Ridgefield Teachers Overcome Challenges to Teach Online

When classes went fully online in March, teachers had to adapt their lesson plans and classroom ideas.  But how do you teach a class that is almost entirely hands on, like PE, shop, or band?  Some Ridgefield teachers found creative ways to make online learning work for their students.

Physical Education

Physical education classes had to leave the gyms, equipment, and fields behind at the school.  How can you keep a class full of students in motion when you are all miles apart?  Ridgefield High School PE teachers use PLT4M, a program to track students’ workouts, progress, and fitness test achievements from a desktop or smartphone.

Teacher Ted Beyer explained, “Our general PE classes are using very fitness-oriented programs requiring only equipment that students can create using their backpacks, water jugs, broomsticks, etc.”  The shift to a more flexible concept of sports equipment and workouts means students have been able to stay fit even from home.

From the PLT4M program, you can see videos, track activities and more.

Wood and Metal Shop

Most students’ homes don’t have the specialized tools for shop class, like table saws and welding equipment.  So high school shop teacher Chris Shipp moved as much of his class as he could into online experiences—even the woodworking and metalworking projects.

Shipp decided to go alone to the high school shop and make every project himself, filming each step from start to finish for his students.  “I walked them through all the projects,” he explained, “doing demonstrations on what a student would have gone through if they were doing the work themselves.”  While it’s not quite the same as being there in person, Shipp’s students now have the training to jump right in when they get back to the shop floor.

Ridgefield High School shop teacher Chris Shipp made each class project, step by step, for his students, including this Texas Star.


Hearing and seeing students play music is an important part of band class, but it’s difficult to do on Zoom.  Fortunately, band teacher Stephanie Bloom was up for the challenge.

Her experienced band students adjusted quickly, but for brand new band students, Bloom had to teach them how to play their instruments via Zoom.  She patiently demonstrated each instrument and song in class, then asked students to video themselves playing.  “I spent a lot of time watching videos—which meant I might have to hear Hot Cross Buns for the 78th time,” she laughed.   Bloom wasn’t sure how well it would work, but her students are all doing well.  Hopefully they’ll be able to play together in real life sometime soon.

Band teacher Stephanie Bloom made videos to show new band students how to play each instrument.

* * * * *

Ridgefield teachers and students have gone above and beyond to make online learning a positive experience.  Bloom pointed out that everyone has had to be flexible for online learning to be a success, and she’s proud of what the students have achieved.  “They’re all progressing at a pace that makes sense for online learning,” she said.  “They’re showing us they can do it.”  As classes begin to transition gradually to hybrid learning models, Ridgefield teachers and students are proving they can overcome all kinds of challenges.


Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 22, 2021




January 22, 2021

Dear Ridgefield Families,

I want to start this week with a BIG

to all the students and parents of the Ridgefield School District.  Providing the choice for in-person learning opportunities has been a challenge, but one that has been well worth it.  Our ability to continue providing and expanding in-person learning opportunities is due to everyone following COVID safety precautions: frequently washing hands, wearing face coverings, social distancing, and keeping children home if they are not feeling well.

Earlier this week, we welcomed back first graders.  It was quite the sight to see more students filling the halls and classrooms.  We expand in-person learning options once again this coming week with the addition of second graders. Welcome back!  Below is the current schedule for the expansion of in-person instruction options for the remaining elementary grades.

  • Monday, January 25 – 2nd grade starts
  • Monday, February 1 – 3rd grade starts
  • Monday, February 8 – 4th and 5th grade starts (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

This week, we also welcomed back a limited number of secondary students.  While the direct instruction is still coming from our talented certificated staff via a remote environment, our incredible classified staff are providing supervised learning support for select students in seventh grade, eighth grade, and members of the class of 2021.  We are committed to expanding this in-person supervised learning support for additional secondary students in the weeks to come.  Please reference the schedule below for more information.

  • Monday, February 1 – limited in-person student support for 6th and 9th graders
  • Monday, February 8 – limited in-person student support for 10th graders
  • Monday, February 16 – limited in-person student support for 11th graders

As I shared last week, the District is actively working to provide the option for a return to in-person instruction for all secondary students.  To continue that work, we ask all sixth – twelfth grade families to complete the appropriate learning mode registration below.  The survey informs the District which mode of learning you wish to enroll your student(s) in for the rest of the year (and the rest of the second trimester for sixth-grade students) once in-person learning resumes.

Currently, the District is planning for an A/B hybrid schedule.  In this schedule, students assigned to Group A will have in-person classes on Monday and Thursday, while students in Group B will have in-person classes on Tuesday and Friday.  All students will attend classes remotely on Wednesday.  You can find more information on the schedules by clicking on the appropriate grade band (6-8 hybrid schedule, 9-12 hybrid schedule).  I want to be clear; the Ridgefield School District is committed to a safe and sensible return following state guidance.

Please keep the student/family photos coming.  Use the email address (student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org) to share these candid moments.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent


ASB Students Use SpudderNation Instagram to Stay Connected

When high school students are all learning from home, it can be hard for them to connect socially.  In the past, Ridgefield High School’s Associated Student Body (ASB) hosted its events in-person.  With the switch to remote learning, the ASB chose instead to ramp up its online presence, offering students a new way to share experiences together.

The ASB runs one of the school’s Instagram accounts, SpudderNation.  ASB Leadership students decided to use the account as a platform for online content exclusive to Ridgefield High School.  They started creating fun features that all students could watch from their own homes.  Using Instagram allows them to social distance and be safe, but still have fun.

They started a live show on Instagram TV (IGTV) called Good Morning Wednesdays.  ASB Leadership students, including Presley McCaskill, Jaynie Murray, and Gabe Berkey, appear live each Wednesday on a split screen, each one with a coffee or warm beverage.  And much like a morning talk show, they discuss different topics.  Past topics have included how to start good studying habits, how to apply for college, and how to practice good mental health.  Viewers can submit questions online, and ASB students answer them during the broadcast.  Stefanie Foster, ASB Leadership Advisor, is glad to see a chance for students to interact, saying, “This is awesome peer-to-peer engagement.”

Each Friday, another group of ASB students host Spudder Night Live, a video compilation of different fun skits and segments.  Luke Price and Aidan Hundt serve as the hosts of Spudder Night Live and do their own segments, like interviewing guests or doing TikTok of the week, where they imitate a TikTok dance video.  Jacob Bell presents the weather, and Cash Hill discusses weekend highlights.  Justin Wilkins and his dog, Bentley, co-host random shower thoughts, like “Is the S or C silent in the word scent?”.  And Drew Harteloo reviews different products; recently he sawed up a log to review a chainsaw.  Annikka Hill helps put the video features together into a show.

The opening of Spudder Night Live features ASB students together–but safe and socially distanced on their bikes.


Jaynie Murray and Gabe Berkey host an episode of Good Morning Wednesdays, a live show with different topics that also answers viewer questions.


Luke Price and Aidan Hundt host Spudder Night Live on Ridgefield High School’s Instagram account, SpudderNation.


A gingerbread house decorating contest was one of many events that ASB students shared on the SpudderNation Instagram account.

Over the holidays, they also created a special music video.  High school teachers and staff lip-synced and danced to different sections of Jingle Bell Rock, and the students compiled the clips together into one fun video.  They released it on Spudder Night Live during winter break.

Price is glad people are enjoying Spudder Night Live.  “We started it to make people feel like they’re still connected.  So if it gets hard to think of new ideas, we remind ourselves that it’s about feeling like we’re all still together.”  He plans for Spudder Night Live to continue even after they return to school.

In addition to the student-run shows, ASB also hosts events on Instagram, like a gingerbread house decorating contest, and virtual class color wars, where each grade wore a different color.  Spirit Week went entirely online as well.  And the ASB sponsored a real-life food drive for the Ridgefield Family Resource Center, posting collection boxes at Ridgefield Pioneer Marketplace, Lava Java, and Ridgefield High School.

Having a social media feed that is almost entirely student-driven is unusual, but it has proved to be incredibly popular; SpudderNation gets hundreds of student views.  Ridgefield High School Principal Christen Palmer said, “I am so proud of these students for finding a way to communicate with each other despite all these challenges.  They are absolutely killing it with SpudderNation!”

Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 15, 2021




January 15, 2021

Dear Ridgefield Families,

Roughly two weeks ago, we welcomed our first cohort of students back to in-person instruction.  I can tell you first hand the energy and excitement that comes from having students in the buildings is second to none.  I have had a chance to visit both elementary schools to watch arrival, dismissal, and peek in on learning.  I have heard from administrators and teachers alike that the counter-measures, procedures, and protocols we have put in place at school are working as intended.  For those of you sending students to school for in-person services, please remember to complete your daily attestation before leaving the house.  If your child is not feeling well or has exposure to someone not feeling well, please keep them at home.  More than ever, we are dependent on each other to do the right thing.

We welcome back first-grade students when we return on January 19, following the three-day weekend to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Below is the current schedule for a return to in-person instruction for grades 1-5.  To the parents of fifth-grade students, you will be receiving an email this afternoon with information on registering for your desired learning mode for the remainder of the second trimester.

  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th and 5th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

Last week, I shared with you that our attention has now shifted to providing our secondary students opportunities to return to in-person instruction.  I am pleased to share that beginning Tuesday, January 19, we will be welcoming in a limited number of secondary students.  We are offering supervised learning support for select students in seventh and eighth grade and our seniors.  The District will expand these services to other secondary grades in the weeks to come.  Please see below for a more detailed phased-in approach.

  • January 19 – limited in-person student support for 7th, 8th, and 12th graders
  • February 1 – limited in-person student support for 6th and 9th graders
  • February 8 – limited in-person student support for 10th graders
  • February 16 – limited in-person student support for 11th graders

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me the past many months to share their thoughts on in-person and remote learning.  I am grateful to live in such a supportive and passionate community, and your feedback makes us better.  Regularly, I hear the plea to extend in-person learning options to secondary students.  Please know, the school board and I are resolute in our commitment to expand the in-person learning option for all students as soon as possible…safely and sensibly.  That means we look closely at the various metrics to help inform our decision.

While the plan above is bringing back limited numbers of students for in-person support, the District is working diligently to provide the option for a return to in-person instruction for all secondary students.The current guidance suggests, among other metrics, that when COVID activity levels are above 350 per 100,000 people, school districts should prioritize elementary students.  When the rate drops below 350 (but above 200), the focus is on middle school students’ return.  As the rate drops below 200, the return of high school students is prioritized.

I hope you’re enjoying catching a glimpse of the resilience our community is showing during this ongoing pandemic.  Please keep them coming! Use the email address (student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org) to share these candid moments.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

New Enrollments for Ridgefield Early Learning Center Starts March 1st

Save the Date!  New family enrollments for the Ridgefield Early Learning Center will be accepted starting Monday, March 1st for the 2021-22 school year.  For current families, the enrollment period is February 16-25, 2021.

For more information, visit the Early Learning Center webpage at ridgefieldsd.org or email Erika Muir at erika.muir@ridgefieldsd.org.

Ridgefield School District Honors January Employee and Students of the Month

On January 12, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

Employee of the Month

Jody Harris is a committed, collegial and joyful preschool teacher and colleague at the Ridgefield Early Learning Center.  Her love and enjoyment of watching children learn, achieve and grow is only matched by her respect and kindness for families.  Children run to greet her every morning and beg to stay with her “just a little bit longer” at the end of each day.  She arrives early and puts in all the extra time and effort required of a preschool teacher.  She takes the initiative to offer her help readily to peers, families and children in ways that are thoughtful and meaningful.  To listen to her laughing, playing and learning alongside her Pre-K students is a highlight of each day.  Thank you, Jody, for being an exemplary staff member and leader for our Hash Browns.

Jody Harris

Students of the Month

Magnolia Gomez was selected as January’s Student of the Month at the Early Learning Center.  She is a hard worker in everything we do in class—writing her name, drawing, doing crafts and learning our ASL alphabet.  She’s friendly to all, making new friends feel comfortable and always the first to help anyone with whatever they need.  She makes sure all toys are cleaned up whether she’s playing with them or not, and she is always happy and excited to be with her friends and take part in activities.  Magnolia remembers the names of all teachers and classmates and has a true connection to everyone she meets.  She’s very social and eager to learn all she can.  We appreciate her “can do” attitude in the Early Learning Center.  She’s our January Hash Brown of the Month.  Great job, Magnolia!  We are so proud of you.

Magnolia Gomez

Benjamin Elder, a first grader, was selected at South Ridge Elementary.  Benjamin zooms into our virtual classroom each day ready and eager to learn.  He exemplifies the 3 R’s of being Respectful, Responsible and Resilient.  Benjamin is kind, respectful and helpful to others.  He is happy and positive and encourages others during our shared learning times.  He is a focused and responsible learner in our Google Classroom in both live whole group and small group learning.  Always challenging himself to learn more, Benjamin is eager to take on any new challenge presented to him.  He perseveres and demonstrates resilience with his can-do attitude.  We are so proud of Benjamin and his success in our classroom!

Benjamin Elder

Archer Chewning, a third grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  His name came to mind when his teacher thought about students who truly go above and beyond to help in their classroom community.  Archer participates in every Zoom activity and works hard to complete his assignments on time.  He can always be counted on to share his thoughts or tell a joke to liven up the class.  He finishes his schoolwork at the beginning of each day so that he can work on fun projects in class like reading aloud videos of books or creating how-to videos when he’s working on something cool.  Even when he’s done with his work, Archer willingly comes back on Zoom in the afternoon just so he can help classmates who are struggling.  He’s patient and kind and is great at guiding others even in distance learning.  It’s clear he has a heart for empowering others.  It is an honor to watch him continue to grow as a hardworking, compassionate, creative student online with the hope of one day seeing him shine in class in person.  From his teacher, Mrs. Capeloto:  “I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, Archer, and look forward to learning so much more from you this year!”

Archer Chewning

Elijah Ayon, a fifth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  Elijah has been extremely successful with remote learning.  He has been very responsible in attending every single one of our Zoom meetings.  He completes every assignment and puts great effort into all of his work.  Elijah is a group leader and pushes people to do their best.  His table group during the month of September won the table point challenge thanks in large part to his tremendous efforts and drive to win.  Despite the distance learning, it is very obvious that Elijah is a kind and respectful student.  We commend him for all of his hard work and resilience.

Elijah Ayon

Hannah Edwards, a seventh grader was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Hannah is an excellent student.  She is always positive, tries her best and has an amazing attitude.  She gives her all 100% of the time and encourages others in class.  She has discovered and shared strategies that help her learn in the remote model and leverages them with great success.  Hannah comes to class with her camera and microphone on, ready to interact with her teacher and peers.  She is a leader in break-out rooms and asks good questions throughout lessons.  She puts a lot of effort into her assignments, and it shows.  Hannah is one of only a few students who reaches out to learn how life is going with everyone else in class.  She is a bright light during these darker times, and she is very appreciated.  She is truly deserving of the honor of Student of the Month.

Hannah Edwards

Students at Ridgefield High School continue to make an impression on the staff with their efforts in remote learning, working hard to make it the best possible experience they can.  Sophomore Bella Anderson-Colon is one such student who does so for others as well as for herself.  “Bella has a positive attitude and has embraced the 3 R’s during remote learning,” says one teacher.  “She has helped to create an atmosphere where everyone is involved and participates.”  Bella says her daily goal is “to do whatever I can to make sure everyone is smiling.”    She also says she loves school.  She enjoys helping others, participates in her church youth group and worship team, plays guitar, sings in the school choir, and is a member of the jazz band.  She hopes to become a counselor after graduating high school.  It is for all these reasons that Bella Anderson-Colon was chosen to represent RHS as January’s Student of the Month.

Bella Anderson-Colon

Special thanks to the local office of James Schmeling at Allstate Insurance Company, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation and Ridgefield Boosters for sponsoring the District’s recognition program this school year.

Ridgefield School District Celebrates National Board Certified Teachers

Every student deserves to be taught by an accomplished teacher.  National Board Certification was designed to develop, retain and recognized accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide.  It is the most respected professional certification available in K-12 education.

Washington state regularly ranks among the top five states with the most new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT’s).  And this week, Ridgefield School District is proud to recognize all of our NBCT’s.  Thank you for your dedication to advancing your teaching practice, delivering high-quality teaching, and making a positive impact in student learning for Ridgefield students.

Austin Biel

Randy Christopherson

Stephanie Colantino

Sheila Davis

Ellen Ferrin

Amy Garrison

Paul Hamann

Michelle Hankins

Jamie Heim

Amy Hunt

Katie James

Francis Jequinto

Leilani Lamoreaux

Sara Marshall

Bob Meek

Mindy Morris

Shandel Oderman

Debora Ortner

Tiffany Quast

Michael Raff

Brittany Rodin

Jennifer Sawyer

Morning Stalcup

Kristen Sullens

Courtney Thompson

Chelsea Tipton

Kristi Young



District Now Accepting Student Referrals for Highly Capable Program

The Ridgefield School District is now accepting student referrals for participation in the Highly Capable Program for the 2021-22 school year.  Anyone may refer a student, including parents, teachers, other students and community members.  All students in Grades K-12 are eligible.

Highly Capable students perform or show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to others of their age, experience or background.  These students may demonstrate exceptionally high intellectual ability, memory, creativity, curiosity and leadership ability.

If you are interested in referring your child for participation in the Highly Capable Program, please click HERE to access a Referral Form.

Completed forms can be emailed to roger.fisher@ridgefieldsd.org or mailed to the address below and must be received no later than February 5, 2021.  Due to time and testing constraints, forms received after this deadline will not be accepted:

Roger Fisher

Highly Capable Program Coordinator

Ridgefield School District

510 Pioneer Street

Ridgefield, WA  98642

For more detailed information about the Highly Capable program, please visit the district website at:  https://www.ridgefieldsd.org/highly-capable-program–2

Free School Meals Extended to Last Day of School Year

Ridgefield School District and other school districts across the state will continue to provide free meals to all children aged 0-18 through the end of the school year thanks to an extension approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  As the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue, more families are taking advantage of the free meals.

To continue to benefit from free (or reduced price) school meals next school year, we encourage families to complete and submit a School Meal Application to determine if their children qualify.  The application process is simple and confidential.  There are no citizenship requirements for participation, and immigration status is not requested.

Households that experience a change in income due to job loss or other circumstances are especially encouraged to apply.

School Meal applications for 2021-22 will be available in late summer prior to the start of the new school year.

Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 5, 2021




Dear Ridgefield Families,

Happy New Year!  We welcomed back kindergarten students to in-person instruction today.  I thank each of you for your patience as we safely and sensibly navigated to this point.  Last night my kindergarten-age son, Declan, told Amanda and me that today was going to be the best day ever because he would get to see his teacher in-person at school.

As I shared before winter break, the Ridgefield School District plans to return elementary students through a phased-in approach.  This phased approach allows the District to refine mitigation strategies and monitor COVID activity as we judiciously add more students.  Our process is in line with guidance from OSPI and Public Health.  We have added the inclusion of 5th grade on February 8 in our phased approach.

  • Kindergarten starts Tuesday, January 5
  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th and 5th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites

You may be wondering why the District has changed our in-person instructional model to AM/PM cohorts for grades K-5.  The District worked collaboratively with teachers to devise this new schedule.  Given the current COVID-19 activity rate in Clark County, the AM/PM model provides some unique and pertinent benefits.  These include keeping student cohorts tight, limiting the number of teaching staff that need to report in-person (for example, our specialists can remain remote).  Most importantly, our students will receive intensive in-person instruction four days a week.  Currently, this plan runs through March 4th.  We will monitor the effectiveness of this instructional model when considering options for the third trimester.

With the opportunity for parents and students to select between in-person and remote instruction for grades K-5, our attention now turns towards grades 6-12.  We have a responsibility to provide the same opportunities and choices for all students.  We are actively working on plans that will provide the opportunity for secondary students to return when conditions allow.  More information will be forthcoming.  To the families of the Class of 2021, please know, we are committed to prioritizing your return to the high school.

I want to thank all the families that shared photos of their traditions and holiday celebrations with the District.  If the holiday season was a bit too busy and you didn’t find time to share, it is not too late.  You can still send pictures of your family celebrating meaningful traditions in your household to student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Ridgefield Teacher Creates Choir “Concert” from Student Videos

Some classes are a challenge to teach online, and choir is one of them.  It’s harder to hear how a choir’s harmony blends over a small computer speaker versus being surrounded by sound.  But even with online classes, Ridgefield choir teacher Bobbe Whetsell thought her students should be able to hear how they would sound in concert.  So she painstakingly compiled dozens of student videos into a virtual “concert”—for each of her five classes.

When classes had to go online back in March, Whetsell and her music department colleagues shifted gears to teach music history, musical notation, and other non-performance topics.  “The students adjusted really well,” Whetsell said.  “They understood that singing together wasn’t so easy to do right then.”

Over the summer, Whetsell and her colleagues tried to figure out how music teachers could tackle the change to remote learning as they moved forward.  By the time school started again in August, they were able to upload sheet music into Google Classroom so students could see the notes and the lyrics.  They could divide up in breakout rooms to learn each vocal part.  And students could perform solo or in small groups.  But it was hard to create music all together.  The pace of learning songs was somewhat slowed by the limitations of the online classroom.

By the end of the grading period, each class had learned at least one song for performance.  Whetsell recorded herself playing the song on piano, then had her students record a video of themselves singing along.  And when she got the videos back, she decided to try to put them all together.

Fifth graders at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School sang “Clap Your Hands and Sing Halleluia.”

Seventh graders from View Ridge Middle School sang “Rainy Day Getaway.”

“I’m not really good at technology, so it took me a long time,” she laughed.  But she blended each of the separate student videos into a single choral performance.  In all, Whetsell spent over forty hours editing and compiling the videos for her five classes.  “I wanted to honor the work that they put in and show them what it sounds like together.”

Whetsell had seen earlier in the year how music impacted her students.  As a reflection exercise, she asked students to choose a song that reflected how they felt right at that moment.  And the response was overwhelming, with students responding with their song choices and a range of emotions—isolated, scared, sad, mostly okay.  “Sometimes their emails were hard to read.  But music gave them a way to express it and work through it.”

The videos were a way for Whetsell to give music back to her students, a way to bring them just a little closer to what a normal choir would be like.  She emailed the videos to students and parents so they could have a virtual concert viewing together.  Even if they couldn’t perform in an auditorium for this concert, they could still share their music.  Whetsell was proud of her students and thought their performances were wonderful.   She beamed, saying, “I wanted them to hear it and be inspired.”

Union Ridge Elementary Students Enjoy Virtual Dance Party

How do you get students together to have fun when everyone is learning online from home?  With a school-sized virtual dance party!  Union Ridge Elementary School held an online school dance recently to give students a chance to celebrate their upcoming winter break.

The Union Ridge Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) usually holds fun events throughout the year, including dances, movie nights, and even carnivals.  But COVID-19 restrictions cancelled many events—including two dances last spring.

Perla Hauge, PTO co-president, explained how the virtual dance party came about.  “We had a large inventory of 80’s dance things so we thought, ‘How can we recreate a dance in a virtual way?’ We reached out to our DJ, Craig Brown at High Fidelity.”  Brown had run a virtual dance for a much smaller school over Zoom.  But with hundreds of students at Union Ridge, a regular Zoom meeting wasn’t going to be big enough.  They had to brainstorm.

Hauge spoke to the school district to get permission to stage the event as a Zoom webinar instead.  Webinars divide a large group into panelists and attendees.  Panelists are visible by everyone, but attendees are not.  To make the dance something everyone could participate in, the PTO decided to let attendees use the “raise your hand” feature to notify administrators when they wanted to show off their dance moves.

Prior to the event, the PTO made dance party packs (goody bags with cool shuttered sunglasses, a glow stick, and a snack) for each student.  Families picked up the dance party packs from a drive-through display outside the school.

The PTO made a display so parents could drive through to pick up goody bags before the dance.

On Thursday, everyone joined the webinar for the online dance party.  Things went smoothly, with lots of kids asking to be on camera to dance.  “Craig Brown of High Fidelity did an incredible job keeping the kids engaged,” Hauge said, with virtual games, great music, and a virtual scavenger hunt.

Hauge was pleased that almost 200 kids participated.  “The dance party was a big hit!” she said.  “Teachers, kids, parents, dogs, everyone had a blast. My second grader was especially tickled by learning the lawnmower and the shopping cart dance moves. He’s been doing them all morning!”

Sean Friend was excited to join the online dance party. PHOTO CREDIT: Kelley Friend

First grader Harper Rashoff got all decked out for the virtual dance. PHOTO CREDIT: Heidi McCoy Rashoff

Lots of students and parents were grateful for the break in routine.  Kelley Fuller-Friend posted on the PTO’s Facebook group, “What a fantastic dance party!  A big thank you to Perla Hauge and Heidi McCoy-Rashoff and the entire PTO crew for all of your hard work and thoughtfulness. A great way to end a tough year.”

With the success of their virtual dance party, the PTO hopes other schools will consider hosting similar events.  And Hague said they are going to continue planning new online events for the rest of the school year.  “We’re going to roll with it and do our best to bring our Tater Tots something new and fun.”

Ridgefield Teacher’s Characters Bring Learning to Life

How do you keep elementary school students interested in an all-day Zoom class?  At South Ridge Elementary School, third grade teacher Kristen Potter thought outside the box, wearing costumes to bring her lessons to life.  Now students look forward to fun with her alter egos, Detective Context Clue and Marta the Mathematician.

The inspiration came from a TikTok video, with a high school teacher playing a character to teach her class.  “I thought if it worked for high school students, it would definitely work for third graders,” Potter explained.  “I knew they would love it.  So, I tried it, and it was fun for all of us!”

By recording an asynchronous video, Potter introduces the characters seamlessly into her lessons.  Detective Context Clue shows up to teach the English Language Arts (ELA) class instead of Potter.  The Detective helps students find clues to the meanings of challenging words in the context of their reading.

After one lesson led by Detective Context Clue, a clever student said, “Mrs. Potter, you’re Detective Context Clue!”

Potter denied it.  “No, I’m not!  He had a mustache!”

“You drew that on!” the student accused.

Potter shrugged.  “No, I didn’t!”  Even if the students suspect their teacher is the detective, they’re still enjoying the lesson.

Marta the Mathematician is another character.  Marta is a math professor at Hogwarts.  Distantly related to Harry Potter, she helps explain challenging concepts like commutative and distributive properties in multiplication.

Detective Context Clue helps Kristen Potter’s third grade class find the meanings of words by using context clues.

Marta the Mathematician is another guest teacher in Potter’s class, leaving her math class at Hogwarts to teach properties of multiplication.

The students had so much fun with Detective Context Clue and Marta the Mathematician, they started creating characters too—completely on their own.  When they had assignments to make short videos for class, some of the students surprised Potter by showing up with fun filters and props.  She has students who have become news reporters, jungle explorers, and even a cheetah.

Potter has also added a little fun to the class by having guest speakers—say, a stuffed pigeon doll or her own dog.  “I have two monitors,” she explained, “So I can see the kids on one monitor but they can’t see me.”  Then she just focuses the camera on the guest speaker and teaches the lesson in the character’s voice.

Student Noah Marvin became an explorer in the Math Jungle, using his bamboo pen to solve math problems.

She’s not done creating characters yet, with plans for a construction worker to teach students how to calculate the area of rooms and buildings, and a baker who can help them learn about fractions.  “When I’m starting to teach a more challenging concept, it gets their attention,” Potter said.  “And it makes everybody laugh.”

Remote learning can be a challenge for teachers and students, but Potter’s characters are keeping everyone engaged.  And she is having a great time too, creating and performing new characters.  With so many different “teachers” to help, Potter’s students are sure to remember their online lessons for many years to come.

Superintendent’s Update to Families – December 17, 2020




December 17, 2020

Dear Ridgefield Families,

I want to start by wishing you all Happy Holidays!  This week has provided me with renewed hope and optimism for 2021.  The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is already in distribution to our heroic health care workers, with more doses on the way.  Additionally, just yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and state health officials provided new guidance for a return to in-person instruction.

Local COVID-19 activity rates remain high and have for much of the late fall.  Fortunately, the weekly increase in our local COVID-19 activity rate may finally be slowing down.  As you already know, kindergarten students begin in-person instruction on January 5th.  In the weeks following, the District will return additional elementary grades to in-person learning through a phase-in approach that aligns with our on-going commitment to a safe and sensible return.  Start dates for each grade level are below.  The Ridgefield School District would not be here without the ongoing support and resilience each of you has shown.  Thank you!

  • Kindergarten starts Tuesday, January 5
  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

The Ridgefield School District will continue to monitor the many variables to assist us in future planning and the expansion of in-person learning.

While this modified return to in-person instruction for our youngest learners (K-4) is exciting, we know that many families have found that Ridgefield Remote best meets their needs during the pandemic and wish to continue this learning model.  In order for the District to effectively allocate staff, we will be asking all parents of 1st – 4th grade students to complete a Learning Model Registration for the remainder of second trimester when we return in January.  Ridgefield Remote will continue to be a choice for families.  Please be on the lookout for the survey on Monday, January 4th.

I hope each of you had a chance to see the new RHS mascot around town this week.  I can tell you the staff here at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC) enjoyed seeing the Spud!  Be sure to tag and share your pictures with #SpotTheSpud.

All students that entered the Superintendent’s Holiday Greeting Card Contest, your entries will be available for pick-up at the RACC starting next week.

I appreciate all the families that have shared a small window into their homes and traditions with the District.  The holidays are a time to celebrate and connect with those closest to you.  I would love to celebrate and share the diversity within our community in an upcoming newsletter, but need your help.  Please submit a picture of your family celebrating meaningful traditions in your household.  You can email them to student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org.  With some luck, you may find your family picture in the next Community Update.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Winter Break Hours for Ridgefield School District Office

The Office of the Superintendent will be closed for school business during Winter Break (Monday, December 21 through Friday, January 1).

The Ridgefield School District Office will be open during Winter Break but will be closed on the following days:  December 24, 25, 28, 31 and January 1.

Regular business hours for both offices resume on Monday, January 4.