Superintendent's message Aug. 31

Superintendent's message Aug. 31
Posted on 08/31/2020
Aug. 31, 2020

Dear Tahoma Community,
We’re just hours away from the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. While this first day won’t look like any other first day of school we have experienced as students, families, teachers and staff, it can be filled with all the hope and excitement that a new school year brings. 

I love this quote, from Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

There may be a screen between you and your teacher tomorrow, but it does not diminish the care that our Tahoma teachers and staff have for you, or our dedication to your education and your future. Let’s embrace the challenge together, as a community, and see what wonderful things we can accomplish this fall. 

Please understand, I’m not glossing over the difficulties that we will face. There will be technology struggles, hardships for families whose students can’t be online during school hours, and other hurdles, but I feel confident that we will overcome these together.

A major focus this year will be wellness and mental health, for our students, families and staff. One of our reopening work teams has been planning in this area since spring. Each Tahoma student will be screened for any needed support, and then connected with services. We will share more about this effort with you soon. 

Tahoma is also very lucky to be starting this school year with a new coordinator of district-wide wellness support and strategy, as well as a new shared mental health position that Tahoma and the City of Maple Valley are partnering to provide.

We’ve shared a few updates about our commitment to create an equitable school system where every student and staff member feels safe and heard, cultural competence is increased, and racism and injustice are eliminated. Please look for regular updates on this topic throughout the school year. As we mentioned previously, we’re starting by listening to our students, families and staff of color. An ad hoc Equity Committee and an Equity Support Team will help conduct this work, and we’re also thrilled to have the support and leadership of Dr. Caprice Hollins, who is nationally known for her work in supporting schools and organizations in the area of equity.

I would like to extend a huge, Tahoma-style welcome to our newest kindergarten students. And, speaking to our incoming sixth-graders and freshmen students for just a moment: You have done tremendous work, and are growing into amazing young people. You’re transitioning to new buildings during a time of significant change, and I want you to know that your principals, teachers, staff and peers are here for you. Your new school staff members can’t wait to get to know you better. Please reach out to us at any time for support.

Lastly, I am pleased to welcome the more than 50 new teachers and staff members who are joining Team Tahoma this year. We’re so glad to have you with us!

Thank you for your partnership,

Mike Hanson
Superintendent
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