Don’t underestimate kids.

We have opened 3 new buildings in our district over the last 3 years. A new middle school, a new elementary school, and a new high school STEAM Center. Science, technology, arts, math. Not actual steam like the Titanic.

One of the cool things that happens when a district opens new schools, is people like to come visit. And we love to host and share and show off. So yesterday, we were joined by the Fife City Manager, the Mayor, and a City Council member.

We walked around the building, pointed out features, answered questions, and generally enjoyed the entire event. We decided to pop into a 5th grade teacher’s classroom. The people popping in were the mayor, our superintendent, and yours truly.


The teacher immediately introduced all of us and asked the kids if they had any questions of the mayor. Bear in mind, there was no preparation for this event, and the kids are 11.

Here are a few of the questions they tossed at the mayor.

 “What is happening on 12th St. in Fife, over at the bottom of Fife Heights?”

“How did you feel when you won your first election?  What about the next one?”  

“What kinds of things do you do as mayor?”

Of course the mayor did a fantastic job answering the questions, and one of the things that I really appreciated was that she answered the questions as she would have with adults. Clear answers that the kids understood. The Q/A could have continued for awhile, but we needed to move along.

As we left, I was struck by the visit. Kids are great. Teachers are great. This particular teacher is a complete pro. She has built a classroom environment where 3 visitors come in, kids are not phased, she gives the kids the opportunity to engage as they see fit, and the kids absolutely nail it.

For any who fret about kids, school, teachers, education, civics; yesterday was a solid piece of evidence that we’re in good hands.

As we gathered to end our tour, the council member asked the principal how the city could best support the school. The answer had nothing to do with money. The answer was to continue to be a part of the school’s community, come read to kids, visit classrooms, expose the kids to as many different kinds of people, doing as many different kinds of jobs as we can find.

The kids will become adults, become voters, become teachers, principals, mayors, council members, and today was a step in their young lives into their futures, as citizens.

Author: Jeff Nelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years. jnelson@fifeschools.com twitter.com/jeffnelsonTLI

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