Academy Schools Students Go Underground

By Laura Arntzen

Going Underground

On Friday, January 19th, the 2nd-5th grade students had the opportunity to take the Link light rail to Seattle to attend a field trip to the Seattle Underground Tour. There they got to explore the relics and building remnants from the early 1900’s and learn in depth about the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and how the devastation spurred the building of an entirely new city raised above sea level.

Once the group emerged to street level, they walked ten blocks to the Pike Place Market and had their lunches. After lunch, our group scoured the Market in search of some exotic produce to purchase.

Gum Wall

On the way out of the Market we paid a visit to the Gum Wall located in Post Alley.

Their teachers surprised them with a final stop for gelato before they boarded the light rail back to school. It was a great experience for all!

Music To Their Ears

Lower School made the glass-bottle-and-water xylophone in music last week… music magic!



Rising Stars

Sunset over the Pacific

This past month, Academy Schools’ very talented music teacher and professional musician, Wes Weddell, was selected for a second time to participate in a special singer songwriter retreat through Willapa Bay AiR. Academy Schools is fortunate to have highly gifted faculty members bring their creative talents to our students.

Clamming in Willapa Bay-It’s not all about the music!

And, if you don’t believe me…read this!

In the artist’s own words: “Balancing the writing and performing pieces of my career with the teaching has its challenges, chief among them the limited number of hours in each day. Getting the chance to disappear into coastal isolation and write was a true delight, and I’m grateful for the support from all of my ‘clients’ that made it happen. I got two-and-a-half new songs out of it!”

Wes is an active member/artist of The Bushwick Book Club Seattle, along with Executive Director – and after school music teacher extraordinaire, Geoff Larson… Keep an eye on this group as their stardom rises in the Seattle sky!



Future Farmers of America…

Middle School students recently took a field trip to Carnation Farms so they could experience firsthand what farming looks like and how much the process has developed since the days of our ancestors.

Students were able to sample food from the garden, pick a pumpkin to take home, meet several chickens, and even go on a tractor ride!  We all had a blast.

Report by: Mr. Tower

A Message from Grant

A message from Grant…which says it all!

The Essential Field Trip

With several field trips on the Academy Schools calendar this month, it is a reminder of the known and unknown value these adventures bring to the students. One member of academia relates, “Field trips provide students with a window to the real world that they don’t get in the classroom, and they can help students understand real-world applications of seemingly abstract topics in math and science.” ~ Jason Koebler

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~ Cynthia Occelli

Hello world! The students of Academy Schools are out and about!




Strategies for Success

From the Autism Parent Support Group of Kennewick and our own Mrs. Lawrence, Academy Schools is pleased to share the following:

Working with families and educators for over two decades has taught me some important lessons about what it means to provide meaningful intervention to students with autism spectrum disorder. It is easy to get caught up in the moment-to-moment challenges and lose perspective on what we are trying to accomplish. Too often we employ strategies that address an immediate problem, without figuring out how to address the challenges over the long-term.

Here are some important concepts every parent and educator should consider when working with children with autism:

Allow for Processing. Autism at it’s core is an information processing disorder. This impacts a person’s ability to take in, make sense of, and respond to information.  It is essential to remember the importance of slowing down in order to speed up!  When we give a child time to process directions, demands, questions, etc., we can help support their learning and improve their overall processing.

Behavior is Communication.  Behavior of a child with autism can make little sense to us at times and can even appear irrational. However,  ALL behavior is rational if we can see the world from the child’s eyes.  When we listen, observe, and investigate in order to understand the function of the behavior, we can make sense of it and see the world the way the child does. Be careful not to make the mistake of jumping in to change the behavior before understanding it.

Relationships are Essential.   We learn and grow through our relationships with others. Behavioral and emotional self-regulation begins with being able to regulate with others.  This is just as important, if not more important to their future success. Children with autism need to not just learn about social skills, but have opportunities to apply them and experiences to reflect on and learn from.

Communication is a Powerful Tool.  Speaking and communicating are two very different things. The ways in which we use verbal and nonverbal communication has a significant impact on our students’ communication development and thinking.  We need to work on reducing demands (questions, direct prompts, requests, etc.) and communicate more in an inviting manner by increasing our nonverbal communication, sharing our experiences, and using primarily indirect mindful prompts. Making this change will help promote dynamic thinking, problem solving, and reduce the likelihood of an oppositional response.

Promoting Thinking, and Problem Solving.  The most important outcome of the learning process is to teach students to think. We need to create daily opportunities for students to think about and flexibly respond to what is happening around them.  Many people unknowingly overcompensate for the child with autism by doing the thinking for them.  We must slow down and allow kids to appraise, process, and focus more on the problems and less on the solutions.

Look for Obstacles.  Everyone has obstacles and challenges that impact their ability to function at their best. The responsibility for identifying and resolving behavior obstacles and challenges lies much more with adults than it does with children. When a child is acting out, behaving inappropriately or not as expected, it is tempting to blame the child.  Often people expect the child to meet their expectations instead of changing their expectations to match the child.  Instead ask yourself based on the child’s sensory, cognitive, social, and emotional vulnerabilities, could the expectations and demands be changed to better match the child’s current skills? Are there accommodations and modifications that can be made? Even the smallest thing can be a demand for a child.

Families as Partners.  Parents are the primary players in the growth and development of their children. Professionals and families must be more than a team for the purpose of completing required paperwork. A working relationship based on trust and mutual respect is required for students to reach their highest potential.

Teaching or raising a child with autism while rewarding, is not an easy task. I hope these concepts and strategies help the back to school transition be a successful one.  If you are in need of more guidance, support or training, give us a call, we are here to help!

Your Annual Fund Dollars at Work!

Just this month, faculty members from Academy Schools have been ‘out and about’, attending conferences and workshops.

An article on states, “The National Staff Development Council (2007) created a set of nine standards that all professional development should follow. They include content knowledge and quality teaching, research-basis, collaboration, diverse learning needs, student learning environments, family involvement, evaluation, data-driven design, and teacher learning.”

Above and beyond the Clock Hours needed to keep teaching certificates current and meet state requirements, professional development is vital, providing teachers with support and knowledge to promote student motivation and understanding, to implement learning standards across the curriculum, and to introduce new strategies and ideas to engage all learners. Academy Schools is committed in supporting and empowering its teachers with opportunities to grow professionally and personally.

Here are just some of the books our teachers are reading this summer…

UDL Now!: A Teacher’s Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning in Today’s Classrooms by Katie Novak

Belonging and Becoming: The Power of Social and Emotional Learning in High Schools by Barbara Cervone

Asperger Syndrome and the Elementary School Experience: Practical Solutions for Academic & Social Difficulties by Susan Thompson Moore

While students are unwinding and enjoying their summer routines, members of Academy Schools’ teaching team are busy! Ms. Dunne recently spent two days in Tacoma attending workshops on The Daily 5, a well-regarded framework that supports literacy and aids students in developing life habits in reading and writing. Also in this series was an intensive introduction to The Literacy CAFÉ System, a strategic program that promotes the core components for successful reading. To top it off, there was a math component.

Mrs. Maria, Mrs. Arntzen and Ms. St. John spent a week at the Staff Development for Educators (SDE) National Conference where they were immersed in research-based approaches to student-centered environments, practical applications for learning, as well as the science of learning, with a whole lot of social, emotional and cognitive development added in. The outcome from these five days of intensive professional development will strengthen all areas of learning in Lower School, and throughout the entire school, as they share what they have learned during valuable staff meetings.

The important point to make is that Academy Schools couldn’t provide this essential support of our teachers without your Annual Fund contributions. Thank you for making these outreach opportunities possible! We’ll report on more about teachers as learners in the weeks ahead!

Jump for Joy – It’s June!

From Mrs. Artnzen’s classroom

Hello Parents,

We are in the home stretch! We only have a couple days left of school! This has been an amazing school year filled with so many great moments!! More than I could even list! With this last days of school, we will be completing final assessments, participating in spiral review of concepts learned and playing some fun games connected to skills and concepts attained throughout the school year. This has been an incredible year and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach your little ones. ~Mrs. Arntzen


·         Money

·         Measurement using simple and standard tools

·         Telling time on a digital and analog clock

·         Double digit addition and subtraction


·         Silent Consonants

·         Spiral Review


·         Two-syllable words          

·         Compound Words

·         Conjunctions (or, and)



Your children have definitely increased their reading stamina and almost all of the students are choosing chapter books to read.  Fluency, comprehension and reading levels have increased for all and I am very excited to see where the next levels will take them in their reading journey. The Magic Treehouse series is a favorite in our class!

Seattle Aquarium


We recently took a trip to the Seattle Aquarium where the children got to see first-hand some of the things that we have been talking about in class. They had a great time and there was even enough time to head to Alki where they quickly rolled up their pant legs and explored the low tide!

Social Studies

We are wrapping up the last few pages of our map books and I have been excited to see that your children have learned to use a map key, a compass rose and are quickly learning to read directions when it comes to maps.

Alki Exploration


Rockin’ the Stage


On the stage at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival

Academy Schools’ very own music teacher, Wes Waddell, performed on the Green Stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival over Memorial Day Weekend. Those who were lucky to see him said “he’ a great performer!” Yes, indeed. Mr. Waddell is the music man! And Academy Schools is so fortunate to have Mr. Waddell, a valued member of the Bushwick Book Club of Seattle, as music teacher extraordinaire!