poetry-with-teachersFINALHope springs eternal. Sounds like the epitaph for this year’s Seattle Mariners who have struggled mightily over the past decade. Although there is no Bambino Curse on Safeco Field, I suspect we lifelong Mariner fans will suffer another long year. The “dog days of summer” separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Like every new baseball season, freshness is found in new beginnings. That’s what I love about spring. In regard to our future district budget, I’m happy to report a sense of new hope. The McCleary v. State Supreme Court ruling was a game changer. For the first time in a decade, Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) was not given a deficit budget by elected officials in Olympia. Imagine a year with no talk about reductions in our valued programs and services to students!

VPS and the Vancouver Education Association (VEA) led the way among districts in Southwest Washington four years ago when we joined the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS). On behalf of our board of directors, I want to thank VEA leaders for their financial support and collaboration with VPS in the NEWS lawsuit. With this spirit of cooperation, we can achieve great things on behalf of our community’s children. Given an improving economy and the Supreme Court’s commitment to oversee legislative accountability to the McCleary v. State ruling and HB 2261 (full funding for K-12 education), our budget outlook is indeed brighter.

We all have the power to inspire new beginnings through written and spoken words. This month’s Webb e-News features two resident student poet laureates: juniors Ben Caldwell from the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and Yayra Ami Tamakloe from Fort Vancouver High School. As gifted writers, Ben and Yayra participated in the Southwest Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition, a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The Washington State Arts Commission sponsors the regional event in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and Educational Service District 112. Students from the region’s high schools competed for two spots in the state finals held in the Rialto Theater in Tacoma. Ben and Yayra represented Southwest Washington and their schools in this competition.

Both artists recently performed their award-winning pieces for an ESD 112 regional business meeting. They were outstanding representatives of VPS.

Listen for yourself:
Becoming a Redwood
by Dana Gioia
performed by Ben Cadwell
Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou
performed by Yayra Ami Tamakloe


Their performances were remarkable, drawing a prolonged standing ovation from my colleagues and me. I knew at once that I had to showcase their gifts. It was a proud moment for Ben and Yayra, and I’m sure it was a proud moment for teachers Judy Goff and Bethany Rivard, who deserve accolades for providing support and inspiration. It’s evident they love what they do—making a difference in the lives of students.

Those of us working in public education are eternal optimists. We create hope. We shape futures. We engender passion. We equip young people with the knowledge, skills and habits to be successful in life. We endeavor to develop a courageous belief in our graduates that they can achieve anything through perseverance and tenacity. Maybe even a pennant. Like Ben and Yayra’s artistry, hope springs eternal.

Thanks again for all that you do.

Take care,

Image: Steve's signature