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Friday, June 30, 2006

A Viewlands Viewpoint

(excerpted from the public testimony of the 6/26 site hearing at Viewlands)

My name is Sandy Culbert. I have been a para-educator at Viewlands since 1991, proudly I say that. Dear friends, people of Seattle and Viewlanders, I come tonight not to bury Viewlands Elementary, but to praise it. Let's look at what is good and worthy of praise at this school. Let's see what happens here in spite of the leaking roof and poor building conditions. In fact, the roof is going to be repaired this summer, maybe even as we speak. It's time to look under the roof and see what is important here at Viewlands.

One, we have been blessed to have a strong diverse student body, 48 percent minority, 52 percent majority. We can be proud of all our students.

Dedicated staff, number two, teachers, principals, secretaries, tutors, parents, in the PTA, outstanding. Great reading scores. Great direct reading assessment scores for the lower grades.

Three, a highly successful inclusion program in the autism spectrum which works actually for all the students at Viewlands, all the adults. We all are learners at Viewlands.

Four, a state of the art occupational and physical therapy room which has come together beautifully due to the teamwork Mari Chin, Nelson Peterson, Barbara Hoffman, Nancy Speaker*, and a variety of parents who have lent their help and energies and materials.

Viewlands, number five, enjoys a unique location at the edge of Carkeek Park, where students are allowed with classes, to go down on walking field trips. And we recently had an all school picnic there, it was wonderful. The fifth graders are extremely busy raising salmon and releasing salmon to Piper's Creek.

Number six, a living values program, which emphasizes teaching not only children, but the adults here patience, responsibility, honesty, respect, all those things that we need for our lives, living values.

Seven, the best PTA in the district. They are always funding activities for their students, all their children.

After school activities, number eight, drama club led by one of our teachers, Ms. Provenza; chess club, led by parents, and science and art classes contracted out to outside groups. So there are many opportunities for that also.

In conclusion, if we look at enrollment numbers, yeah, we're a smaller school, but in reality, we are a big school. When we look at the good and praiseworthy things that we have here where all the students are welcomed, where they are known as individuals, this is an inclusive, naturally diverse, educationally successful Seattle elementary school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay, my first comment is really any school on the list would say these same overview things; great students, great staff, great parents, the school works. It's not focussed enough to make someone change their mind.

What bothers me as this goes along is that Joanne Bowers, the principal at Viewlands, should have become the new principal at Greenwood (the current principal is retiring). The district is advocating, if Viewlands closes, that Greenwood take a large number of Viewlands students. Who is in the best position to unite these schools? Who knows the most about the autism program and how to make this inclusion program work? Who has started a school previously (ORCA)? The answer to all of those is Joanne Bowers and yet, the district, in yet another bone-headed move, has put Walter Trotter (a demoted ed director) at Greenwood. What has he done? Sent a letter to incoming Viewlands Kindergarten parents telling them to come to Greenwood. A little premature to say the least; where's the letter to the parents with autistic kids? I hope that's the next one he sends out.