Superintendent Message

May 2018

Mike NelsonYou may have heard stories about Mrs. Roche. She was my fourth grade teacher at J.J. Smith Elementary School just a few years ago! Mrs. Roche loved us. I knew this by her smile, her gestures, her ability to listen and her commitment to opening the door and greeting us each morning.

Mrs. Roche inspired us to be readers. She chose the best read aloud novels that would entice us to read other books by the same author or she would choose books that were just above our reading level to encourage us to continue to improve... such a brilliant strategy!

Mrs. Roche taught us to problem-solve and care for one another. I can distinctly remember situations in which we had difficulties at recess. She guided us to on how to talk with one another when there was a problem.

Mrs. Roche wanted us all to succeed. I remember her designing ways for us to work together for us all to be successful on a math, science or spelling test. We celebrated when she felt we were all successful and she was honest with us when she felt we could do better. She would design a new way to teach us and then we took the test again. This would often occur in taking a pretest on Tuesday and the final test on Friday. Don’t ask me why a ten year-old remembers this. I guess it was a part of my program to become a teacher!

Mrs. Roche seemed to “know” me; maybe it was through the questions she asked or the writing prompts she gave us, she built a trusting relationship with me.

About 22 years ago when I was the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in the Federal Way Public Schools, I was the keynote speaker at our literacy conference for elementary staff in our 23 schools. I researched and found Mrs. Roche living in Southwest Washington. I invited her to attend the keynote address. My keynote address was built upon Mrs. Roche's stories sharing the impact she had on me and others in our class. At the end of the speech, I brought her on stage to surprise the staff with the “real” Mrs. Roche. Mary Holland is a lifelong friend who was also in the same fourth grade class also attended this speech. Here is a photo of us from the event (just remember it was 22 years ago!). I am grateful to Mrs. Roche!

We recently celebrated our classified and certificated staff during national appreciation weeks. In our various roles throughout the schools and district, each of us are the Mrs. Roche for many and for that I am so grateful.

In Partnership with you,

Mike Nelson's signature graphic