Superintendent: Thank you, Tahoma Community

Superintendent: Thank you, Tahoma Community
Posted on 06/18/2021
Screenshot of end of year celebration video
Memories of the first day of school and the last day linger well after we reach adulthood. Both days are exciting and mark important milestones for every student. Parents and teachers understand the tremendous positive changes and sense of belonging that occur for students between those two days. 

So, what memories will be associated with the 2020-2021 school year, which began with remote learning for all students and ended with a blend of remote and hybrid? Will this be a year that was ruined by the challenges of COVID-19, or one in which students and their families adapted and persevered despite a global pandemic?

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said something once that seems appropriate as we think of the struggles that students, families and staff faced this year: “Every setback has a major comeback.” 

During a recent School Board meeting, we reviewed a report about the school district’s response to the pandemic. It was both sobering and exhilarating to look back at the route we constructed to help Tahoma navigate the most disruptive global event of our lives. Here are a few things that stood out:
• Since March of 2020, our teaching and learning staff, classroom teachers, classified support professionals, and principals have created and implemented three new education models to adapt to the pandemic: emergency remote learning; remote learning and hybrid learning;
• Led by our operations team of nurses, teachers, administrators, custodians and support staff we created new health and safety protocols, new cleaning and disinfection practices, and established health screening, testing and contact tracing for COVID-19;
• Our Nutrition Services staff devised ways of packaging and distributing meals to all students who wanted them;
• Tahoma counselors established mental health support services for remote students;
• We completed our five-year goals process, using teleconferencing to bring parents, staff and other stakeholders together to discuss and plan.

None of these things were accomplished without the dedication, creativity, commitment and energy of our staff. To those who gave up weekends, vacations and evenings in service to our students, I can only offer my most sincere gratitude and admiration for your selfless service. Your work made a difference in the lives of our students.

To our students and families, I have an appreciation of what we describe as authentic partnership with you. Despite the hardships created by COVID-19, we witnessed the resilience and dedication of our students and the support provided to them by their families. It has never been more clear that as individuals, if we care deeply enough, we can impact our learning community in positive ways. Consider the Drive-Through Halloween Ship event that student Cooper Perez, community member Eric Knudsen and family, and the Middle Schools of Tahoma PTA created together. In a very short timeframe, they planned, executed and hosted an event that brought in 3.2 tons of food for the Maple Valley Food Bank. It brought a much-needed sense of normalcy and hope when our community yearned for it.

Our education efforts could not have succeeded without your engagement and cooperation. We also know there were struggles, and that some students faced steeper challenges than others. We will do everything we can to help those students get what they need as they return to school next fall.

Looking ahead to the next school year feels immensely better than it did a year ago. We can’t wait for our students to be back in school full time next year. The benefits of being together in person are well known and we are eager to begin. There are still challenges to overcome and I am confident that we will be successful. Our comeback, as Russell Wilson might say, is well underway.

For a video celebration of our students, families, staff and community, click here.

Please have an enjoyable summer. Thank you for helping us be better together.

Mike Hanson
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