Teachers consider levies critical to learning | Guest Column | Oct. 8

Teachers and staff members of the Bainbridge Island School District truly appreciate our community’s generous support for education, and we are asking voters to continue that support in November.

Over the past three years, the state has made drastic cuts to school funding and additional cuts are expected for the next few years.

The two levies on the November ballot are critical to student learning: the supplemental EP&O levy can be used to fund teacher and staff salaries, and the renewal tech levy will keep our current level of technology in working order.

Because of long-term financial planning, approval of these two measures will continue to honor the district’s commitment to keep local school taxes stable.

Here are some examples of how essential technology is used daily throughout all grades in our school system:

Ian Eisenhood (second-grade teacher):

“Technology supports and enriches everything I do in the classroom. Its use by students provides a foundation for life-long learning and exploration.

“They have followed a Monarch butterfly’s actual migration to Mexico, have worked on writing skills and have used laptops to access an online collection of audio books that far surpasses my classroom collection.”

Lisa Hale (seventh/eighth grade math teacher): “Technology has increased and expedited all communication with students and parents. All notes in our math class are digitized so that students can access them at home through our website. This supports students who are absent or need additional processing time or parent support.

“When lessons include ‘response clickers,’ each student is engaged in answering questions that give me immediate feedback on his/her understanding, and the amount of review or re-teaching needed. This assessment guides my instruction.”

Kathy Ellison (fifth/sixth grade librarian): “The 2006 levy allowed us to purchase a unified, web-based library system for the entire district. The changes we’ve seen have been significant. Our integrated system vastly increased student resources for research and data gathering.

“Librarians are more efficient in assisting students with effective online searches and with interlibrary loans. Last year, Sakai students checked out and returned over 18,000 items – quite remarkable considering there are only 9,000 books in our school’s collection. A renewal of the tech levy would allow my colleagues and me to continue to provide quality library services to our students.”

Enrique Chee (BHS physics teacher): “Technology tools are vital. I couldn’t imagine teaching science without them. One example is scientific probes. They enhance student learning because they assist in real-time data collection, feeding that data to the computer via an interface.

“Computer software can generate graphs for analysis – graphs that can be synchronized with actual video of the experiment.

“Furthermore, computers can plot a variety of types of graphs, so different student learning styles can be accommodated. Using probes to collect data permits students to conduct experiments that might otherwise be too difficult.

“Using probes also offers portability for field study. The end product is that, in every aspect of the scientific activity, students have the opportunity to utilize critical thinking skills. It’s exciting work!”

We are passionate about teaching the children of Bainbridge Island. Education is not stagnant. Our joy as teachers revolves around encouraging active learners, ensuring students understand deeply the concepts we teach.

Guiding students effectively involves a supportive community. Together, we can sustain quality education with your “yes” votes for the school levies on Nov. 2.

Boo Schneider is a third grade teacher and president of the Bainbridge Island Education Association.

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