Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Superintendent Chris Reykdal co-taught a lesson with Brigitte Tennis at Stella Schola Middle School on April 25.
Reykdal, born and raised in Snohomish, is one of eight children. After attending Washington State University and graduating summa cum laude with degrees in social studies, political science, geology and education, he taught history for three years and then served on the school board. Reykdal was elected as a member of the state representative, representing the 22nd Legislative District and was elected as the state superintendent of public instruction in 2016.
Eighth-graders at Stella Schola hosted Reykdal and participated in the Aquarium Challenge.
“You have a fresh water aquarium and we want you to fill it with beautiful fish,” Tennis told the students.
Reykdal then continued with the specifications of the assignment, which included staying within a budget, calculating taxes, attending to the water-fish length ratio and considering any special needs, which the fish had.
“[We] then we had to write a persuasive letter to Superintendent Reykdal convincing him that we had followed all the rules and that our aquarium selections were the best,” student Drew Fialho said in the release.
Students got busy discussing options and what fish would make the aquarium the most aesthetically pleasing, then Reykdal handed out fish to each group once their selections had been made. Some students chose to color their fish and aquarium, and one group added nylon fabric to the top of the aquarium so the Hatchetfish could not jump out, the release states.
“I really like that students have to calculate the sales tax,” Reykdal said in the release.
He continued by explaining to the students that the state spends about $200,000 on each of them throughout their 12 years of education. According to the release, student Anisha Hayes nodded as the Reykdal continued, saying that they ought to immerse themselves in every moment of their education and then “pay it back to the next generation,” by paying taxes when they are grownups.
The winning team selected fish that fell only $0.18 under budget and used exactly 33 inches of fish in a 33-gallon tank. Their reward was edible Swedish Fish.
“The students really enjoyed Superintendent Reykdal and said he had a great sense of humor,” Tennis said in the release.
When asked why she invited Reykdal to her classroom, Tennis said in the release, “there are great things happening in public education, and the students are excited to see that adults want to see their work and recognize their learning.”
According to the release, Tennis has been building relationships with legislators and community members for many years. Experiences such as co-teaching with a master teacher allow legislators to experience the role of a teacher as an instructor and facilitator of learning in the diverse classrooms of today, the release states.