I am a retired Lake Washington School District (LWSD) high school Spanish teacher. The school district always claims to be providing “a world class education,” but it has fallen short of this goal for many years. Districts such as Bellevue and even Seattle have long provided the opportunity for students to become bilingual by offering dual language programs beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through high school. I have seen the results of this first hand and these kids’ language abilities are impressive. There is no way that starting a language in junior high can produce anything like a K-12 experience. In order to truly provide a world-class education, you need to give students this chance.
I am writing this now because this year we have a chance to elect someone who can make a real difference in the LWSD. I am referring to Anita Damjanovic. First of all, she is a very experienced language teacher. She has taught at all levels, from elementary to graduate school. She cares about this aspect of kids’ learning and she will fight hard to get more language into the earlier grades.
Anita is also very concerned about the poorer kids in the district and the difficulties they face regarding access to activities and especially to food. I live in Kirkland and I read the article in the Redmond Reporter about the high percentage of kids in Kirkland who are receiving free and reduced lunch. I must say that I was shocked when I saw figures of 30-35 percent of kids living in poverty in my part of the district. Anita cares greatly about this issue as she grew up poor and education is what enabled her to lift herself up. She wants all kids to have that chance.
As a high school teacher, it is also very important to me that we prepare kids for life, not just for college. So many kids need a different career path but LWSD seems to denigrate other paths and the high schools do not give enough encouragement and help to those who decide that college is not for them. I don’t blame the schools for this, but the policies and the budgets at the district level prevent schools from implementing different course options. I believe that Anita will push to diversify course offerings to make schools more inclusive for all.
I am hoping that people when you take a look at your choices for the Lake Washington School Board, you will keep these priorities in mind and give your vote to Anita Damjanovic.