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Leading During Remote Learning

In Kent School District (KSD) we celebrate our principals and assistant principals during National Principals Month in October each year, but like everything else, it looks a little different this year. Our schools might not be filled with students every day, but our school leaders are still going above and beyond to build relationships and support them during these changing times. This month, we’re highlighting some of our incredible school leaders and asking them about how they’re supporting their students.

Mill Creek Middle School Students Stay Connected From Home Thanks to Creative School Leaders 

Sarah Shaw Each year, our middle schools have the unique challenge and opportunity of welcoming half of their student body as new students coming from multiple different elementary schools, which makes building community even more important. Leaders at Mill Creek Middle School have been finding creative ways to help students continue to connect and build friendships during remote learning. 

“During remote learning I’ve especially missed the conversations I would have with students and staff in the hallways and at lunchtime,” Mill Creek Middle School’s Assistant Principal Sarah Shaw said.  

One of the ways Shaw and her team have managed to keep their students and staff connected outside of class is by organizing virtual lunch conversations where students from across the school can join. 

“The idea grew out of missing those lunch conversations and the excitement of our lunch room, it is a great time for them to find new friends and feel connected to their new school," Shaw said. “We love being able to chat with students about things not related to school, to see their passions and talents and to share some community.” 

She said they are holding these virtual lunches twice a week and have had anywhere from 10 to 45 students choose to participate.  

“One student shows off her artwork, others have shown their siblings and pets,” she explained. “We hope it continues to grow as students find joy and connection!” 

Shaw first joined Team KSD in 2009 as a student teacher at Kentridge High School. She has since taught at East Hill Elementary School and Kent-Meridian High School and became the Assistant Principal at Mill Creek Middle School two years ago. 

Supporting Students’ Social & Emotional Wellness at Daniel Elementary School

Jen Hoglund This is Jennifer Hoglund’s first year as principal of Daniel Elementary School, and it’s been a year like no other! Throughout remote learning, she’s been able to find the silver linings and continue to focus on support her staff, students, and families. 

"It has been great to meet and collaborate and plan around how to best support student learning in these unique times,” she said.  

Before becoming principal this year, Hoglund was assistant principal at Daniel and has been a member of Team KSD for seven years. 

“I am proud of our staff’s commitment to the social and emotional wellness of our students,” she said. “Social emotional learning is a passion of mine and I truly believe that is one of our most important roles as educators as we prepare students to be kind, responsible, resilient citizens." 

All of our schools have implemented daily morning meetings for the first few weeks of school to help support students during these challenging times, and Hoglund said she and her team have been so impressed with the outcomes they’re going to continue with them all year.  

"Our morning meetings have been invaluable time to connect and build relationships with students,” she said. “We have many students who we have been able to make an extra connection with and solve a problem like access to our KSD lunches, technology support, or just letting their teacher know they need an extra check in through our weekly survey data.” 

She said it’s also helping them begin important conversations around topics like racial equity. 

“We are expanding the weekly social emotional read alouds to begin conversations on social justice issues centering on racial and gender equality. We are also ensuring students see themselves in the content we present and discuss as representation is a big goal for our newly created Equity Team this year!”