Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed… A Recap and Update from the MVSD

Dear Students and Parents,

“For those who have lost track, today is Blursday, the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” I’m not sure who to attribute this quote to, but it captures every bit of how I feel and what I’m guessing others may be experiencing as well.

It’s hard to imagine, but just two weeks ago, shortly following a meeting with all staff, Governor Inslee announced the closure of all schools across the State of Washington, effective March 17 – April 24. Here’s a brief recap of where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we might be headed:

Meal Services

Within 72 hours of the Governor’s school closure announcement, we recreated ourselves. This process began with a focus on the most basic and fundamental needs of our youth – meal services. Our meal services program currently provides meals to all youth ages 0-18, Monday through Friday, at no cost, to bus stops and drop zones located throughout the largest geographic attendance area in the State of Washington.

During the first week, our food services team, working in coordination with our bus drivers, administrators, and staff prepared, packaged, and delivered an average of 650 meals to students each day. The second week, the number grew from 650 meals to over 800 meals being served daily. This week, we are averaging over 1,100 meals served daily!

Recognizing that hunger does not discriminate the weekdays from the weekend, The Cove has ramped up its efforts to fill the need as well. Jennifer Elden, Friday Food Bag Coordinator, reports that they have increased the number of Friday Food Bags delivered to students each week from 130 to well over 400 Friday Food Bags each week.

Childcare Services

At the same time, the Methow Valley School District staff has been working to fill another critical need – childcare services. Facilitated by Family and Community Engagement Coordinator, Katharine Bill, Childcare Coordinator, Megan Fraser, and Educational Support Professional, Anna Seltzer, our Childcare Services team has established an enriching childcare program in support of students whose family member(s) serve as a medical provider and first responder. Currently we have approximately 10 elementary-school age students enrolled, allowing parents of children providing essential services within our community to continue working.

Following Spring Break, we are preparing to expand our services by adding students of grocery store employees to the list of eligible participants, recognizing the essential role they play within our community.

Continuous Learning

With meal and childcare services underway, the Methow Valley School District administrative team, technology team and classroom teachers have worked together to launch an ever-evolving “Academic Enrichment” program. Working through a lens of “Equity and Excellence for All,” our staff have worked tirelessly to provide students and parents with access to the tools, resources and opportunities necessary to continue their learning within the context of their home.

To date, this has included the distribution of over 60 Chromebooks, the establishment of internet connectivity within individual homes of families previously without connectivity, the development of “hot spots” strategically located throughout our community, the development of learning plans, academic enrichment packets, competency and credit-based requirements for our graduating seniors… The list goes and on and on.

Is an extended closure a real possibility? We don’t yet know. However, in anticipation and preparation for the possibility of an extended closure, you can be assured that our administrators and staff will continue to work with you to make adjustments to our academic program based upon what we learn is and is not working in support of our students and their continuous learning. Acknowledging the right balance of work and play and approach (digital and non-digital) is likely to look different from one student to another, we appreciate your patience, understanding, and participation in this process.

Spring Break

Next week, during the week of April 6 – 10, a period of time we commonly refer to as “Spring Break,” we will hit the pause button, temporarily suspending meal, childcare, and academic services to allow our exceptional staff a much-needed opportunity to attend to their own personal and family needs. In spite of these difficult times, we hope it will also serve as a time for you and your family take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the serenity of this place we call home, knowing we’re all in this together!

Green and Gold Tickets

As a child, one of my favorite movies was, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” A fan of the underdog, those who act with integrity, humility, and perspective, growing up in poverty, providing others with opportunity during a period of despair, spreading cheer and goodwill to others… there are likely many reasons why I enjoyed this movie as a child and still do today.

For those who have not seen it, it essentially revolves around a young boy living in poverty with his family during a difficult period of time who finds one of five “Golden Tickets” hidden inside chocolate bar. The ticket provides him with an opportunity to visit Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory, better yet, inherit the chocolate factory.

With the intent of spreading some “goodwill and cheer” to youth throughout the Methow Valley, and at the same time, helping local businesses, the Methow Valley School District staff, working in partnership with the Winthrop Kiwanis Club, will be placing ten “Green and Gold Tickets” in random meal bags each week. Each ticket will be accompanied by a gift certificate, redeemable at local businesses (Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe, Ulrich’s, East 20 Pizza, Trail’s End Bookstore, The Barnyard Cinema, La Fonda Lopez… Just to name a few.)

Be well,

Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District

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