Helping lead the push for early childhood development, Perigee Fund makes home on E Pike

(Image: Perigee Fund)

There’s something new on your walk down E Pike that is not a restaurant or bar. And the work inside — with a view of all the good and the bad of the city streets of Pike/Pine — is helping advocates fight for more resources for early child development.

Executive director Becca Graves calls it upstream mental health.

“You can’t get more upstream than working prenatally,” she said.

The offices of the Perigee Fund are now resident on the street level of the auto row-era Greenus Building. The space formerly home to an upscale furniture store and interior boutique is now being used to plan a national philanthropic effort launched in 2018 to help advance work related to early childhood mental health and perinatal mental health. Continue reading

After falling short in run for City Council, Zachary DeWolf still has plans for the school board (plus, a children’s book)

The evening after this summer’s primary election for City Council, at a public forum on the appointment of a new representative on the Seattle School Board for South Seattle, it was back to business for Zachary DeWolf.

The Primary candidate and Seattle School Board representative hadn’t given himself much time to think about the results, which were disappointing. He received 12.54% of the votes on election night, not enough to make it onto the November ballot.

“I probably didn’t get enough time to really kind of sit down with the whole experience of it,” DeWolf says today. “By and large, I can say I’m really grateful to have done it. There’s probably a whole list of 10 or 15 things I could do differently, (…) strategy stuff.”

DeWolf had announced he was running for City Council in April, a little over a year into his four-year term on the school board. Though he chiseled away a substantial chunk of labor support from Sawant’s base and was seen as one of the frontrunners, the Seattle Education Association (the city’s public school teachers union) endorsed Ami Nguyen and Kshama Sawant in District 3. It also didn’t help that local blogger and education advocate Melissa Westbrook wrote a searing editorial dis-endorsing DeWolf on Seattle Schools Community Forum, calling out his “lackluster record and lack of community meetings.”

In a recent phone call, DeWolf didn’t really feel like revisiting the issue.

“I’m not going to respond to a blogger [who] clearly doesn’t understand my work and my record,” DeWolf said. “What this comes down to is who I serve: the students and the families in my district.”

DeWolf brought up the example of the student Luna, a trans student who had asked that Seattle Public Schools fix its databases so that all correctly identified the gender and names of trans and gender-diverse students. DeWolf said the issue is now fixed because of her advocacy and his pushing for it. Continue reading

Tentative agreement on new contract for Seattle teachers

(Image: SEA)

The Seattle Education Association, the union representing around 6,000 teachers and educators in the Seattle Public School system announced over the weekend it has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

In its latest bargaining update, the SEA team said it was moving toward a tentative agreement focused around racial equity and fair compensation.

SPS, In its most recent bargaining update, meanwhile, called educator salary increases “important” but any increase “must be balanced with spending within our means.” Continue reading

New Seattle School for Boys private middle school opening in the Central District

Seattle School for Boys will open near 23rd and Madison for the 2019-2020 school year, bringing an all-boys private middle school option to the Central District.

“I started my career teaching at an all boys school on the East Coast, and after seeing the impact a single gender environment has on the boys, it made sense for there to be an all-boys middle school in Seattle,” said Nick Creach, head of Seattle School for Boys.

Creach left his position as head of Seattle Academy’s middle school to teach and serve as the head of Seattle School for Boys. Creach co-founded SSB with fellow teacher Jerome Hunter, and Drew Markham who will serve as the school’s board chair.

The partnership behind the school believes fulfilling the need for an all boys middle school option in the Central District was necessary after exploring research on differences in learning and identity development between the sexes in the middle school years.  Continue reading

‘We don’t want to do that’ — Following rare strike in 2015, Seattle Schools, teachers work on new deal

A 2015 picket outside Garfield High during the first Seattle teachers strike in 30 years (Image: CHS)

With just two weeks before students are set to arrive, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) are still hashing out details of a new contract for the more than 3,200 educators in the district.

“I know that for many of us we are feeling the crunch of time now,” Laura Lehni, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Washington Middle School, said.

While strides have been made on student safety, race and equity concerns, and the size of school nursing staffs, the discussion regarding compensation for educators has moved slowly. Both sides desperately want to avoid the heightened tensions that led to a five-day strike in 2015.

“We don’t want to do that, but we also need a competitive professional wage,” SEA president Phyllis Campano said. Continue reading

Now a teen, Children’s Film Festival Seattle celebrates all-ages cinema on 12th Ave

While we’re talking about a new kid-friendly hangout added to Capitol Hill, let’s talk about one of the neighborhood’s greatest ongoing kid events. The Children’s Film Festival Seattle returns to the Northwest Film Forum later this month. Like most things child-oriented in Seattle, parents need to get on the ball early to make sure their wee ones have spots at the pancake table:

The family-friendly extravaganza celebrates the best and brightest in international cinema that is age-appropriate for ages 2-14, and will include 168 films from 55 nations, spanning the globe from North to South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The festival includes animation and live-action shorts, features, and hands-on filmmaking workshops, all crafted with care to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

This year’s festival runs January 25th to February 10th with screenings at NWFF’s 12th Ave theater following an opening night party at the Egyptian.

Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2018

“We want children to come to the festival not only to be entertained by funny and fantastic films, but also to discover common ground, to build empathy and envision their places in the wider world,” director Elizabeth Shepherd said in this year’s announcement of the 13th year for the film fest. Continue reading

The most pressing issues for Seattle Public Schools in 2018: ethnic studies, superintendent search, and, yes, money

With two up for grabs vacant positions on the Seattle School Board filled following November’s election, new leadership at Seattle Public Schools is gearing up for a jam-packed 2018 with contentious issues such as contract negotiations with the teacher’s union.

“It’s never a dull moment [in Seattle public school news],” said Melissa Westbrook, a longtime watchdog of Seattle schools who blogs regularly at Seattle Public Schools Community Blog. “It’s become much more political and it’s become much larger than one district.”

Funding and teacher union contract bargaining: An overarching issue for Seattle public schools in recent years has been a lack of adequate funding: In 2012, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state wasn’t spending enough money to fully fund k-12 public schools across Washington and was forcing school district to rely on local property tax levies—otherwise known as the McCleary order. As a result, local levies and Parent Teacher Association fundraising have long tried to fill the funding gap, and the union representing Seattle Teachers, the Washington Education Association, went on strike demanding higher wages and other investments during the 2015 contract negotiations.

While the state legislature passed a tax and spend plan last legislative session that uses a statewide property tax to fund education, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the state needed to speed up its funding allocation to meet their imposed September 2018 deadline. (In response, Governor Jay Inslee announced that he will tap state reserves and seek to impose a carbon tax to appease the ruling.)

However, the new spending plan creates its own issues for the district, according to Westbrook. “One of the pressing issues is how much money are they actually going to get from state … all the districts have been complaining about how they are lowering their ability to access local levy money, and that may offset the state gains,” she said.

Jesse Hagopian, a social studies teacher at Garfield High School in the Central District and longtime progressive education activist, said that while the union hasn’t set their bargaining priorities for the upcoming contract negotiations, that wage increases for teachers and other staff (such as counselors) will surely be on the table. “All of these people, [including] our lunch staff, are underpaid and have an extremely hard time making ends meet in this city,” he said. “I would hope that the union’s ready for an all out struggle for a living wage for teachers.” Continue reading

Next for E Olive Way restaurant space: International Montessori Academy

One of the more rapidly blighted empty spaces on Capitol Hill will spring back to life in 2018. The little ones who will put it to use every day will say more about Capitol Hill Station and the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown than this stretch of Capitol Hill’s nightlife growth or a new highly anticipated industry coming to the street.

The International Montessori Academy, a Bellevue-based provider of Mandarin Chinese, French, or Spanish language immersion and Montessori education for elementary school-age children, is set to begin construction to overhaul the former home of the giant Zhu Dang restaurant on E Olive Way, shuttered since late November 2015. Before its life as a restaurant, the short-lived The Social nightclub venture overhauled the building as a dance club and restaurant.

“It’s close to downtown with very easy access and there are lots of families on North Capitol Hill,” school founder Yimin Chen tells CHS about the next big project coming to E Olive Way. “People live there, people work there.”

In addition to overhauling the building to serve as a school, the academy is a major investment. A company owned by Chen purchased the 1928-built property for $4.8 million over the summer. The seller was the family behind Zhu Dang — they had paid more than $3.3 million for it in 2013. Continue reading

KUOW: District didn’t want us to visit this struggling Seattle school… on Capitol Hill

E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary (Image: CHS)

Everybody — including CHS — focused on the drama around the Lowell Elementary S Path was missing a larger, more pressing need for many students at the Capitol Hill elementary school: a place in the city to call home.

In a moving and frustrating report, KUOW documents the school’s astounding 20% homelessness rate for students and the reportedly shaky educational environment the budget-strapped school district has in place for the kids:

Lowell Elementary School sits across from million-dollar houses on a quiet street in Capitol Hill. But this school serves some of the poorest children in the city.

The percentage of homeless students in Seattle Public Schools has doubled in the past five years. As of spring, 7 percent of the student population lacked a permanent address. That number is much smaller at some schools, and much larger in others.

At Lowell, 20 percent of students were homeless at last count.

Continue reading

Madison Valley’s latest salon specializes in picking bugs out of your hair

Looking for another reason to ban children from Capitol Hill? Here is the slightly geographically challenged announcement of new Seattle “lice salon” Hair Fairies:

Seattle’s upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, with its swanky shops, parks and cafés, might seem like a strange place for a head lice treatment salon to set up shop. But there’s Hair Fairies, nestled between a Tuscan restaurant and a French bistro on E Madison Ave, and CEO Maria Botham thinks it’s perfect. “We aren’t just any old lice clinic, we pride ourselves on being a destination for parents and kids to feel comfortable, and release some of the stigma associated with lice. Everyone can get lice – it doesn’t discriminate – and we strive to create a space that is accepting and welcoming to everyone.”

Located at 2810 E Madison, the salon gets done pretty much what you’d expect from a lice salon. But the local location for the national chain of around a dozen salons says its methods fit in with “natural” Seattle.

“We understand the importance of ‘natural’ within the Seattle culture. We use our all-natural, plant-based products to eliminate your head lice — 100% guaranteed — with no at-home combing required. Or, if you prefer to DIY, we can teach you to tackle the pesky pests yourself,” the description reads.

Besides, chemicals won’t necessarily rid your kid — and you and your kid’s friends and your friends and grandma — of lice. The bugs are doing what good bugs do — becoming increasingly resistant to the most widely used treatments.

Company founder Maria Botham tells CHS the demand for her service really knows no season — though trends do seem to cleve closely to the school year and things like summer camp season. She says moms and dads vary by market but that her West Coast locations definitely illustrate a DIY trend for parents.

“In San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, they roll up their sleeves,” Botham said of parents fighting the bugs. If that effort can’t get the job done, Botham says, that is where Hair Fairies can help.

The service isn’t cheap. The sometimes hours-long procedures run around $105 per hour.

Got an itch? You can learn more at hairfairies.com.