Superintendent's Blog

Steve MarshallHello Hockinson Families!

This is Steve Marshall, your HSD Superintendent. Over the past few months, I have been trying to figure out how to better stay in touch with you. This blog is an attempt to do just that! My intention is to post here regularly to keep our families current with district news items that may not necessarily appear in our quarterly newsletter.

Your time is valuable. So, by taking the time to read about what is going on in the HSD, you are making an important investment in our schools - and great schools don’t just happen. They require a team effort by the entire school community: school employees, students, parents and community members. Thank you being part of the HSD Team! 


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hello HSD!

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend! Let's kick off this week with some positive stories from across the district:

InvestEd comes to the HSD

I am happy to report that HHS and HMS will receive funding through the InvestEd Foundation in 2020-21. This program, formerly the Saul Haas Foundation, provides funds that can be accessed by students-in-need. These funds can be used for everything from eye glasses and bus fare to coats and school supplies – whatever the school approves. 

There are two components to InvestEd:

  1. Funding based on the number of students who qualify for Free & Reduced Lunch benefits (although students do not need to qualify for this to access InvestEd funds).
  2. A matching program in which the Foundation matches any funds raised by the school up to $500. While we are expected to spend 90 percent of our allocated funds (1), we are allowed to roll over all of our matching funds from year to year.

We want every student to have the ability to access educational and extracurricular opportunities. This program helps to make that possible.

Hockinson HS Jazz Band Places 1st at 2020 Clark College Jazz FestivalJazz Band

The HHS Jazz Band captured the top spot for the 10th time in 12 years at the 2020 Clark College Jazz Festival! This year, they finished atop a field of 11 schools, including Lake Oswego HS (2nd Place) and Washougal HS (3rd Place). 

Congratulations to HHS Jazz Band members:

Sydney Henwood, alto sax; Owen Teckenburg, alto sax; Tanner Linton, tenor sax; Parker Bruning, tenor sax; Ethan Hsu, baritone sax; Davis Baker, trumpet; Josh Saeman, trumpet; Gavin Hubler, trumpet; Max Dorotik, trumpet; Caleb Timbreza, trumpet; Kellan Brinkman, trombone; Brandon Berry, trombone; Jonah Charles, trombone; Abby White, trombone; Caden McNair, trombone; Kaisho Barnhill, piano; Austin Weber, bass; and Sawyer Smith, drums.

Hockinson students stand out at Future Business Leaders of America competition

FBLA studentsAnother round of congratulations goes to students that participated at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Regional Competition!

1st Place: Jasmine Shigeno, Kelton Duncan, Pierce Barrett, Brecken Guinn and Jaeden Tedsen

2nd Place: Jack Hoefer, Sydney Dahl and Jacob Maitland

3rd Place: Nolan Chappelle

4th Place: Josh Duvon

The FBLA State Competition takes place in early April.

Nutrition Services Program earns a perfect score!

Our food services program is subject to a comprehensive federal audit every three years. This is an extensive process that covers everything from fiscal reporting and meal service requirements to free & reduced lunch applications. Thanks to the hard work of our district and school staff, the program earned a perfect score. This is quite a distinction and an achievement that’s not a reflection of just a few days or weeks of effort; it is based on our entire program over time.

School Board Appreciation Month

Last month, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation in observance of the 25th Anniversary of School Board Appreciation Month. We formally recognized our Board of Directors at a late January meeting for their dedication to the staff and students of our district. These five leaders volunteer their time and share their expertise for no compensation other than our thanks, of which they are very deserving. Though it’s been said many times, thank you, HSD School Board!


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hello HSD!

I hope everyone is having a great week! I'd like to start off today's blog entry by congratulating the HHS Girls Basketball team for advancing to the next round of the District Tournament by virtue of their dramatic overtime win over Rochester! Good luck tomorrow vs. Washougal, ladies!

1-2-3 Grow & Learn123 Grow and Learn

In 2018-19, the HSD’s WaKids readiness scores of our incoming Kindergartners were some of the lowest in the area. That creates quite a challenge for our Kindergarten teachers as well as for the children themselves. So, the hope is that programs like 1-2-3 Grow and Learn can help our young learners develop their academic and social skills so that their transition to school is a positive one.

Since this once-a-week program’s launch last month, attendance has exceeded expectations! Between kids and caregivers, I would estimate that the Grow and Learn room has been filled with around 30 people. The program, which runs through early June, is made possible by an early learning grant from ESD 112.

Student enrollment

Our district’s enrollment has been increasing in recent months. This is a welcome trend because our enrollment had fallen short of projections during the first few months of the school year. The budgeted student annual-average-full-time-equivalent (AAFTE) for this year is 1,919. However, we started with 1,902 FTE students in September. If we had remained at that level our costs would have exceeded our funding, which is never a good thing.

On our January count day, our student enrollment stood at 1,932 FTE. As it now stands, Hockinson Heights is 9 FTE under budget, Hockinson Middle is 4 FTE over and Hockinson High School is exactly on budget. Unfortunately, these additions have not been uniform across K-12, and in some cases have magnified overages that already existed at certain grades. The bad news is that they will likely remain in that status because we do not expect to add enough students to fund an additional teacher(s) for second semester. However, the good news is that it looks like we will avoid a really bad financial situation. We entered this school year using money from district reserves to contain personnel cuts. Our outlook would have really deteriorated had we gone further in the red.

Grounds team at work

Our grounds team has contributed a new fence to the HHES playground. People have long mused whether fences keep people in or out, but this one primarily keeps students off (of a wall). Our main reason for doing this is student safety, but it doesn't hurt the look of the school's community garden either!

HHES fence project

Fun Days!

The split-rail fence reminded me that this year’s Hockinson Fun Days theme is “Wild West – A Celebration of 150 Years of Hockinson Schools!” If you are planning on joining the Fun Days scene, you will want to circle May 29 & 30 on your calendar.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Light bulbs going on!

Let's get things started with "Eureka!" - a word that has long been used as an exclamation of discovery akin to a light bulb coming on.  

light bulb image

As many of you know, Eureka was the original name for this area. It was also the name of the community's first public school. The residents responsible for establishing that school held their first board meeting precisely 150 years ago! To mark this occasion, we've established this 150 years of HSD web page, which we will continue to add to in the coming weeks and months. Additionally, the district has formed a 150th Anniversary Committee, which consists of past/current employees, community and parent representatives (here's a photo!). This committee is tasked with putting together a celebratory event for the entire community. Stay tuned for more information on that. 

"Eureka!" did not come out of HHS Principal Schoonover's mouth, but he was definitely excited to see all of the lights finally working along the entrance to the high school. Until last week, only a small percentage of them would turn on, posing a safety issue in the evenings. While the original bids to fix this issue were too expensive, our Maintenance/Operations Supervisor, Shaniko Ristau, kept after it. He reached out to a new contractor and to Clark Public Utilities. The result? New LED lights at a low cost to the district!

HHS lights

Shaniko has partnered with Clark Public Utilities in the past on a number of light replacement/energy conservation projects. He is also currently exploring the possibility of installing street lamps at the entrances to all HSD schools. 

What's going on at the HSD Warehouse and old Middle School site?

While on the topic of efficient operations, there have been a few questions about what our grounds and maintenance employees are up to at the former Middle School building and the HSD Warehouse (behind the new middle school). Here's the answer: When they're not pruning or doing other seasonal work outside, the maintenance crew has been turning their focus inside and following a "5 S" program to clean and organize both sites. Now that probably leads to another question: "What is 5 S?" 5 S is a system for organizing spaces so that work can be performed efficiently and safely. It applies the old idea of putting everything in its place and keeping the workplace clean, which makes it easier for people to do their jobs without wasting time or risking injury.

grounds crew

The five S's are: 1. Sort (throw away, surplus or keep); 2. Set in place (according to frequency of use); 3. Standardize (standard operating procedures and visual reminders like floor markers and labels on shelves); 4. Shine (a commitment to keeping things clean); and 5. Sustain (keep it going).   Additionally, they are repairing our equipment in-house to save on repair costs and get prepared for spring.  

Learn about a teacher: Leslie Pershall

Leslie PershallThis interviewee emphasizes 5 Rs in her classroom: Relevance, Relationships, Responsible decision-making, Respect and ca-Reer preparation. Okay, I obviously had to stretch things on that final one, but I wanted to recognize HHS health teacher Leslie Pershall's willingness to pursue Career Technical Education (CTE) certification on top of her master's program to create the foundation of a Health Sciences pathway for our students. 

After interviewing Leslie, I realize that many of you are already familiar with her and her family. However, there is always something to learn...

Job: Health teacher at Hockinson High School

Worked in the HSD since: 2015, but she has been in our district for a few decades as a former K-12 student and 2010 graduate of HHS. Upon earning her Teaching Certificate, Leslie was encouraged to look for job openings in the district. She did exactly that, applied for an open position and got it! She has loved her job ever since. 

Noteworthy: Unlike many teachers, Leslie's parents did not work in education. She was influenced by a number of elementary teachers including Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Fern, Mrs. Dodson, and Mrs. Hedman.  

Family: Leslie has four brothers (three older and one younger). She credits them with imparting on her a couple of prominent life lessons: Be yourself no matter what, and be straightforward. Leslie also shared that playing games as the "5th brother" helped her to develop a competitive attitude as well as a thick skin. The summer of 2015 was a busy one for Leslie: In addition to marrying her husband, she also graduated from college and got a job. The Pershalls have one son, Grant. He is nine months old and full of Pershall spunk!

Hobbies: Leslie and her husband like to hike in the Columbia River Gorge. If she had to choose, her favorite hike is Wind Mountain (Washington side). She also likes to kayak in Round Lake or Lacamas Lake - not necessarily for the water quality, but more for the convenience.

Talents: Leslie knows how to golf and her favorite local course is Camas Meadows. She honed her skills as a golfer at HHS and participated in the state golf tournament. She is not quite sure she has musical talent, but she loves to sing, especially 80s and 90s songs. Leslie and her husband have been known to karaoke. 

Leslie also has a hidden talent: She has a knack for catching fruit snacks in her mouth. It has been documented that she can handle both trick shots and long-distance passes. I looked on YouTube and could not confirm her claim that she caught a fruit snack that was thrown from a distance of 71 feet!

What she loves about the HSD: Leslie looks back on her 13 years as a Hockinson student with fondness. She feels the same about her 4.5 years of teaching in the HSD. In particular, Leslie enjoys working with Hockinson students. She thinks they are different - in a good way. As members of a small campus, she likes that HHS students are involved in many different activities and have the opportunity to develop their talents.

Leslie believes in the power of relationships. She has found that it makes her job easier and more fulfilling when she connects with each student as a person, so she does her best to show her support at plays, games and other student activities.

She views teaching as more of a lifestyle than a job. On many occasions, she feels more like a coach and a mom than a teacher - and she is cool with that!

A dedicated teacher makes all the difference. Our district is so fortunate to have teachers like Leslie demonstrating an amazing commitment to our students everyday. 

Thank you for reading! Be sure to visit this page again soon for new entries. -- Steve Marshall