Schools prepare for children of Passage Point residents

February 22, 2011

With the YWCA’s Passage Point scheduled to open in June, its neighbors in the southern part of the Issaquah School District are working to learn as much as they can about the facility before its inaugural day.

About 10 people came to the YWCA Passage Point Community Open House Feb. 9 at Maple Hills Elementary School, some carrying lists of questions they could ask YWCA representatives, King County project managers and school district administrators.

YWCA Case Manager Miesha Phillips (left) answers questions from Deena Rataezyk, Debra Hawkins and Joanna Hodgson at the Passage Point community open house. By Laura Geggel

Passage Point allows the YWCA to provide housing for men and women recently released from incarceration who wish to reunite with their children. The residents of Passage Point will have access to housing, employment and counseling services.

“It’s going to be geared toward a certain population that wants to change,” YWCA Case Manager Miesha Phillips said.

She and other administrators answered questions about Passage Point’s rules and services.

Deena Rataezyk learned that any Passage Point residents who register to volunteer with the district will have to go through a standard Washington State Patrol background check.

Nick LaCaze asked if teachers were ready to teach children living at Passage Point, given that some of them might need extra support at school, and Rataezyk asked if the schools would have additional mental health resources.

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Steve Birdsall, beloved Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 22, 2011

Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Feb. 18 after an illness. He was 52.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents the day he died.

Steve Birdsall, Maple Hills Elementary fifth-grade teacher, in June 2010 prepared for medical leave after a 23-year career in the Issaquah School District — 22 of those years spent at Maple Hills. By Greg Farrar

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

In an interview with The Issaquah Press in June, Birdsall said he participated in clinical studies for the disease in hopes that a better treatment would be available to future MSA patients.

Beane recalled how Birdsall introduced himself and continued working despite his illness when she started working at Maple Hills in 2007.

“He was good to me, as a first year principal,” she said. “He was honest. He would send me e-mails if I made a good decision and send me e-mails if he thought I needed to think about something. He helped me grow as a professional.”

Birdsall was married to Polly Vaughn and had two teenage children, Madison and Kellen Birdsall.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Steve Birdsall, former Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 18, 2011

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 2011

Former Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Friday after an illness.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents.

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

Read more

YWCA hosts Passage Point open house

February 1, 2011

In preparation for the opening of the Passage Point housing project this summer, the YWCA is holding a community open house from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 9 at Maple Hills Elementary School, 15644 204th Ave. S.E., Renton.

Passage Point allows the YWCA to provide housing for men and women recently released from incarceration or hospitalization who wish to reunite with their children. The residents of Passage Point will have access to housing, employment and counseling services.

The open house will feature YWCA staff knowledgeable about Passage Point, employment, mental health services, children’s services and Family Village Issaquah, a YWCA permanent housing facility opening this fall.

Issaquah teachers earn national certification

January 11, 2011

After hundreds of hours of self-reflection, videotaping their classes and studying for subject tests, 31 teachers in the Issaquah School District have earned their National Board Certification.

This brings the total number of district board certified teachers to 81. Read more

Maple Hills, Sunset elementary schools plan to install new heaters

December 14, 2010

Two Issaquah School District schools are slated to receive new heaters this winter break: Maple Hills and Sunset elementary schools.

Maple Hills’ heaters are as old as the school, which was built in unincorporated King County near Renton in 1969. All of the heaters are gas operated, and earlier this year, staff and students reported smelling gas in the 300 wing and music room, according to an e-mail from Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane.

The district’s capital projects and facilities services worked together to locate a heater with a crack in it, district Chief of Finance and Operations Jake Kuper said.

The leak “wasn’t a lot of gas, but it doesn’t take a lot of gas to have a smell,” Kuper said. Read more

Shooting temporarily shuts down Maple Hills Elementary School camp

October 8, 2010

NEW — 1:45 p.m. Oct. 8, 2010

Maple Hills Elementary School’s fifth-grade students stayed indoors Friday morning at the request of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The fifth-graders were staying at Camp Coleman in Longbranch, located south of Bremerton, Thursday and Friday for the annual fifth-grade outdoor science camp.

A shooting happened about five miles away from the camp the Thursday evening. The suspects fled in the opposite direction of the camp, but, “it’s good they were made aware of it and paid attention to it,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ed Troyer said.

As a precaution, the sheriff’s office asked the camp director to move all activities indoors while authorities assessed the situation. Before noon, campers were allowed to resume their normal, outdoor activities.

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Girl Scouts host open houses

September 7, 2010

Local Girl Scout troops are hosting informational meetings or open houses. Learn more by calling 641-1126. Middle and high school troops are welcoming new girls as well. All events are from 7-8 p.m.

Information meetings (all take place in school multipurpose rooms)

-Newcastle Elementary — Sept. 23

-Clark and Issaquah Valley elementary — Sept. 27, Clark multipurpose room

-Apollo Elementary — Sept. 28

-Cougar Ridge and Sunset elementary — Sept. 29, Cougar Ridge multipurpose room

-Briarwood and Maple Hills elementary — Sept. 30, Briarwood multipurpose room Read more

Rural residents raise concerns about public safety cutbacks

August 3, 2010

County Executive Dow Constantine trekked east to Hobart — and into the sometimes-tenuous relationship between county government and rural King County residents — for a forum last week.

Constantine said unincorporated-area and rural residents stand to bear the brunt of looming cuts to county services, including King County Sheriff’s Office deputy layoffs and cutbacks to the county court system.

Contributed King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) addresses rural residents and the presidents of the six unincorporated area councils, including Four Creeks leader Tom Carpenter (far right), at a July 26 forum.

“There is significant disconnect between the cost of doing business and the dollars available,” he said during the July 26 meeting at Hobart Community Church. “We’re scrounging and scrapping to find ways to protect the quality of life for 2 million people in this county.”

Inside the overheated church, Constantine heard from leaders of the six unincorporated area councils — citizen groups elected by residents in regions as disparate as Vashon Island and rural Maple Valley. The unincorporated county is home to about 340,000 of the 1.9 million county residents.

The group includes Four Creeks, home to about 14,000 residents in a swath stretched between Issaquah and Renton. The area encompasses Maple Hills, May Valley, Mirrormont and other communities south of Issaquah city limits.

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Never-say-quit teacher leaves a final lesson

June 15, 2010

Degenerative disease cuts short beloved teacher’s career

At right, Steve Birdsall (left), Maple Hills Elementary fifth-grade teacher, keeps his students in line for a trip outside for their end-of-year class photo and video. By Greg Farrar

If you ask anyone at Maple Hills Elementary School who Steve Birdsall is, they’ll know just whom you’re talking about.

Quick to smile, always armed with a sense of humor, a tireless advocate for children’s education and the “best teacher ever,” students and faculty say. Read more

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