Things to celebrate in our schools

Two news items about the Bremerton School District that were put out this week have me combining them into a single column.

The first item is in regards to the extension of Superintendent Dr. Aaron Leavell’s contract for another three years. I think this extension is fantastic for Bremerton. For the first time, in the eight years I have been a parent to a Bremerton School District student, the district has had by far the least amount of drama and contention going on at any one time. I very much appreciate the stability and transparency that several members of the school board and the superintendent have brought to the district in just the past year alone.

When Superintendent Leavell was appointed, some practical and realistic course corrections needed to be made for the district to stay the course and be able to fulfill the promises that it had made to its students and to the community both short and long term. These course corrections did not come easily and the pushback of the expansion to the West Hills STEM Academy to 2015 was a tough pill to swallow for some. However, the more immediate need to replace the roof on the high school should have always been the priority when it came to spending the initial collections from the capital improvement levy.

I look forward to continuing to work with the superintendent and the many committed and dedicated members of the school district come fall when the next school year begins.

The second item in regards to the Bremerton School District is the reporting of a very sad passing. Nina King, a longtime kindergarten teacher at Naval Avenue Elementary, unexpectedly passed away this month. Nina was my own child’s first teacher. The year that Nick entered kindergarten was the first year that all-day kindergarten was implemented districtwide. It was a learning experience for both the educators and the students and even to some degree for parents like me.

I was fortunate enough to then be working part time, only four days a week, and was able to volunteer one a day week in the classroom for the entire school year with Nina and her students. It was a wonderful and exhausting experience. In some ways it made me grateful to have only one child during most of the week, because every Wednesday I had 21 of them.

While Nina appreciated the classroom assistance from parents, there was never any doubt that she could easily handle the bunch of them without even breaking a sweat most of the time. On the other hand, I would go home after a single day feeling like a rung out dishrag looking for a quiet, dark corner to hide in.

Several of the students in that kindergarten class are still in the district and still in classes with my own child. I have appreciated the connections that were built on my volunteer hours in Nina’s class with those students. I love watching them turn into such great kids.

My condolences go out to Nina’s home family as well as her Naval Avenue family. It won’t quite be the same this fall without her shepherding in the newest groups of students to the district. Thank you Nina.



Colleen Smidt writes weekly about things that are happening in the Bremerton community.


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