Tag Archives: Bremerton School District

Video of Bremerton teacher shows challenge of classroom management

Note on Feb. 24: My apologies. Due to a coding error, the video did not show up when I posted it. Video should work now. Chris Henry, reporter

Today’s story in our six-part series on student discipline focuses on a Bremerton classroom, where teacher Veda Langford manages her students with a blend of compassion and discipline.

Here’s the video of Langford’s class, which posted on Day 1, in case you missed it.

Bremerton: A footnote on superintendent appointment

I’ve brought this up before in relation to superintendent searches in South Kitsap. Here it comes again, sparked by the recent appointment of Aaron Leavell as Bremerton School District’s new superintendent.

In 2008, the South Kitsap school board appointed then-assistant Superintendent Dave LaRose to succeed then-outgoing Superintendent Bev Cheney. Both LaRose and Leavell were well known to district constituents and well-liked by most. Leavell, like LaRose, has been the district’s assistant superintendent.

But the SKSD board got some serious blowback for presuming that LaRose’s appointment would be universally welcomed. The board announced its intention to hire LaRose to lead the district and held forums so district residents could comment before making it official. Then-board president Patty Henderson said the board had heard LaRose was applying for the Bremerton superintendent position (vacated by Bette Hyde and eventually filled by Flip Herndon), and SKSD didn’t want to lose LaRose to another district.

The tide of comments at the 2008 SKSD superintendent forums indicated a public slighted by the process. The overwhelming majority praised LaRose but said other candidates should have been considered, even if the intention was to hire from within.

Comments like this from then-former school board member Chris Lemke were common. (Lemke is now on the board again, but was elected after LaRose was appointed.)

“He’s a wonderful man,” Lemke said. “What I disagree with, there are other candidates. Give them the chance to speak, and give people the opportunity to speak about them.”

In contrast, the Bremerton school board was careful not to overtly express its intentions, although several comments by board members hinted at the direction they were heading.

The BSD board held a community forum Aug. 30, inviting city residents to talk about the district’s needs and the search process in general. The overwhelming majority at that meeting clamored for the board to appoint Leavell.

At the next meeting, the BSD board took their suggestion and welcomed Leavell with open arms.

While none of the Bremerton board members mentioned LaRose’s appointment, it seemed to be hovering in the back of their minds.

In comments made before the motion to appoint Leavell, board member Dave Rubio Rubie said he has taken note of “other districts” who have hired from within.

“They key point is they didn’t get feedback from all stakeholders,” Rubio Rubie said. “I really wanted to make sure we were following the process correctly and that we were listening to all sides and all positions.”

To conclude this footnote, I think it’s fair to say that the controversy surrounding LaRose’s appointment didn’t substantially affect his tenure.

Here’s Patty Henderson explaining the SKSD board’s thinking before it formalized appointment of LaRose. He is now in California, replaced this summer by Michelle Reid.

Herndon’s application to another district no surprise, top BSD officials says

Wayne Lindberg, director of finance and operations for Bremerton School District, said Friday the news that Superintendent Flip Herndon was applying for superintendent of the Renton School District did not come as a surprise to him or other top BSD administrators. Herndon had earlier informed his “cabinet” of his intentions, since part of the application process involves interviewing a candidate’s current school district.

Lindberg furthermore wasn’t surprised that Herndon — who in 2012 applied for superintendent of the Puyallup School District — was continuing his search for a position in a larger, more urban district closer to Seattle. Herndon bought a home in Bremerton after he was hired in 2009, but his family lives in Seattle.

“It wasn’t a surprise, because we knew he wanted to get back on the other side of the water to be close to his family,” Lindberg said.

Asked how he feels about the prospect of losing Herndon, 43, to another district, Lindberg said. “It’s unfortunate, but a young upwardly mobile person, it’s not unexpected.”

Lindberg said Herndon has contributed to the district’s financial stability by encouraging a move toward paperless record-keeping. He also pushed for a science-math focused program at what is now West Hill STEM Academy.

Bremerton School District to lose a longtime ‘people for that’

George Dockins, executive director of the Public School Employees of Washington, delivers high praise to Yvonne Dean, who is retiring after 24 years with the Bremerton School District. (This poorly focused photo was taken by Steven Gardner, who we hope did a better job with the blog entry itself.)

Yvonne Dean saw her husband retire while their two daughters were preparing for college and decided to take work as a substitute teacher in the Bremerton School District.

That was 1988.

On Tuesday she was celebrated by fellow members of the Bremerton Professional Education Association. Dean is retiring.

“We’re going to be lose a historian,” said Wanda Liner at Tuesday’s regular meeting that turned into a tribute. “We’re going to have some big shoes to fill, especially in the union.”

The union is made up with the school district’s equivalent of the “people for that.” You know, like that time you spilled the shrimp sauce on the carpet at Alex Rodriguez’ house. You started to clean it up yourself, but Alex gently reminded you not to worry, that “We have people for that.”

The “people for that” in the school district do clerical work, manage offices and serve as paraeducators and custodians. If the school district were a human body, the BPEA and its statewide union, the Public School Employees of Washington, would be the liver. I know no one wants to be called “the liver,” but take one out of your body try living without it. You can’t.

There were moments Tuesday, too, when it became clear that there are times these employees feel as unappreciated as a liver. There are contract talks at play now, and not everyone is happy about the direction those are going.

Dean started as a sub, then worked as a clerical assistant and office assistant at Crown Hill Elementary, Magnuson Community School and the district’s business, maintenance and transportation offices. She didn’t drive the buses, (“No way would they get me on a bus with 70 kids behind me,” she said. “That takes a special person.”) but she handled transportation issues in the office so a bus driver could focus on driving a route.

“I have grandkids,” Dean said when asked why she’s retiring. “It’s time for a change.”

Change is something she has seen over 24 years. One thing she mentions is how parents are much less willing to accept responsibility for what their children do now than when she started working in the district. Before, a child acting up in class would lament that the “worst thing was Mom and Dad were going to know and they would do something.” She also said all the technology available has made us all less willing to look at each other and say, “Hi.” That, she said, will prove difficult for today’s kids. “I understand it’s great, but we need to communicate.”

My recollections from my years in school were that some of the classified employees we met were among our favorite personalities. Olie was the custodian at my elementary school and Bernie served that role in high school.

Even if we didn’t know them directly, they certainly had an impact. When I tried to ditch school it wasn’t a teacher I tried to trick into believing I was my dad. I went to school that day at the gentle prodding of a nice woman whose name I no longer recall. Nonetheless, she had as much to do with my education experience as some of the teachers. I just didn’t know it or appreciate it at the time. So many important things were done for us students, things we never had to notice because the school district made sure we had “people for that.”