Curiosity and Compassion: Leading for Change


Please join us for WASA’s Spring Conference for Small School Leaders entitled Curiosity and Compassion: Leading for Change. This year’s conference will feature Dr. Erik Shonstrom author of Wild Curiosity and The Indoor Epidemic, and Dr. Mona Johnson who will speak on Fostering Resilient Workplaces: Sustaining Ourselves & Our Staff. In addition, Chris Reykdal and Dan Steele will share the latest information from OPSI and the Legislature, and there will be relevant concurrent sessions and numerous opportunities to collaborate with your peers.

Monday, March 20 | 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 21 | 7:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

District administrators and school board directors

If you are a leader in a district with 2,500 or fewer FTE, this conference is designed for you. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from and with your colleagues from across the state through content developed to meet your unique needs as a small school leader.



 4:00–5:30 p.m.  WASA Small Schools Committee and WSSDA Small Schools   Task Force Joint Committee Meeting 
 5:30–6:30 p.m.   Joint Committee Reception  

 7:30–8:30 a.m.  Registration | Exhibits | Breakfast Buffet 
 8:30–9 a.m.  Welcome: Jake Dingman & Joel Aune
 WASA Professional Learning: Kim Fry & Mike Nelson 
 9–9:45 a.m.  Erik Shonstrom, Assistant Professor, Champlain College 
The Curious Classroom | Sponsored by Rural Education Center 
 9:45–10 a.m.   Exhibit Break
 10–10:45 a.m.  By-Size Discussion Groups Committee
 Non-High  1–200 FTE  201–499 FTE  500–999 FTE  1,000+ FTE
 Fuji 1–2  Fuji 3–4  Gala 1–2  Gala 3–4  Golden Delicious
 Patricia Beathard, Superintendent, Brinnon 
 Lisa Gredvig, Superintendent, Union Gap 
 Jake Dingham, Superintendent, Oaksdale 
 Paul Clark, Superintendent, Colton
 Frank Redmon, Superintendent, Quilcene 
 Greg Whitmore, Superintendent, Entiat
 Ingrid Colvard, Superintendent, Stevenson-Carson
 Tom Venable, Superintendent, Methow Valley 
 Mary Sewright, Superintendent, Mt. Baker 
Michael Farmer, Superintendent, Dieringer 

 10:45–11:15 a.m.  Exhibit Break
 11:15 a.m.–12 p.m.  Concurrent Session I
 Fuji 1–2  Fuji 3–4  Gala 1–2  Gala 3–4
 Mindy Schultz, Director of Student Success 
 Andrea Wickenhagen, Principal of Marcus Whitman Cowiche (MWC) Elementary 
 Don Strother, Principal of Highland JHS 
 Brandon Jensen, Principal of HHS 
 Mark Anderson, Superintendent, Highland 
 Kevin Chase, Superintendent ESD 105, AESD Network Co-Executive Sponsor for School Safety 
 Rob Roettger, Superintendent NEWESD 101, AESD Network Co-Executive Sponsor for School Safety 
 Salliejo Evers, NEWESD 101, Comprehensive School Safety Specialist  
 Ciela Meyer, OESD 114, Behavioral Health Coordinator 
 Hunter McLeod, NCESD 171, Threat Assessment Coordinator 
 Troy Wright, Principal 
 Mary Sewright, Superintendent, Mount Baker
 Niki Kuklenski, Educator, Mount Baker
 Eric Sobbotta, Rearden
 John Hannah, Morton 
 Balanced Calendar from the Building Leader Perspective   Regional Safety Centers: Essential Supports for Student & School Safety  Pawsitively Baker: One Middle School's Journey with Animal Assisted Interventions  Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Staff 
 Highland School District, thinking outside the 180 days to better meet student needs. Highland is in their second year of implementation and building principals will share from their perspective how the new calendar has been a successful change in practice for both students and staff.     Did you know that the nine Educational Services Districts (ESDs) are resources for school safety and student well-being services? From dealing with swatting to student behavioral health services to emergency operations planning, we’ve got your back! Join this session to hear from initiative leaders from the Association of ESDs (AESD) Network about services and supports that are available across the AESD Network in every region of the state.  Animal assisted interventions (AAI) have a wealth of science supporting their efficacy in creating a more positive feeling on campus while also offering powerful interventions for kids who struggle with anxiety, emotional dysregulation, and other issues that adversely impact their ability to engage with learning. At Mount Baker Junior High, we have established an AAI program that has put smiles on a lot of faces while also helping kids re-engage with learning when in crisis.   Small and rural school districts face unique challenges securing and keeping high quality employees. In this session, panelists will share approaches they’re taking to overcome employment obstacles and explore areas of continued focus. Participants will be given opportunities to ask questions and contribute to a bank of ideas to consider. 

 12–1:15 p.m.   Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction | Tom Ahearne, Council, Foster Garvey
 David vs. Goliath Part Two: The Washington Supreme Court’s March 14 Hearing in Wahkiakum’s Facilities Funding Lawsuit   Against the State, and Possible Outcomes that Our Small Schools Should Prepare to See Coming Over the Horizon.
 1:15–1:45 p.m.  Exhibits 
 1:45–2:30 p.m.   Concurrent Session II
 Fuji 1–2  Fuji 3–4  Gala 1–2  Gala 3–4
 Justin Bradford Superintendent, Prescott
 Anne Gallagher, Educational Coach, Anne Gallagher Consulting, LLC
 Brent Freeman, Superintendent, Wahkiakum
 Tom Ahearne, Attorney, Foster Garvey 
 Lucy Dafoe, Principal, Cape Flattery
 Kathryn Kurtz, Executive Director, Pacific Education Institute 
 Ingrid Colvard, Superintendent, Stevenson-Carson
 Scott Mauk, Superintendent, Chimacum
 Overcoming Budget Challenges & Limited Staffing to Get to the Important Work  David vs. Goliath Q&A: Digging into What the Wahkiakum v. State Facilities Funding Lawsuit Could Mean to our Kids in Small School Districts  Engage Youth, Inspire Learning Through Culturally Responsive, Outdoor Education!  Elevating Student Voice: The Journey of Two School Districts
 Hear how one superintendent has leveraged grant opportunities to support school improvement efforts. Ideas for building partnerships with surrounding districts to share resources, including substitute teachers, PLC’s, grants, parent engagement partnerships and more will be shared.  Additionally, the power of 45-day leadership goal setting and planning in support of continuous improvement efforts in the district will be examined.  This session is an interactive follow up to the Wahkiakum Lawsuit lunch presentation.  Join this suit’s lead lawyer (Tom Ahearne) and Wahkiakum Superintendent (Brent Freeman) to ask questions, discover more details, and learn how to expand your district’s involvement in the pursuit of needed facilities funding.  Why should every student experience culturally responsive outdoor education? Join this session to learn about the research, benefits and logistics of outdoor learning and current state initiatives including FieldSTEM and “Outdoor Learning For All” that can support your work. There will be time for participants to consider ways in which your school(s) could inspire youth through culturally responsive, outdoor education. Hear from a district that has recently initiated nature-based and culture-based courses to increase student engagement, decrease absenteeism and discipline with a goal toward increased academic performance and community involvement.  From rethinking who and how students engage with the school board to the superintendent’s role in gathering insights from students of all ages, the superintendents of Chimacum and Stevenson-Carson School Districts will share efforts they’re taking to elevate student voice to influence decision-making. Learn from their early stages of implantation, including the adjustments they’ve made along the way, and leave with ideas for consideration in your district.

 2:30–3 p.m.  Ice Cream Social & Prize Drawing 
 3–4:30 p.m.    Keynote: Erik Shonstrom, Assistant Professor, Champlain College
 Outside the Inbox  
 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Conference Reception
 Sponsored by Beresford, BLRB, & McKinstry


 7:30–8:30 a.m.    Breakfast Buffet  
 8:30–9:30 a.m.   Mona Johnson, Director of System Pathways, Olympic ESD 114  
 Fostering Resilient Workplaces: Sustaining Ourselves & Our Staff
 9:30–9:45 a.m.  Break
 9:45 –11 a.m.  Dan Steele
 2023 Legislative Session Update
 11–11:15 a.m.  Closing
 11:15 a.m.   Grab and Go Boxed Lunches


Contact Lisa Gehman at lgehman@wasa-oly.org with registration questions.
Contact Kim Fry at 360.239.6225 or kfry@wasa-oly.org with questions about the program.

Upcoming Conferences

Interested in attending an upcoming conference? Check out the WASA Conference Calendar.

View Upcoming Conferences