Haller Middle School sixth graders work on a class project in the school’s new outdoor classroom. (Arlington Public Schools)

Haller Middle School sixth graders work on a class project in the school’s new outdoor classroom. (Arlington Public Schools)

Back to campus but outside the walls

A new outdoor classroom at Haller Middle School in Arlington is allowing students to take a mask break and interact with each other in a unique learning setting. Current state Department of Health guidance allows students to remove facial coverings when they’re outside.

Last year, Haller science teacher Rachel Harrington applied for and received a $5,000 Ellison Foundation grant. The grant paid for a gazebo, shed and learning materials for the outdoor classroom. The district added a concrete pad and fencing to enclose the area.

“I think it’s important to branch outside the four walls of the classroom and allow students to experience a different learning environment where they can work on projects with their classmates,” said Harrington. “When we were learning virtually, it was very challenging for students to interact with each other. Socialization is such a big part of learning and this setting really allows for that.”

All classes at Haller can use the outdoor classroom and students seem to really enjoy the unique setting.

“I wasn’t a huge fan of Zoom classes last year,” said sixth grader Logan Cardoso. ““I really like this outdoor classroom. It’s a great way to talk with friends while working on projects.”

Verdant gives $1.4 million to 11 groups

The Verdant Health Commission Board of Commissioners recently approved $1.39 million in grants to 11 organizations supporting community health needs in south Snohomish County.

Those funds, combined with others doled out in earlier grants, bring Verdant’s total to about $3.67 million this year.

The recipients are: Cancer Lifeline, $14,000; Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County; $80,000; Girls on the Run of Snohomish County, $24,605; Jean Kim Foundation, $246,633; Korean Community Service Center, $115,000; Medical Teams International, $150,000; Parent Trust for Washington Children, $7,900; South County Fire, $351,900; Washington West African Center, $114,600; Wonderland Child & Family Services Hope RISING Clinic, $195,000; and YMCA of Greater Seattle, $93,330.

“These programs make it easier for our residents to get the care and resources they need,” Commissioner Karianna Wilson said in a news release. “Our board understands that navigating through complex healthcare and social service systems can be complicated, which is why we have prioritized funding programs that will help connect individuals and families to these services. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact these grants will have on our community.”

Verdant’s next window for grant applications is Nov. 8-19. Zoe Reese, Verdant’s director of community impact and grantmaking, can answer questions or discuss ideas that organizations have by contacting Reese at zoe.reese@verdanthealth.org or call 425-582-8572.

Marysville, Skykomish teachers nominated for national award

Marysville Getchell High School special education teacher Jim Strickland is a nominee for the 2021-2022 national LifeChanger of the Year award.

Katrina Ring, the parent of a student, nominated Strickland for the recognition as one of the best K-12 educators and school district employees.

In the nomination, Ring said Strickland puts on monthly karaoke sessions for students, joins them on a walking path, and holds hangouts at the local movie theater. When one of the students is hurt or struggling, he shows compassion. Strickland even goes to sporting events and Special Olympics games to cheer on his students and friends. Oftentimes, he will spend money out of his own pocket to pay for snacks, tickets, missing library books, yearbooks, or school shirts.

“My family recently moved 200 miles away, and he has kept my son in Zoom gatherings, feeling like a part of the friend group he left behind,” Ring said in a news release. “Mr. Strickland is a one-of-a-kind teacher. He has changed lives by loving students and boosting their confidence.”

Ann Walker, a recently retired elementary school teacher in the Skykomish School District, also was nominated for the award.

“Ann has been our K -2 teacher over the last 35 years and has made a lasting impact on several generations,” said Kimberly McCullough who nominated Walker.

Hundreds of nominations are submitted to LifeChanger of the Year every year. Prizes are shared by the recipient, their school and district. The grand prize is $10,000, four finalists get $5,000, and 10 award winners get $3,000. One Spirit Award winner whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination gets $5,000. A Capstone Award winner for a nominee who retired at the end of the 2019-20 school year gets $3,000. The Spotlight Award winner is for a school nurse who will get $5,000.

Winners are chosen by a committee comprised of former winners and education professionals.

Know someone who deserves recognition? Call 425-339-3432 or email newstips@heraldnet.com

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