

  • Checking out the Briarwood Elementary library, where Jacob Schmitt was sharing the book “The New Neighbors” and talking about predictions and character traits with the students. Also visiting the Science Tech program, which is host to students from multiple schools. 

  • While visiting Liberty, Tow-Yick and Principal Andrew Brownson asked students at lunch “What is one thing you would want to change about your school, if you could?” The most frequent answer was that they wished school could start even later than the current start time. In the theatre classroom, she heard about why students were taking that class (answers ranged from those who truly are passionate about drama to those who were simply assigned the class to others who want to gain confidence and speaking skills). Students in ROTC shared that they were taking the class to contribute to society and “be a better human.” 

  • One enjoyable moment at Issaquah Valley Elementary was the students’ high level of interest in finding out about the group visiting with Tow-Yick, including staff with cameras. The students also “flocked to” Principal Vanessa Garcia to talk with her at recess. 

  • While at Beaver Lake Middle School, she enjoyed meeting the office staff and counseling center staff, visited multiple classrooms including Vanessa Applehoff's sixth grade study skills class and Kevin Christensen’s STEM/Woodshop class with machinery students learn to use in tandem with computer programs. 

  • At Challenger Elementary, Tow-Yick visited Nancy Trapp-Chen's third grade class, visited library where students were learning how to take care of the books they check out (find a safe place at home for them, don't dog ear pages, what's an appropriate bookmark, etc.), visited a fourth-grade class where students were sharing "me bags" that contained items representing who they are as a person. 

  • Lunch at Issaquah High School was a highlight for Tow-Yick, because she and Principal Erin Connolly had the chance to talk directly with students. 

  • Students at Pacific Cascade Middle School were checking out computers for the 1-to-1 program during Tow-Yick's visit there, which also included a visit to an eighth-grade class were students were learning how to use their devices including Office and Canvas, and a stop by Christie Santodomingo's science class, where students were setting up their lab supplies. In that class, Tow-Yick asked students what they were most excited to learn about and answers included dissecting a frog and learning about explosions. In the kitchen, she met Kathryn Chromey, an ISD retired baker who still volunteers her time at PCMS regularly during lunch. And, they offered her a serving of orange chicken, which was delicious, Tow-Yick said. 

  • At Clark Elementary, she enjoyed participating in a student celebration for good behavior, sat in on a lesson and went to the playground to interact with kids during recess.  

  • Her visit to Cougar Ridge started by hearing about the diversity of the Cougar Ridge community, and Principal Drew Terry shared some stories of students wanting to see their flag represented at the school (more than100 flags of many countries line the entrance). Terry sometimes takes students on a "flag hunt" so they can find a particular flag. Former librarian Julie Hembree helped some students create videos about where they're from for others in the school community to watch. The visit included a stop by new kindergarten teacher Maddie Erlandson’s classroom, as well as Megan Hand's third grade classroom where they were discussing the classroom contract (be kind to everyone, don't distract others, and so on). 

For more photos, check out our district Facebook, district Instagram or Superintendent Tow-Yick's new Instagram account
We’ll continue to share about Tow-Yick's initial tour of schools in future communications.