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    Semester 2 Principal Letter
    Posted on 02/01/2019
    This is the image for the news article titled Semester 2 Principal LetterDear WMS Parent/Guardian,

    You will notice that your child’s schedule will be different in Semester 2 from Semester 1. Changes at semester are a common practice in secondary schools. While these changes may produce some anxiety for your scholar in the first few days of the semester, students will settle in to their new schedules with teacher and family support. Being resilient through course transitions between grading periods is an important skill for your child to master as they will continue to happen throughout the remainder of your child’s academic career. In many cases, students will be in the same core classes (ELA, math, science, social studies) with the same teachers but a different combination of students.

    In the past, WMS students have experienced few changes at semester. While I cannot explain why or how that was done, I wanted to share with you some of the causes for change this school year.
    • Personnel
    . We have three staff members out on maternity leave second semester, representing nearly 10% of our teaching staff. Both semester schedules were built with these long-term absences in mind.
    • Instruction. While very few students will experience a change in their content-area teacher, in some cases changes were made to improve the instruction for our students with the greatest needs.
    • Reduction and/or balancing of class sizes. We had several courses with class section sizes below 30 and other sections with higher than 32. Restructuring the master schedule enabled us to balance out class size in several courses.
    • Student needs. The school’s shift to less restrictive environments for students receiving special education and English Language Learning services means that services for these students can change during the year as changes are needed. Some of these shifts required changes to specific teachers’ schedules, which produce ripple effects to other courses.
    • Reduction in teacher preps. We had several teachers with three to four courses or “preps” to plan for, while several others had only one. Balancing the number of preps between teachers creates for a more sustainable work environment.
    • School size. With the reduction in school size and consequently teachers, particularly those teaching electives, changes at semester should be expected.
    • Pilot of new courses. We piloted a new course in our music department this semester. In order to support teachers’ planning of new course curriculum, both sections of the course were scheduled at the same time for Semester 1, limiting the number of students whose schedules enabled them to take the course. The two sections of this course were moved to different time periods which enabled us to increase the number of students who can take the course.
    • Learning and Continuous improvement. If something isn’t working, it needs to be changed. We know anecdotally and by looking at the school’s student achievement data over time that we have not been providing an excellent education to portions of our school community that are closely tied to students’ race, income, and receipt of special education services. With so much at stake in a child’s education, “waiting until next year” just isn’t an ethical option. While the changes at semester may be temporarily inconvenient for your scholar, consider that the change may be extremely positive for others.

    If you have questions or concerns about your student’s schedule, email our counselor, Michael Matsumoto, mamatsumoto@seattleschools.org. Reminder that we are currently down to one counselor and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner. Your patience is appreciated.

    Thank you for your support and partnership.

    Sincerely,
    Emily A. Butler Ginolfi