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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

MVSD and Winthrop Kiwanis Club Receive 50K Donation in Support of Students and Families in Need

The Methow Valley School District and Winthrop Kiwanis Club were recently notified that they will be receiving a $50,000 donation in support of school-age students and families in need of support.

Working in partnership with the Winthrop Kiwanis Club to support students and families in need, the Winthrop Kiwanis Club established the “Family Empowerment Foundation.” The foundation, funded through the generosity of donors, provides critical resources and supports to school-age students and families in need.

“We know that our students and families in need are often the first to be impacted and the last to recover from a crisis,” states Superintendent Venable.

Led by the MVSD Student and Family Support Services team, School Counselors Erika Spellman and Tracie Powney, and ILC Internship Coordinator, Kelleigh McMillan are using information gathered from students, parents, and staff to develop a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the:

  1. immediate/short term resources and supports needed,
  2. the anticipated long-term resources and supports needed, and
  3. the resources and supports needed during the recovery from such an event.

Partnering with the Cove

Joining forces with the Cove, $9,000 of the donation received will be immediately distributed to the Cove in support of the Friday Food Bag program. Coordinated by Jennifer Elden, she reports that the demand has increased sharply. In a typical week, they distribute 130 bags of food. Based on last week’s numbers, they anticipate providing over 400 bags this week.

While the donation will go a long way in support of our efforts to meet some of the many needs of our students and families, we know more support will be needed.

If you wish to contribute to the Family Empowerment Foundation or the Cove, please contact:

John Owen, Winthrop Kiwanis Club Member:
Glenn Schmekel, Executive Director and Founder of the Cove:

Be safe. Be healthy. Be well.

Presenting the 2020-21 MVSD School Calendar

The MVSD School Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposed 2020-21 MVSD School Calendar. In advance of the meeting, members of the MVSD Calendar Committee acknowledged the many complexities and interests associated with the development of a school calendar. One long-standing committee member stated, “The goal isn’t perfection. We are diverse community with diverse interests and needs. But we feel pretty good about what we’ve developed given some of the parameters.”

Noteworthy Changes:
The most notable change reflected in the 2020-21 School Calendar is a start day prior to Labor Day Weekend. When ask why the early start date, a committee member replied, “Labor Day falls late in the calendar this year. However, more importantly, the early start day recognizes the feedback we’ve received in the past about the growing number of students who participate in 4-H programs. They work on their projects all year, then they present at the county fair. An early start date allows them to begin the new school year with their teachers and peers and participate in the fair.”

They also added, “In addition, we’ve also built in a Professional Development Day that coincides with the fair. This allows other students to attend the fair and honor the work of their peers, no different than we do with sporting events, and not have to miss school.”

Similarly, after much deliberation, the committee elected to maintain a four-day mid-winter break, supporting those who participate in nordic skiing events and winter activities to do so without missing as much school. “The calendar reflects our best effort to acknowledge that our students and families have many interests and that learning takes place outside of the school walls in many forms,” stated another committee member.

Finally, a scheduled make-up day in the event of a school closure due to snow or otherwise has been scheduled to take place on Friday, May 7th, minimizing the need to extend the school year. If there are no closures in advance of May 7th, this day will serve as a day off of school.

Following the School Board’s decision to adopt the proposed school calendar, Board Chair Marchbank stated, “I’m pleased by the committee’s effort to prioritize teaching and learning and recognize the varied interests of our students and parents. It’s what makes our Valley so special.”


View/download 2020-2021 MVS District Calendar

MVSD Promotes the Development of Healthy, Fit, Active Youth in the Face of COVID-19

Staying healthy, fit and active is important in these challenging times. It contributes to our health, wellbeing and even our resistance to illness. While activities such as team sports practices and competition are not an option at this time, there are still plenty of ways to keep moving: get outside and go for a run, ride a bike, fly a kite, take a hike, or simply throw a ball against a wall and catch it, and repeat until someone comes out and yells at you to stop.

For those looking for additional options or a more programmatic approach to fitness, LBHS is pleased to offer another opportunity for staying active: PLT4M’s Remote Training Program.

PLT4M is an online-based approach to strength and conditioning being piloted this year at LBHS. In light of the ongoing situation around COVID-19, PLT4M has developed a series of workouts that virtually anyone can do in their own home, utilizing little or no equipment. PLT4M’s entire library of programming, including the Remote Fitness program described above, is now available to all LBHS students and staff.

How to get started:

Get moving. Stay moving. Be healthy. Be well!

Adriana Vanbianchi, Michael Putnam, Michael Wilbur
SHAC Fitness Education Committee

*Requests for a hard copy of the program, questions, or assistance accessing the program should be directed to MVSD Activities and Athletics Director, Michael Wilbur

MVSD Launches Academic Enrichment Services Beginning Monday, March 23rd

Dear Methow Valley Students and Parents, 

I hope this latest update finds each of you healthy and well. Working within an ever-evolving situation, we have been busy delivering meals in support of all youth and families throughout the Methow Valley. During the first week, we averaged 650 meals per day. 

At the same time, we’ve been actively engaged in the planning and preparation of our Academic Enrichment and Childcare Services which begin Monday, March 23. Below, we’ve provided you with an outline of these services that you can anticipate receiving from your child’s principal.

As we’ve stated previously, it will not be perfect. We will continue to assess the needs of our students and parents and adjust accordingly. Please continue to direct your feedback to our team leaders. They include:

Meal Services: Bud Hover, Director of Operations

LBHS Academic Enrichment Services: Crosby Carpenter, LBHS Principal

ILC Academic Enrichment Services: Sara Mounsey, ILC Principal

MVE Academic Enrichment Services: Paul Gutzler, MVE Principal

MVSD Childcare Services: Katharine Bill, Family/Community Engagement Coordinator

We’re all in this together! Hang in there…


Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District



MVSD Academic Enrichment Services

Recognizing we cannot replace in-person teaching and learning opportunities, our staff has been working remotely in grade level and content-based teams in collaboration with Special Education staff, MVSD’s English Language Learner Coordinator, and Specialists to design academic enrichment opportunities for “all” students. 

Working through a lens of equity, the academic enrichment opportunities have been designed with the intent of ensuring students are able to complete the activities home.These resources can be accessed digitally and/or in hard copy. Below are additional academic enrichment logistics, which are subject to change given the fluidity of this global pandemic:

Liberty Bell Jr-Sr High School

Teachers are available for virtual office hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 – 11:50 am, but will respond to student and parent inquiries promptly during normal working hours.

  • Students should be regularly checking email as a primary mode of communication (see below for non-digital communication).
  • On Monday, March 23rd, all teachers will have established contact with their classes to clarify academic enrichment opportunities and other logistics.
  • Students can continue with currently enrolled online classes.
  • Staff will provide continuous feedback throughout the closure.
  • Classes linked to third-party assessments and certifications such as AP and Traffic Safety will proceed as effectively as possible with some modifications.
  • Multiple opportunities will be made to ensure our seniors to remain on track for graduation.

Independent Learning Center

Advisors are available for virtual office hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 – 11:50 am, but will respond to student and parent inquiries in a timely manner during normal working hours.

  • Students should call or email teachers for assistance.
  • Advisors will be connecting and collecting student preferences for receiving academic enrichment.
  • Students should continue working on their goals on their individualized learning plans.
  • Staff will be available to provide feedback for students and families.

Seniors and Graduation

LBHS Counselor Erika Spellman sent a wonderfully helpful email to Seniors earlier this week. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s available here: 2020 Seniors Information.

Methow Valley Elementary

  • Staff will provide suggested activities that are simple in design, promoting the use of research, critical thinking, and communication skills through projects and place-based learning.
  • Encourage outdoor play and exploration.
  • Facilitate student practice, reinforcing what students have already learned.
  • Ensure access to resources that can be accessed digitally and/or in hard copy.
  • Staff will provide ongoing opportunities for students, teachers, and parents to connect remotely using by phone, email, etc…



Digital Resources

Digital Device Checkout

  • Any student who needs a Chromebook in support of academic enrichment, please fill out the online Chromebook Checkout Request Form. A hard copy of the form is also available via morning bus routes and afternoon drop zones.
  • Two documents must to be completed:
    1. The Chromebook Checkout Request Form (online or hard copy) and the
    2. Responsible Use Agreement Form (part of the Checkout Request Form), which needs to be completed by the MVSD student’s parent guardian.
  • Please return your completed forms to the next available morning bus or drop zone bus.
  • Once the completed documents are returned, the device, charging cable, and a copy of your signed agreement will be delivered via bus route or drop zone.
  • The Chromebook must be picked up (from bus or drop zone) by the parent or guardian. Depending on demand, this may take up to two business days.



Non-Digital Resources

As a district, we are committed to ensuring equitable access to academic enrichment resources.

  • Non-digital options are available for all academic enrichment opportunities.
  • If you do not have access to the internet or would prefer non-digital resources, students should contact teachers directly or call the LBHS main office at (509) 996-2215.
  • Non-digital resources will be distributed via bus routes and drop zones on Mondays.

LBHS Library/Media Services

Students are encouraged to check books out from the LBHS Library during the closure. Please see checkout procedures.

MVE Library/Media Services

If we can’t find exactly what you want we will try and substitute it for something awesome! We’ll do our best to get you the books you want. See checkout procedures below:

  • Next Monday students and families can return books in the marked boxes on the buses for morning delivery and at drop zones.
  • We will only be collecting books on Mondays.
  • Once the Library staff inputs the books (and then clean and quarantine them) students will be able to check out new books and have them delivered on Tuesdays.
  • We have two options for request: an Online Checkout Form and a hard copy form.
  • The hard copy version will be sent out with enrichment packets (there will be a pile in the boxes).
  • Families can “shop” for books using the online catalog.

NCRL Library/Media Services

The public library is still open — virtually!

  • NCRL cardholders may continue to order books and other materials to be mailed to their homes. As always, there are no late fines for returning items past their due date.
  • Online books, music, videos, magazines, and news continue to be available.

If you need help learning about or accessing all that our public library offers, please contact your local librarian:

Winthrop Branch: (509) 996-2685
Twisp Branch: (509) 997-4681



Childcare Services

Facilitated by Katharine Bill, MVSD Family/Community Engagement Coordinator and Megan Fraser, MVSD Childcare Coordinator, the MVSD is prepared to launch childcare services for elementary-age students whose parents work as medical providers and first responders. If you believe you are eligible and in need of childcare services, please contact Katharine Bill



Meal Services

“Grab-and-Go” meals are available to all youth, ages 0-18, at no cost, whether they attend our schools or not. Here’s how to access:

  • Bus delivery Monday-Friday at regular morning bus routes and times. (See Transportation/Bus Routes page or call (509) 997-2113 for more information).
  • Drop Zone Pick Up (Lunches only) 12-1 pm Locations: Carlton Fire Department, ILC at the TwispWorks Campus in Twisp, Red Barn in Winthrop and the Mazama Community Center
  • Friday Food bags will be distributed at bus stops each Friday.

Honoring Excellence – Congratulations Hana Baker and Lotty Ekblad, MVSD’s 2020 Excellence Award Recipients!

Each year, school district employees across the North Central region of Washington State are encouraged to submit the names of colleagues (one certificated employee and one classified employee) they believe represent excellence in public education.

This year, the Methow Valley School District received more nominations than ever before, each reflecting the exceptional dedication and commitment to service taking place throughout our schools in support of students and families. At the end of the day, two names rose to the top…

Hana Baker, Methow Valley Elementary School 2nd Grade Teacher

Serving as a 2nd grade teacher at Methow Valley Elementary School, Mrs. Baker works collaboratively with students, staff, and parents to promote high levels of student engagement and ownership of their learning, developing critical thinking, research, communication, and self-management skills at every step along the way in support their ability to necessary to pursue the widest range of post-secondary college, career, and life opportunities possible.

When staff was asked why they nominated Mrs. Baker to receive the MVSD Excellence Award, one staff member stated, “Hana Baker is an exceptional teacher. She is a champion for equity, ensuring that all students in her classroom can access their education. This year Hana received a grant from PSFA to purchase a set of snowshoes to allow 2nd graders to get outside during the winter months. She is a supportive colleague who holds herself to high standards. Hana is an important reason why “every student shines” in the Methow Valley School District.”

Another staff member added, “She approaches her job with such professionalism… She sees into the needs of her students and is able to individualize and differentiate her instruction accordingly while creating an atmosphere of joyful learning in her classroom.”

Finally, another staff members chimed in stating, “Simply put, she makes all of us better.”

Lotty Ekblad, Methow Valley School District Educational Support Professional

Serving as an Educational Support Professional who works with Methow Valley Elementary students, Mrs. Ekblad is a caring, compassionate educator who is highly respected by students, parents and staff alike.

When staff was asked why they nominated Mrs. Ekblad to receive the MVSD Excellence Award, a staff member who works closely with Mrs. Ekblad stated, ”Lotty does amazing work with all of the children she serves. I’m especially impressed with her ability to work on multiple goals during one activity. For example, she may be helping a student each lunch while also working on fine motor, communication, and social goals. She is good at looking at the big picture of who the student is, and creates close trusting relationships with the students. And she manages to do all of this while remaining calm, collected, and with a smile on her face. She is truly amazing!”

Another staff member added, “She does her job with empathy and compassion. She creates deep, meaningful relationships with her students.”

Congratulations Hana Baker and Lotty Ekblad, Methow Valley School District’s 2020 Excellence Awards Recipients – You inspire all of us!


Methow Valley School District Closed Tuesday, March 17th - April 24th (or longer)