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K-5 STEM Transition to K-8
Letter from Principal Ostrom

Dear K-5 STEM Community,


I’m writing today to update you on our progress toward rolling up K-5 STEM into K-8 STEM. I know there has been some conflicting information regarding when the district will begin the roll up and there is a strong desire to begin the process as soon as possible. The district’s top priority is to implement the roll up in a way that is least disruptive to all students at the Louisa Boren building and as fiscally responsible as possible. With all of this in mind, the district is reviewing several critical factors in order to determine the best course of action.


Arbor Heights Elementary is scheduled to remain in the building until the 2016-17 school year, with a contingency plan to remain longer as needed should delays occur in their new school’s construction. Knowing that, we are currently conducting reviews of three critical areas that will affect a start date decision: enrollment, capital management and space utilization, and budget.


As you may know, this school year Arbor Heights’ kindergarten enrollment was well above projections, resulting in the need for a third kindergarten classroom and aids to help with larger second grade classes. Looking forward, West Seattle elementary schools are expected to experience the highest kindergarten enrollment in years in the 2015-16 school year. What’s more, boundaries will likely change slightly for schools next year and Arbor Heights is expected to potentially gain additional students. With this information, we expect Arbor Heights will continue to have three kindergarten classes again next year, and could have demand for additional classrooms in other grade levels.


Seattle Public Schools is conducting a capital management and space utilization review based on this projected enrollment. Currently there is one classroom at Boren available to Arbor Heights in the portables. All things remaining equal at Arbor Heights in terms of enrollment, this room will be put into use next year to house a third first grade classroom to accommodate this year’s kindergarteners. At that point, there will be no additional classroom space available to Arbor Heights.


Currently there are two rooms available in Boren for K-5 STEM that can be repurposed as classrooms, a fully outfitted high school-level science lab and a reading room. A budget and space utilization review is underway to look at the cost of repurposing these rooms as sixth grade classrooms. Should they be repurposed and sixth grade begin in 2015-16, there will be no additional space available in the Louisa Boren building to accommodate growth until Arbor Heights moves, which again, could be later than Sept. 2016 if there are construction delays. This also is being considered.


We know it has been suggested additional portables be brought onto site to house increased Arbor Heights classes. At this time, preliminary reviews have indicated an additional portable is not an option based on space requirements and overall land use. This is being reviewed so we can all be certain.


Seattle Public Schools’ reviews are still preliminary and we’ve not come to a final decision at this time. However, I wanted you to know the issues at hand and that we’re looking at them from every angle. I am meeting with Seattle Public Schools Senior staff on 10-20 to discuss the latest information.  Should building and enrollment evaluations conclude the least disruptive and most fiscally responsible decision is to postpone the K-8 roll up until 2016-17, the district will address this issue directly with K-5 STEM families and the school board.


In the meantime, we’ve heard your concerns for our current fifth grade class. We have begun discussions with school leaders regarding advanced math courses available in West Seattle middle schools for graduating STEM students. Should we be in a position where we are unable to start the roll up in 2015-16 school year, we are working to assure these graduating fifth graders can continue on their advanced trajectory throughout their middle school careers.


Please feel free to come to our coffee chat on Friday, 10-17 at 8:30 or connect with me if you have further questions. I will share more as soon as it is available.





Ben Ostrom

K-5 STEM Principal


"Feather The Nest" Direct Give Campaign is Live

PTA's Fall Fundraising Event is a Direct Give

The Direct Give is the K-5 STEM PTA's first fundraiser of the year and your first opportunity to help STEM students and staff get the resources they need for an enriched school year.

State and local funding is inadequate to support the vision of our school and provide the level of services we want for all of our students. The PTA works for school improvements by advocating locally and nationally, but our voices do not provide the dollars we need, so we ask for support from you, our community. We chose a Direct Give so that each dollar you spend goes directly to the school. We do not ask our students and families to sell products or gather pledges. Each donation is tax deductible, and many employers will match donations, increasing your gift to our community.

View more information about the PTA’s goals and where your generous donations go.


Welcome Letter from Principal Ben Ostrom

Dear STEM Families:

Hello and welcome back to K-5 STEM! We are meeting, planning, and working overtime to lay the foundation for an amazing school year.  As I have begun to collaborate with STEM families and staff, the level of commitment and engagement is thrilling!  I feel privileged to serve your children in conjunction with such dedicated community members.

I have been working on the answers to a multitude of questions.  The paragraphs below answer some.  As a new member of the K-5 STEM community, it has taken time to work with staff and families on priorities, systems, and procedures as we prepare for the start of school.

Some key information regarding the new year:

Slight Adjustment to K-5 STEM start and end Time:

The new transportation standards adjusted K-5 STEM’s start and end times by 5 minutes.  New start time: 9:25.  New end time: 3:40.

Pick up/Drop off/Parking:

Supervision is provided starting at 9:10 a.m. Please do not bring your child to school before 9:10 am as there is no supervision.

K-5 STEM and Arbor Heights administrators, safety committees, PTA representatives, City of Seattle, and Seattle Public Schools staff met this summer to develop a Safe Routes to School plan for entry and exit and traffic patterns (click on the link to see map). Guidelines were developed collaboratively to help ensure the safety of our students and others. We ask everyone to follow the plans for entry and exit of the Louisa Boren building.

For Morning Drop off and Dismissal:  Students may be dropped off or picked up in the designated zone on the west end of the playground.   Parents may pull into the drop off/pick up zone and supervisors will direct children accordingly.  Parents wanting to walk and pick up their children may park in the visitor parking section of the parking lot, or the park and walk section designated “School Load and Unload Only” along Delridge.  Students may not be dropped off on Delridge to walk to the playground.  To respect instructional time in a building serving more than 700 students, we ask that parents pick up and drop off outside (or in the office for late arrivals) rather than at classroom doors. 

Arbor Heights Co-location:

This summer I had the privilege of working
 with Arbor Heights Principal Christy Collins and staff and families from both schools to tackle plans and logistics around co-location.  We addressed issues including professional development, school security, safe movement of students throughout the building, emergency preparedness, and plans for school-wide Positive Behavioral Supports (PBIS) to align key school expectations.  I believe that the colocation of both schools in the Boren building for two years will create a number of benefits and opportunities for both schools! I am enthused to work with Principal Collins and the Arbor Heights staff and community to create a positive learning environment and experiences for our children.

Positive Discipline:

One outgrowth of our collaboration with Arbor Heights will be shared Positive Discipline professional development the week before school starts. Positive Discipline is a classroom management (and parenting) program designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. Based on the best selling Positive Discipline books by Dr. Jane Nelsen, it teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults.  Based on feedback from staff and community last spring, K-5 STEM’s staff made a collective decision to adopt Positive Discipline as a framework to create shared expectations for children across the building.  We were thrilled when Arbor Heights agreed to adopt the same program as we work together to support over 700 students.  More information will be provided regarding parent education opportunities in the weeks to come.

Uniform Expectations:

K-5 STEM is a uniform school!  Uniforms are adopted to build community, decrease inequalities and distractions, support safety, and many other reasons.  Visit the STEM PTA website for full details on uniform expectations and guidelines.  A uniform closet exists to support families requesting financial assistance to meet uniform guidelines, and also address short term needs.

Welcome to New and Returning Staff:

K-5 STEM welcomes several new staff members, and some staff changed assignments.  We were fortunate to add some outstanding educators to support our mission of nurturing Project Based Learning, A Culture of Accountability, and A Celebration of the Whole Child.  Names in italics are new to K-5 STEM.  Make sure to search them out and introduce yourselves.

Position Names
Kindergarten Whitney Cook, Alica Hardman
1st Soheyla Nur, Lisa Sweeney
1st/2nd Jean Wylie
2nd Jodi Williamson, Stacy Chung
2nd/3rd Ro Gluck
3rd Sunny Graves, Kent Daniels
4th Deborah Giza, Mo Newton
5th Craig Parsley, Travis DesAutels
Specialists Gretchen Gray, (PE), Julie Schmick (Technology), Marie Nelson(Performing Arts),  Mary Bannister (Library)
Special Education Chris Barrett (Resource), Veronica Gruber (SM4), Shamsah Rahim( SM4i)
Instructional Assistants Ronald Adams, Carmita Velasquez, Hayward Coleman, Greg Wolf, Clara Hanson, Luke Imboden, Craig Rankin
Support Renee Davis (.5 Counselor), Mary Bannister (.25 LAP Reading)
Office Cindy Baca, Fallon Kongsaeng
Custodial Tom Zech, Tony Dong


I am working with the PTA to support improved communication that also makes more effective use of the PTA and school websites, and School Messenger.  There are currently several efforts in the works.  There will be a weekly update going out through school messenger regarding upcoming events, a monthly newsletter, intermittent updates on important issues, and a monthly coffee chat on the third Friday of each month from 8:30-9:30 am.

K-8 Planning:

A K-8 Exploration team consisting of K-5 STEM staff and community members is meeting two times/month to plan and explore the feasibility of a 6th grade roll up for the ’15-’16 school year.  The final decision about whether 6th grade will be added for the ’15-’16 or ‘16-’17 school year will come from SPS senior leadership, not STEM. The biggest considerations include school readiness and building capacity. You can expect a larger update on this process sometime in September.

Arts Impact:

Thanks to generous Arts funding from the K-5 STEM community, staff will begin to receive Art’s Impact professional development on how to integrate arts education into day to day teaching on the early release day on September 24.

There’s a lot going on.  We will have much to share and celebrate in the weeks ahead.  Thank you for joining me and our K-5 STEM Staff to create a powerful learning community filled with scholars who are aspiring, creating, and expecting.

I’ll close with a poem from Sheeneagh Pugh.


Sometimes things don’t go, after all,

from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel

faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,

sometimes a person aims high, and all goes well.


A people sometimes will step back from war;

elect an honest person, decide they care

enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.

Some people become what they were born for.


Sometimes our best efforts do not go

amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow

that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.


I look forward to getting to know you all in person!




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