MARYSVILLE – On Demand is not only a popular cable service, it’s also a popular learning style.
So says Marysville School District superintendent Becky Berg, whose 11,150 students start school Wednesday, Sept. 3.
Berg said one focus the district will have this and the next two years will be learning how to better use technology in their teaching.
“Anyone can learn anything on the internet,” she said, adding young people have known that for years. “It’s on demand learning. Schools need to reflect more of that.” Even though it will be a challenge, schools need to embrace it, she added.
“We will be up to our eyeballs” in technology, with wireless everywhere in the district, Berg said. It will mean professional development for teachers and a changing role between learner and mentor.
Technology is even more important this year in schools because the new state-mandated Smarter Balance Assessment has to be taken online.
“Ironically the state does not fund technology, so I’m thrilled the community voted for the levy or we’d be doing this piecemeal,” Berg said.
Another key issue for the superintendent this year is the district’s new slogan: “Engage. Prepare. Inspire.”
That is short for:
• Engaging our community in support of our students.
• Inspiring our students to find their passion and pathway.
• Preparing our students for new economic and social realities.
Berg and the district actually started on this vision last year with community coffees and town hall meetings. About 300 people came to one event, called “Dream Big for Kids.”
Berg plans to continue such outreach again this year because engaging the community is such an important part to a successful school district.
“It helped us understand local values and priorities,” she said.
The district plans to continue to partner with the city of Marysville, Tulalip Tribes, the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs. It also plans to continue using online surveys, such as the one that had 2,000 responses last May-June, to discover differing points of views in the district.
“But we don’t want to lose the personal touch,” Berg said. “We have a whole array of approaches.”
A new concept this year to get community involvement is a Parents Academy. Still in the idea phase, Berg’s vision for that is having a regular night, once or twice a month, where parents can come and learn about different things related to school: such as special education, conferences, how to nagivate schools, etc.
“We want to break down barriers some folks feel toward educational institutions,” she said. “It’s a methodical, trust-building process.”
Berg said no matter what the policy wars are in our nation’s capital or in Washington state, the Marysville district is focused on what the local people want.
“We reflect the voice of our constituency,” she said.
In other school news, the district has hired 10 new employees in administration, 44 new teachers and 40 new paraprofessionals.
Some of the schools have new leaders. Eneille Nelson, a former Marysville Middle School teacher and then assistant principal, is now principal at Kellogg Marsh Elementary. Sharon Grove left that school for Grove Elementary. Angie Hansen is now at MMS after switching spots with Susan Hegeberg, who is now principal at the International School of Communications. Terri Kaltenbach is the principal at both 10th Street Middle School, and Arts and Technology High School at the Tulalip Campus.
Most of the elementary schools will go from 9:20 a.m. to 3:35 p.m., middle schools from 8:15 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., and the high schools are: Marysville-Pilchuck, 7:05 to 1:50 p.m.; Marysville Getchell, 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.; Mountain View, 7:35 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Heritage and Arts and Technology, 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For those looking ahead, winter break is from Dec. 22 to Jan. 5, 2015 and schools ends June 12, 2015.
In other news:
• Every Friday will be an early release day for students and professional development for staff.
• New websites for the district and schools will be launched early this fall.
• A few portable classrooms have been moved around the district to accommodate student growth or program changes at some schools. The goal is to continue to eliminate some of the aging portables.
• More high school teachers have been trained to teach Advanced Placement classes, and the district will continue to offer college in the high school courses.
• The district is offering crossover classes at the Marysville Getchell campus that will provide additional opportunities for students. That means students in Bio-medicine, communications, construction and engineering, or entrepreneur can take classes in the different academies.
• The district’s Career and Technical Education allows 9th through 12th graders the opportunity to explore options such as: auto, business, construction, computer technology, culinary arts, manufacturing, marketing, video and sports medicine.
One teacher, Rebecca Ostrom of Arlington, has come full circle as one of the teachers at Totem Middle School. She attended Marysville schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. She now teaches sixth grade Language Arts/Social Studies and is also the leadership teacher and athletic coordinator.
“I chose to stay in Marysville for my teaching career as I wanted to give back to the community that helped raise me, and I wanted to have the opportunity to positively affect the students in the community just as the many teachers I had profoundly impacted my life and my decisions,” she says in a district newsletter.
She married her high school sweetheart, Grant Ostrom, and they have two boys. Her husband, a financial adviser, also attended Marysville schools and is now an assistant football coach at Marysville Middle School.