THANK YOU to the school district and teachers, the Village that Helped get my kids to the land of ‘adulting’

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and in its honor we wanted to re-share this article written four years ago as a tribute to the district and teachers that helped shaped a soon-to-be high school graduate. She headed off – packing all the knowledge instilled by MANY teachers, some ambition and a decent amount of fear – to the east coast, and in two short weeks becomes college graduate.

Two little words are critical here:  THANK YOU.

I don’t say those words often enough, but when you start reliving every year of your child’s school years, the moments aren’t the only thing that pop to mind.  The people in those memories come creeping in –  and how they impacted your child’s formative years, helped prepare them for the next journey outside of this small Valley and maybe even leave their mark on this big world.

My soon-to-be graduate was fortunate enough to spend her entire K-12 school career in one public district, find great friends, be surrounded by great neighbors – and when she headed off to school, be nurtured and mentored by wonderful SVSD staff members… from the bus, to the hallways, to the lunchroom, to the playground, to the library, to the classroom and to the front office.

In kindergarten Mrs. Kenoyer helped me not panic when she was still writing letters and numbers backward. In 1st grade Mr. O’Keefe constructed a stage in his room, grilled the kids with flashcards and math facts and made sure they read 15 minutes each night.

In second grade we met Ms. Porter (now Mrs. Snyder) who was in her first year of teaching, became engaged and whose wedding we attended the following year. In 3rd grade we moved to a new school when Cascade View opened.  That’s when we met Ms. Culver (now Mrs. Paige).  Ms. Culver pushed that little girl in pigtails and glasses – and made her do LOTS of projects and presentations. We have been privileged to watch that teacher have a family of her own, even though she no longer teaches here.

In 4th grade we met Mrs. Bernardo, who apparently decided a studious child like my daughter should not have crazy, sloppy handwriting.  My daughter complained about how much Mrs. Bernardo rode her about that messy handwriting, but I told her if that’s the only thing she has to ride you about, then you’re lucky.  Danielle Bernardo was also the first teacher to inspire my child to write. When we missed school to travel to Mexico, she required my daughter to journal everyday – which she did and now has a passion for filling spiral notebooks with thoughts and stories in her VERY neat, legible handwriting.

5th grade we met Mrs. Anderson, who lived across the street from school. What a treat it was if you earn enough reward points to have lunch at her home where Mr. Anderson made great dessert. Mrs. Anderson also went on to teach my youngest two children (at two different SVSD schools) and we got to know her daughters who worked at the local Starbucks.

Middle school… ah, the SMS memories. Anna and Jean in the front office always fielding my questions; Ms. Kern and her perfect counseling ways; Mrs. Huschle and art class where a studious kid found her hidden artist; Mr. Kiser and his tough, high school-like 8th grade science class; and Mr. Burford – sometimes a little ornery and opinionated (in a good way), and no matter how much his musings infuriated my quiet 8th grade girl, she would NOT speak up. He told me once he could see all the great thoughts circulating her mind and that if she didn’t start participating, he would start calling on her every single day. He should know she found her voice, although she still probably wouldn’t debate him.

High school… where to start. Bronwyn McDaniels – the master of the attendance office and 1600 students; Mr. Dillon and all his stories, always ready with food and water for purchase; Mr. Hansen who made my child’s lazy tooshie run like crazy in PE; Mr. Goldhammer who challenged her writing and was annoyed when she missed school to travel and work trade shows with her father – even though she did her homework on the road and still earned an A.

Oh, Mr. Bopp, her first AP teacher. He was fearful that his World History students had absolutely NO grasp of geography, where things were located in the world. But he took a group of 15-year old kids that thought the Alps were in Alaska and Congo was in South America and taught them vital study skills, how to draw a proper world map – and that history existed beyond their own country’s borders.

Message from Mr. Bopp to students at the beginning of sophomore year AP World History.
Message from Mr. Bopp to students at the beginning of sophomore year AP World History.

The Home Stretch, Knocking on College’s Door

Half way through high school she found the class that changed it all – Mr. Jackson’s AP English class – the class she tried to drop, but was required to keep.  I believe she found and honed her passion in that classroom – and then took that newfound passion into Mrs. Sales’ room for American Law and Mr. Clifford’s history class.

Senior year came much too fast…. back with Mr. Goldhammer; Forensic Science with Mrs. Sales again  – and this year traveling to Seattle to visit the SPD Crime (CSI) Lab; AP Spanish with Mrs. Foster – or as simply known, “Senora” – where she signed a contract for Spanish immersion and seemingly found a surrogate mother; and Ms. Roberts – the most patient math teacher, who answered every question and helped ensure she passed Calculus.

For our story, I am positive there are hundreds more like it that other high school seniors and parents could tell. It doesn’t matter what school or course path your child was on, other teachers/staff members had the same impact on other students – and they probably aren’t thanked enough.

Thirteen years in the Snoqualmie Valley School District went much faster than we could have ever imagined when we walked into Snoqualmie Elementary School in September 2002.

These are just some of the memories that came to mind now.  Tomorrow I will remember more and wish I had added more names and more long ago remembered fragments to this piece. But just because the names aren’t on this page doesn’t mean their work, their caring, their patience, their efforts went unnoticed.

It really does take a village, which includes all the employees of our school district – from classified staff, to teaching staff, to counselors, to administrators.

So to all of them – please know you helped send a well-rounded, well-educated, caring human being out into the world ready to take it on.


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