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Superintendent Rundle April Message On Exciting Data at Elementary Level, Days of Cultural Significance & Student Celebrations

Superintendent Rundle April Message On Exciting Data at Elementary Level, Days of Cultural Significance & Student Celebrations
Fred Rundle

Dear Mercer Island Community, 

If you have ever spent much time around first grade teachers you will be familiar with the term “Magical March.” March is the month when learning coalesces for many young learners, leading to academic breakthroughs. This phenomenon is not entirely unique to first graders. I was talking to a high school teacher last Friday who was sharing the successes and preparation for Advanced Placement Exams. For some scholars, they are realizing their potential in the classroom and for others it might be outside through activities, athletics, or philanthropy. No matter what, this is a great time of year to watch learning come to fruition.

I met with our elementary team members recently and wanted to share some exciting data. While achievement is important, student growth from one point in time to another is worth even greater attention. The following two charts show how our elementary students changed from the beginning of the year to the middle in both mathematics and reading.

Chart 1

How have relative placments changed from fall to winter for elementary math graphic

In all six grade levels I want to draw attention to two items:

  1. The percentage of students mid or above grade level increased in all six grades.
  2. The percentage of students below grade level decreased in each of the six grade levels.

Chart 2

How have relative placments changed from fall to winter for elementary reading graphic

In chart two, the following stands out to me:

  1. We are closing gaps and accelerating learning for our youngest readers, significantly reducing students below grade level and increasing students reading at or above grade level. Growth is important for all learners, regardless of whether they are approaching or exceeding expectations.
  2. The majority of our intermediate readers in 3rd through 5th grade are at or above grade level and this number is increasing.

Test scores are not the only indicators of success, but I am extremely pleased with the efforts of our educators, especially since they implemented both new instructional resources in math and literacy the past two years. 

We value the whole-child in our district, which is why I am looking forward to the Fine Arts Showcase tonight and tomorrow at MIHS. Tonight the focus is on visual arts with artwork from students in all grades displayed in the high school hallways. Smaller instrumental ensembles will provide additional entertainment. On Wednesday, the focus shifts to performing arts with two shows, at 6:30pm and at 7:45pm, that highlight our band, orchestra, choir, and drama students. The schedule for each show is here.

Days Of Cultural Significance

Before we take a pause for spring break, I want to spotlight several important days of significance to members of our community as well as month-long celebrations in April. 

April 10 - Eid al-Fitr
Though school will be out for spring break, the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end for Muslims around the world. I extend my heartfelt greetings to all members of our community observing Eid al-Fitr. This auspicious occasion not only signifies the conclusion of a month-long journey of fasting, prayer, and self-reflection but also embodies the spirit of unity, compassion, and gratitude. It is a time for families and friends to come together, to share in the joy of breaking fasts, and to express gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us. May the spirit of Eid inspire us all to continue spreading kindness and goodwill throughout the year. And a personal note of appreciation to our MI families who continue to teach and welcome me into new spaces for learning. Eid Mubarak to you and your loved ones!

April 22-30 - Passover
Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, holds profound significance in Jewish tradition as it commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The first Seder, a ceremonial meal held on the first two nights of Passover, is a time for families and communities to gather and partake in symbolic rituals, such as the eating of matzah (unleavened bread). It is a celebration of freedom, faith, and resilience, reminding us of the enduring values of justice and compassion. As Passover begins at sundown on April 22nd and continues until nightfall on April 30th, I extend my warmest wishes to all those observing this sacred holiday. May your Passover be filled with joy, peace, and blessings, as you gather with loved ones to celebrate the rich traditions and spiritual significance of this special time.

World Autism Month
As we embark on World Autism Month, it is essential to acknowledge the historical significance of this global observance. Initially April 2nd was designated by the United Nations in 2007, World Autism Awareness Day, serving as a beacon of advocacy and understanding for individuals on the autism spectrum. Over the years, this single day has evolved into a month-long campaign, engaging communities worldwide in initiatives aimed at raising awareness, promoting acceptance, and advocating for the rights of individuals with autism. As we honor this tradition, let us reflect on the strides we've made and the work that lies ahead in ensuring inclusivity and belonging for all members of our very own community here on Mercer Island. Our commitment to embracing diversity and fostering empathy not only defines us but also continues to shape Mercer Island into a place where every individual's unique talents and perspectives are celebrated.

National Arab American Heritage Month
National Arab American Heritage Month is celebrated each April, and we celebrate the vibrant culture and rich contributions of Arab Americans to our society. It's a time to honor their resilience, achievements, and diverse heritage, which have enriched the fabric of our nation. Among others, I would like to spotlight important Arab Americans such as Helen Thomas, the first female member of the White House Correspondents' Association and the first female officer of the National Press Club and Dr. Elias Zerhouni, a renowned Algerian-American radiologist and former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Let us embrace the values of inclusion, respect, and understanding as we recognize and appreciate the valuable contributions of Arab Americans to our communities.

National Student Leadership Week April 24-30
National Student Leadership Week holds profound importance in our educational community as it provides a dedicated platform for recognizing and empowering our scholars. This is affirmed by our five Student Focused Fundamentals. During this week, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of our student leaders and highlight the significance of fostering leadership skills among all our students. It serves as a reminder of the vital role young voices play in shaping our future and driving positive change in our society. By encouraging student leadership, we not only uplift individual scholars but also cultivate a culture of active participation, innovation, and inclusivity within our schools. Through their diverse perspectives and unwavering dedication, our students inspire us to envision a brighter tomorrow and reaffirm our commitment to nurturing the leaders of the future.

Two areas MISD students can be leaders in our district are as Student Representative to the School Board and as a member of Superintendent Student Advisory (SSA).  

Student Representatives attend regular meetings of the Board, participate in monthly Superintendent Student Advisory meetings, meet weekly with MIHS administration, and represent the District at state conventions and legislative assemblies. Student representatives may cast advisory votes on most matters decided by the Board

MIHS senior Asha Woerner’s term as a Student Representative is coming to an end as she will be graduating in June. The Board is now accepting applications from MIHS sophomores to serve as a Student Representative to the Board for a two-year term. Sophomores interested in applying can find out more information and get application materials on our website.

The SSA is a representative student body of 5th-12th grade students which meets approximately eight times during the school year. SSA members share student perspectives at meetings and represent the voice of students on issues and policies that directly affect the student body.  The application period for SSA opens on April 15. Students interested in being a part of SSA will find application materials on the SSA website

Student Celebrations

Congratulations are in order for several MISD students and groups: 

Our friends at Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) launched a new website, Parenting Mercer Island, just a few weeks ago. The website will be a great resource for our community as it provides tools to address everyday parenting challenges using a process that grows the skills our children need to be successful. I highly recommend you visit the site and take advantage of all it has to offer families. 

We need to keep our focus and determination for a few more days this week as we all finish strong prior to spring break. I hope you are able to use spring break to refresh and re-energize for the last two months of the school year.


Fred Rundle