Monday, March 5, 2018

Principal Turnover at Washington and Hamilton Middle Schools

In a coincidence both Susan Follmer and Tip Blish are stepping down this year.  Now is the time for parents  to get organized and push for a voice in the replacement process. There are few things more critical to a building's success than its principal.

Dear Washington Middle School Community,As you may be aware, Principal Susan Follmer will be retiring at the end of this school year.  Principal Follmer has worked hard to serve the Washington community for the past four years and we are thankful for her commitment and dedication to our school community.Looking forward, we are beginning the process of selecting the next principal for Washington Middle School for the 2018 – 2019 school year. The principal selection process is a great opportunity for the whole community to revisit priorities, values and hopes as they participate in the selection of a new principal. This letter articulates Seattle Public Schools’ hiring process for principals as well as the specific timeline for your school’s hiring process.
The Seattle Public Schools Principal Hiring ProcessThe following are the guidelines Seattle Public Schools uses when hiring for a principal:
  • The Superintendent has hiring authority at all times and may appoint or move a principal (or assistant principal) at any time.
  • Per the Principals’ Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, we consider the interest of principals and assistant principals for horizontal or vertical movement. The Chief of Schools reviews the requests and can make recommendations to the Superintendent if the person is a strong fit for the school.
  • If the Superintendent does not make an appointment or approve a transfer, Human Resources posts the position to candidates in our principal leadership pool. Internal and external applicants apply to be in the principal pool starting in January. From there, the school’s Executive Director of Schools works with the school’s Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a hiring team that screens applications, interviews candidates and recommends their top 2-3 candidates to the superintendent. The superintendent then makes the final decision. Hiring teams typically consist of the following:
  • Elementary School – one primary teacher, one secondary teacher, two parents, one specialist (SPED, ELL, PE, Art, etc.), the administrative secretary or a classified representative, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and one to two executive directors. The total would be 9-10 members on the team.
  • Secondary School – three core instruction teachers (or two core teachers and one specialist), three parents/guardians or community representatives, the administrative secretary or a classified representative, one instructional assistant, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and 1-2 executive directors. The total would be 11 or 12 members on a team.
  • There are times where the Superintendent will recommend a candidate be hired with an “interim” status. This usually takes place when a position has not filled by a specific date, usually in mid to late August, or a position comes open after the student school year has started.
The Timeline for Hiring a Principal for Washington Middle SchoolWe are moving to open hiring for Washington Middle School. The following is the approximate timeline:
  • Mid-February:  We will post the principal position for applicants who have been screened into the SPS principal pool.
  • Early March: Sarah Pritchett Executive Director of Schools, will work with the staff and community to determine desired characteristics of the new principal.
  • Early/Mid-March: Sarah Pritchett will work with the Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a formal interview team made up of staff and families.
  • Mid-March: The interview team will select candidates to interview, interview those candidates and then select 2-3 finalists. The superintendent will interview the finalists, make the final decision and announce the new principal to the community.
We are looking for parents who are interested in serving on the interview team who represent the diversity of our school community. If you are interested in being considered for the interview team, please contact Assistant Principal, Devin Murphy, at who will share your names with the Building Leadership Team.Sincerely,Mike Starosky, Ed.D.Chief of Schools, Assistant Superintendent

January 31, 2018
Dear Hamilton International Middle School Community,
I am sharing an announcement I made to the Hamilton staff on Tuesday: This summer, my family is moving overseas, and I will resign as principal effective July 1. This is a wonderful opportunity for our two daughters for Bridget and me; her work is taking us to London for two years, and we are thrilled to share an immersive, international experience. But it is taking me away from the very best work I can imagine. 
I am extremely optimistic about Hamilton and about the direction we are headed but bitter I won’t be here to share in its future and work alongside you, the educators here, and, best of all, the wonderfully diverse, creative, quirky, inspiring Hamilton students. 
I will leave a school and community that’s in a great place – not where we want to be but clear on where we’re headed. Our students are performing at the highest levels of middle school students anywhere around and that’s been increasing year over year since I got here. That as true for our students of color as it is for our white students even though we know that the gap between those two groups of students remains unacceptable. 
I am especially encouraged by the leadership and focus of our teachers and support staff. They are strong educators individually but have been increasingly working together to make a Hamilton education even better for every student who walks in our doors. That’s taken the form of collaborating on aligning curriculum in math and science as well as work on making this school a place of learning that is welcome and is place where each student and family feels they belong. 
As you likely know, Hamilton is supported by a group of family volunteers on the PTSA and the Friends of Music at Hamilton International whose work is infused with thoughtfulness, innovation, care, and commitment to what we do here.
Hamilton has a bright future and an amazing community of people to take it there.
Jon Halfaker, Executive Director of Schools, will lead the process to find the next Hamilton principal. He knows the school and its community very well. As soon as that process is prepared, he or I will let you know.
In so many ways, I wish I were not writing this letter—if I listed the ways, this already long letter would be even longer. I love this work, love this school, and love its community. And it will be personally very hard to leave it. It’s small but important comfort that I will hand over the keys to a great, great middle school.
I look forward to seeing you over the next six months,

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March '18 Open Thread

March brings the beginning of the district and school wide budgeting process.  I'm hoping we'll see more clarity on the structure of High School as well.

Board Working Session Agenda on 24 Credit Planning:

There are several different scenarios discussed in this document.  I snipped only one of them above so definitely take a read if you're interested. Its a bit unclear how this process is working since I've heard but not verified that several High Schools are rolling out schedule changes prior to this being fully adopted.

Running Start: 

"Community colleges had been counting on more generous state dollars from Washington’s public schools to help fix a funding imbalance in the state’s dual-credit program known as Running Start. 
But a budget bill passed by the state Senate could undo that possibility."

Seattle Times Link

New Assignment Plan Task Force

Seattle Public Schools is seeking parents, community members, and students to join district staff in the upcoming Student Assignment Plan Task Force as we review the policies and procedures around student enrollment, assignment and school choice and develop a set of recommendations for improvements that support the success of all students across the district. 
The Student Assignment Plan Task Force will carry out two key objectives:
Review the Student Assignment Plan and most recent Student Assignment Transition Plan and Develop recommendations for an equity focused enrollment and student assignment process.
To learn more about the task force, please visit the Student Assignment Plan Task Force webpage. Applications are due on Mon., March 19, 2018. Applicants will be notified no later than March 23, 2018. Please email questions to 
Its a bit unclear from the description what the scope of the work is and how much his affects HCC but it may be of interest.

March HC Advisory Committee Meeting

The March meeting of the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee will take place tomorrow - Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 - 8:00 PM - at the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Library, 1330 N 90th St, Seattle, WA 98103.

- Update from Advanced Learning
- Continued work on the Program Review Tool

Upcoming meetings will take place:

April 3, JSCEE, Room 2700
May 1, JSCEE, Room 2700
June 5, Madison Middle School, Library

Math Counts Scholarship
"We know that an experience in MATHCOUNTS can be transformative and incredibly meaningful for a student. MATHCOUNTS can change opinions about mathematics. It can lead a student to a career in science, engineering, technology or mathematics. It can build critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are invaluable to success in the future. In short, it can help a student realize no less than his or her full potential.
The MATHCOUNTS Alumni Scholarship is a $3,000 award presented to an outstanding alumnus/a whose experience in a MATHCOUNTS program had an impact on his/her outlook on math and influenced his/her academic or professional pursuits. Created in 2014, this scholarship ensures that MATHCOUNTS can recognize the work of talented alumni and continue to expand their academic and professional opportunities."

Pi Day Video

What's on your minds?

UW Math Hour Lectures

We are excited to announce our spring series of Math Hour lectures, aimed at middle- and junior high school students and their families.  The dates and titles for the talks are:
March 25, 2018
Henry Cohn, Microsoft Research -- "Dense sphere packings in a million dimensions"

April 15, 2018
Jennifer McLoud-Mann, UW Bothell -- "One Tile at a Time: Mathematicians' Quest to Discover All Convex Polygonal Tessellations"

May 20, 2018
David Pengelley, Oregon State University -- "All tangled up and searching for the beauty of symmetry"

For more information about the Math Hour talks and the UW Math Hour Olympiad, which will be held on June 3, please visit our website 

All talks take place on the main UW campus in Savery Hall room 260.  Information about parking, along with a campus map, can also be found on our website.
The Math Hour lectures are aimed at students in grades 6-10, along with well-behaved parents, teachers, or older siblings/friends.  The lectures are free to everyone.  No registration is required. 
Flyers for the first talk and for the entire spring series are attached.

We hope to see you there!
Steven Klee (
Seattle University Department of Mathematics
Julia Pevtsova (
University of Washington Department of Mathematics