Dear Issaquah School District Community,
In my 33 years as an educator, I’ve never been so excited to get a school year started as I am now. After 18 months of pivots and changes, we plan to get back to what we have always done best: Providing excellent in-person instruction, five days per week, in all our schools. Students need daily interactions with their teachers, support staff and peers to thrive, and we are excited to provide them.
I’m so thankful to all of our students, staff, families and community members for their patience and hard work as we made the changes necessary to protect the health of our community while continuing to serve our students over the past 18 months. We have spent much time apart, but we haven’t let it divide us.
Throughout this change, our commitment to providing every one of our students with an excellent education has never wavered. These are a few of the areas we will focus on in the coming year:
- Mental health and social-emotional learning: The trauma and isolation of the pandemic have had a huge negative impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of so many of our students. We will redouble our efforts to identify and support those students, and to create caring school communities where all students feel welcome and safe.
- Equity: The pandemic further exposed many of the deeply rooted inequities in our society that are based on race, income, disability, language ability and many other factors. We will not ignore the ways that these inequities harm our own students, and we will continue our work of identifying and addressing these inequities in our own school system.
- Student support: When school systems are designed to meet the needs of all learners, every child can achieve. In the coming year, we will continue and expand the work of implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) at all our schools. MTSS is a framework that actively evaluates all students to identify those in need of extra support and to provide help tailored to meet their individual needs.
- Inclusion: Research and experience show that students with disabilities do best, academically, socially and emotionally, when they learn alongside their peers. In the coming year, we will improve our inclusive practices, particularly working to create strong school communities where these students feel welcome and wanted.
- New schools: We will open two brand new schools this year – our first new schools in more than a decade. Cedar Trails Elementary School and Cougar Mountain
Middle School will welcome their first students, creating more room at elementary and middle schools throughout the district. We also continue progress toward our fourth comprehensive high school, currently scheduled to open in 2023.
The year to come will have its challenges, but I know for certain that we’ll overcome them together. I can’t wait to get started. Welcome back!
Superintendent Ron Thiele