Follow us:

Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Fairmount Elementary

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

April 11, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Skin in the game: Talking race, culture and multi-colored lockers

JulieGrayscale

Julie Breidenbach

New schools don’t crop up every day. So watching the formation of Fairmount Elementary, scheduled to open this September in West Seattle, has been instructive.

Parents may assume the most difficult tasks would be selecting a curriculum, and hiring the right teachers. Not so, says Julie Breidenbach, a Seattle School District veteran and current principal at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, selected for this weighty job.

Actually, it’s the little things: Making sure that student lockers are in different colors, so that kids who can’t yet count can still find theirs; ensuring a child-friendly system for communication with parents.

What follows — a free-wheeling conversation with Fairmount’s new principal — is the third installment of “Skin in the Game,” an occasional series tracking the birth of Seattle’s newest school.

Q: You’ve collected a pretty active group of parents already. How do you juggle their concerns as community members with your own ideas for what Fairmount needs?

A: It’s a big emotional investment, where your child goes to school, so that doesn’t surprise me. There are some certain things that educators do, and certain things parents do and sometimes these things overlap — a bit. But I’ve learned over the years to set some very clear boundaries. Time is finite and there are things I’m not going to waste a lot of time discussing, like uniforms. ‘No’ means no.

Q: You’re considered a strong supporter of education for gifted students. But a lot of people around here feel that Seattle’s Accelerated Progress Program, with its vast majority of white children, is little more than racial segregation.

More

0 Comments | More in News | Topics: Fairmount Elementary, Seattle Public Schools

February 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Into the deep end: Schools reporter morphs into mom

I’ve covered public education, off and on, for decades. But schools look very different when your own skin’s in the game. This was my thinking as I sat with 60 other parents planning to enroll our kids in yet-to-be-opened Fairmount Elementary come September.

Plenty gets said about the Seattle school district — that it’s segregated, unequal and lets too many children languish — so I’d prepared myself to leave the meeting suitably frustrated. But listening to Fairmount’s new principal, Julie Breidenbach, I was heartened.

Literacy will be her mantra. Music, her holy grail. And science-tech-math? Not so much.

“I look at this as my little public charter school,” Breidenbach said, demonstrating her acknowledged penchant for operating without much of a political filter. “We’ll be inclusive of all children, but we get to do some things differently.”

Difference Number One: A strong push-back against the technology flavor-du-jour.

More

0 Comments | More in News | Topics: Fairmount Elementary, Seattle Public Schools