Issaquah schools get creative to bolster ‘culture of kindness’ ideals

August 26, 2014

Kym Clayton has a child who struggles with social skills and speech delays, and in her quest to find help, she stumbled across an idea from a suburban school in Pennsylvania.

By Neil Pierson In June, Sunny Hills Elementary School received its new Buddy Bench, a place for students to confront their emotions and make new friends. Pictured in the front row are Sunny Hills student Evan Baker, and Beaver Lake students Alejandro Calderon and Jade Griffiths. In the back row are Beaver Lake teacher Patrick Ford, Sunny Hills Principal Leslie Lederman and Sunny Hills PTSA President Kym Clayton.

By Neil Pierson
In June, Sunny Hills Elementary School received its new Buddy Bench, a place for students to confront their emotions and make new friends. Pictured in the front row are Sunny Hills student Evan Baker, and Beaver Lake students Alejandro Calderon and Jade Griffiths. In the back row are Beaver Lake teacher Patrick Ford, Sunny Hills Principal Leslie Lederman and Sunny Hills PTSA President Kym Clayton.

Christian Bucks, a student at Roundtown Elementary School in York, Pa., invented a simple but effective way of helping children who were feeling sad or lonely. His Buddy Bench concept — a bench where kids can sit when they’re in need of a friend — has spread like wildfire in less than a year, reaching schools around the world.

Clayton believed the Buddy Bench might be a useful tool at Sunny Hills Elementary School, where she was PTSA president during the 2013-14 school year.

But simply going to a local hardware store and building a bench wasn’t what she had in mind.

“I think it would be really neat to be full circle, that kids are building this bench for other kids,” she explained. Read more

Students to have new outlet for reporting concerns at school

September 10, 2013

Students aren’t always comfortable reporting the problems they’re facing at school, so administrators in the Issaquah School District are trying something new to get them talking.

By the end of September, the district’s five middle schools and four high schools plan to implement Talk About It, a Web-based communications tool that will allow students to post comments while remaining anonymous.

Sena Camarata, assistant principal at Skyline High School, said the program should foster an environment where “students have a voice that they can share with administrators in their building if they have concerns about what’s going on at their school.”

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