Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Dec. 17, 2021

In this Issue:

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Winter Break Holiday Schedule

NO SCHOOL – Dec. 20 to 31
• Classes resume Monday, Jan. 3, 2022
• Have a safe and happy winter break

District aware of national TikTok school threat message

School leaders across the nation are aware of a message spreading via the social media platform TikTok that states -- "school shootings and bomb threats for every school in the USA..."

There was no specific threat being made against any school in WWPS or elsewhere.

The TicTok social media post continues to highlight the importance of our: See Something, Hear Something, Say Something Campaign! Safety is the district's top priority and Walla Walla Public Schools maintain robust policies and procedures to ensure the safety and security of staff, students and visitors to district campuses.

SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM - Four easy ways to report:
• (Phone) 855.976.8772
• (Text) 855.976.8772
• (Email) 1057@ALERT1.US
• (Web) http://1057.alert1.us

Kathy Mulkerin takes oath of office

On Dec. 14, Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith administered the Oath of Office for new school board member Kathy Mulkerin. Ms. Mulkerin grew up in Walla Walla. She attended Walla Walla Public Schools, K-12, at Prospect Point Elementary School, Garrison Junior High and Graduated from Walla Walla High School. She went on to attend college at the University of Portland earning a BA in Psychology. She holds a Montessori Teaching certificate from the Montessori Institute Northwest and a Masters of Education, Primary Montessori from Loyola University Maryland. She recently completed a Master of Professional Studies, Paralegal Studies from The George Washington University.

A life-long volunteer, Ms. Mulkerin started her volunteer career as a teen at the YWCA of Walla Walla. In 2018, Ms. Mulkerin was recognized by the organization as one of Walla Walla’s Most Inspiring Women. Ms. Mulkerin is a co-founder of COCOA (Color Our Community On Awareness) which amplifies the voices and culture of our local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community. Ms. Mulkerin is looking forward to being a volunteer with Walla Walla Child Advocates.

Her term ends in 2025.

Summer Sol program to scale back in 2022

Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith reported the district wanted to do everything in its power to help students recover from the pandemic-impacted 2020-2021 school year. This included offering an unprecedented summer learning program, Summer Sol, for all students utilizing a 3-tiered approach: 1. Targeted Accelerated Learning (early morning); 2. Enrichment for all (mid-morning); 3. Leveraging Community Partners (afternoon).

Director of Accelerated Learning & Support Brent Cummings directed Summer Sol which served 1519 students, or nearly 1/3 of the district's student population. Summer Sol was offered twice during the summer in two, four-week blocks at all school buildings.

"There were many positives to come out of Summer Sol,” said Superintendent Smith. “We saw improvements in math skills, making connections with students and providing opportunities for students to have fun.”

Cummings reported there were some signs of academic improvement for participants in the Targeted Accelerated Learning program, particularly in math. Special education students and English Language Learners witnessed the most academic improvement.

Cummings said the robust morning acceleration model implemented last summer is likely not repeatable, noting the difficulty obtaining sufficient staffing and the importance that teachers take time off this summer to refresh and rejuvenate. He recommends continuing a robust enrichment program this summer as most of the staff required are provided by 21st century and community hires. Additionally, this program was very appreciated by parents and staff who provided feedback via surveys.

Cummings will come back to a future board meeting with detailed recommendations for Summer Sol 2022.

Ladderud elected school board president

Tuesday evening school board members unanimously elected Ruth Ladderud to serve as President for 2022. Fellow school board member Terri Trick was elected Vice President for next year.

Ruth Ladderud - President (Position #3)
Ruth Ladderud was appointed to the WWPS Board of Directors on October 2, 2012. She was elected in 2013 to complete the term and re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Her current term ends in 2023.

Mrs. Ladderud, an administrative assistant at Whitman College, has lived most of her life in Walla Walla. She attended Prospect Point Elementary School, Paine Elementary, Garrison Junior High, and graduated from Walla Walla High School, Whitman College (biology) and WSU (animal science). Her husband, John, is a veterinarian and they have three children who all graduated from Walla Walla High School.

Mrs. Ladderud has spent many hours volunteering in the schools and at the district level. She has been honored with the 2016 Whitman College Pete and Hedda Reid Service to Walla Walla Award. She has served on both the High School and Community Facilities Task Force and is active in 4-H and American Association of University Women.

Terri Trick - Vice President (Position #2)
Terri Trick was appointed to the WWPS Board of Directors on May 29, 2018 and was elected in 2019 to complete the term and re-elected in 2021. Her current term ends in 2025.

Mrs. Trick moved to Walla Walla in 1983 with her husband Roger, a park ranger with the National Park Service. They have three grown children, all of whom graduated from Walla Walla High School. Mrs. Trick earned a BA from the University of Utah in English and Spanish and a Masters of Education from Washington State University in English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education. Active in many Little Theatre of Walla Walla productions, she has also served on the LTWW board of directors. She is active in American Association of University Women and is on the board of directors of Friends of the Farm Labor Homes (Valle Lindo). She has been an educator in Walla Walla for over thirty years.

In her spare time, Mrs. Trick enjoys the great outdoors, travel, and playing the piano for contra dances with her friends in the Wednesday Night Band.

Personnel Report (from Dec. 14, 2021 School Board meeting)

Lane Avery-Fairbanks, Bilingual Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School
Yasamin Ayatollahzadeh, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School
Natalia Cabrera, Bus Assistant, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Steffan Crosby, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School
Jacqueline Ramirez, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School & Prospect Point Elementary School
Briana Starkebaum, Temporary Para Educator, Districtwide
(2021-22 school year)
Jeff Warner, Para-Educator, Berney Elementary School

Marcus Dunnigan, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School, 3 months
Debbie Ongers, Kitchen Manager, Nutrition Services, 20.5 years
Megan Paul, Kitchen Assistant, Nutrition Services, 8 years
Maria Concepcion Sanchez Sarabia, Para-Educator, Edison Elementary School, 1 year
Itandehui Trejo, Intervention Specialist, Prospect Point Elementary School, 5 years
Jessica Vicari, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School, 3 months
Nicole Violet, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School, 3 months

Juan Faba Lopez, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary, 6 years
• January 3, 2022 – February 25, 2022 to complete student teaching
Leidy Martinez, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School, 1 year
• January 3, 2022 – May 6, 2022 to complete student teaching

School Stories
December Bond Update: Pioneer Middle School phase one improvements open after winter break

Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith provided school board members an update on bond projects during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Staff and students will be moving into completed Phase One projects at Pioneer Middle School following winter break. This is a major milestone as the renovated 1950's gym, new locker rooms, new auxiliary gym/fitness center, new entry addition, new cafeteria and renovated 1950's wing and classroom addition are nearly finished. Some "punch list" items in these areas will remain, but the spaces will be in use. Phase Two projects at Pioneer, which include additions to the main building for science and art classrooms, begin this winter. The project will be completed by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

The updated and expanded Walla Walla High School Commons will open to staff and students in mid-January. Construction continues on the main academic building renovation.

Progress continues on the 1927 Lincoln High School renovation. This project will be completed by September 2022 or earlier depending on phasing.

Stay Connected!
• Website: https://www.wwps.org/bond
• Twitter: @bondwwps

Edison steps up to make substitutes feel special 

Edison Elementary Secretary Nichole Michels is showing her appreciation for substitute para-educators and teachers by making them goodie bags for the holidays.

“We greatly appreciate our subs who come in to help us day-in and day-out,” said Michels. “We want them to know they are appreciated for the important role they play in providing students a quality education.”

“I think it is working,” said Substitute Coordinator Shari Strickland. “I get such good feedback from subs who work at Edison.”

Substitute Ashley Mayberry says Nichole’s kindness makes her feel appreciated.

“I was thrilled to get treats and will definitely return to Edison to sub,” said Mayberry.

Nichole meets the substitutes at the front door to greet them when they arrive. She makes sure to show them where the staff room is so they can put their lunch in the refrigerator and feel welcome.

“During this time of substitute shortage, it really makes a difference in where a sub will want to go if they feel appreciated as well as needed,” said Strickland.

FREE Winter Hangout – Basketball, indoor soccer and more

Students grades K-12 are invited to Winter Hangout during winter break.
• FREE - Open to all WWPS K-12 students
• December 20, 21, 22
• 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
• Garrison Middle School
• Indoor soccer, Virtual Reality, Switch, Art, Basketball and Board Games
• Snacks provided
• Information: Call Will @ (509) 520-5319

Sources of Strength outreach

The last few weeks Sources of Strength Teams from Pioneer MS, Garrison MS, Lincoln HS and Wa-Hi have been out spreading the word about HOPE, HELP, and STRENGTH as part of this comprehensive suicide prevention program.

This year Walla Walla Public Schools increased its investment in Sources of Strength to help support the social and emotional needs of students. Under the direction of Mental Health Specialists Kristen Duede and school program advisors, students have presented to agencies working in schools and have visited classrooms to talk with their classmates. Students have also created a photo booth for social media engagement, made videos to show on their school’s news channel and have helped students identify their own sources of strength during lunch.

After winter break, Sources of Strength teams will be starting their second campaign to further spread the message of hope. 

Pioneer MS National Junior Honor Society makes holidays brighter for local families

Pioneer MS National Junior Honor Society members raised over $1200 to purchase gifts for two area families in partnership with the Salvation Army “Adopt-a-Family” program. Students went shopping Sunday to buy gifts for the holidays.

“I am so beyond proud of them,” said Advisor Stephanie Kytola. “I want to congratulate these amazing humans for their hard work and generosity.”

Garrison ASB/NJHS Team Up for Warmth Drive

The Garrison Middle School ASB (Associated Student Body) members and NJHS (National Junior Honor Society) members teamed up to sponsor an all school warmth drive from November 29- December 17. The goal of the drive was to collect new socks, gloves, hats, mittens, coats and scarves for those in need during the cold winter months. Donations of items were dropped off to the Garrison Library. Students who made a donation received a sweet candy cane treat for their kindness and generosity. All items collected are being donated to the Christian Aid Center, an organization that helps those in our community who are in need.

The NJHS/ASB students were hoping to collect at least 75 items to donate. At the conclusion of the drive, they were able to collect 271 items (121 pairs of socks, 72 pairs of mittens/gloves, 68 hats, 7 coats, 2 scarves and 1 pair of boots) to help provide the comfort of warmth during the winter.

Community Stories
Ruben Alvarado to lead Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region to Launch Innovative New Partnership by Communities in Schools

Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region – part of a national network whose mission is to surround students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life-–announced Ruben Alvarado to lead the launch of Communities In Schools in the Blue Mountain Region. Mr. Alvarado joins CIS with years of nonprofit and community development experience and he has served as a City Council member for the City of Pasco. He brings his passion for community development and public service to the Communities In Schools team. Mr. Alvarado says “I joined Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain region because of my strong desire to build teams and partnerships that improve the quality of life of our communities, students and families, in particular students who have historically experienced the greatest inequities in our public systems.”

This innovative new partnership launched this fall, with Walla Walla Public Schools partnering with Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region to bring the Communities In Schools model of integrated student supports into the district’s five elementary schools. At each school site, a Communities In Schools staff member will coordinate a comprehensive range of services to support the holistic needs of students—both academic and non-academic—so they come to school ready to learn.

The Student and Community Advocate will partner with school staff and local community service partners such as social service agencies, youth development partners, businesses, health care providers and volunteers to connect students with much needed resources. Mr. Alvarado and his team are working closely with school professionals and community partners to welcome students back to school buildings, identify the unique needs of students and families at each school building, and leverage existing community resources to address the academic, non-academic and social emotional needs which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership is part of Walla Walla Public Schools comprehensive approach to respond to the needs of students as we move to recovery and beyond from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In Walla Walla, we are committed to leveraging the high quality supports and services available in our community to support students and their families. This new partnership with Communities In Schools is a vital part of our COVID recovery plan and we look forward to having dedicated Communities In Schools staff as a resource at each of our elementary school buildings this school year,” says Dr. Wade Smith, Superintendent of Walla Walla Public Schools. CIS of the Blue Mountain Region is poised to serve communities in Columbia and Walla Walla Counties. “At CIS, we are passionate about connecting students to caring adults and community resources to transform how they see and experience the world around them. We are delighted to have Mr. Alvarado leading this work and look forward to having him tailor local services to meet the unique needs of students in the Blue Mountain region,” shares Erin McCallum, State Director of Communities In Schools of Washington.

Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region is part of a statewide network of eleven independent affiliates and four incubating affiliates working daily to ensure that every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background has what they need to realize their potential in school and beyond.  To learn more about the work of Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region, please visit: https://bluemountainregion.ciswa.org/

YMCA employment opportunity to support afterschool program

The YMCA has job position openings on the bus from Green Park and Prospect Point to the Y's after school program. If you are interested in finding out more information visit our website at https://www.wwymca.org or contact Morgan at mpackard@wwymca.org

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