New Port Townsend superintendent prepares for ‘The Year of Re-engagement’

Posted 8/25/21

Linda Rosenbury, Port Townsend School District’s new superintendent, moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a vastly different setting in Port Townsend.

She said she was …

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New Port Townsend superintendent prepares for ‘The Year of Re-engagement’


Linda Rosenbury, Port Townsend School District’s new superintendent, moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a vastly different setting in Port Townsend.

She said she was seeking a community-centered environment to implement her education and leadership style.

“I wanted to be in a community like Port Townsend, where there are deep relationships and everybody knows everybody,” Rosenbury said.

Rosenbury served as a principal and teacher in New York, with 19 years of experience in education.

With a new school district comes new challenges, but Rosenbury plans to apply what she learned from her time as a principal back east. 

“I was a principal in Brooklyn, in the Bronx. I was anonymous there. When I was walking through the community, people didn’t know who I was, I didn’t really know who they were,” Rosenbury said. 

“After being a principal for 10 years I felt like I was encountering the same challenges, and I wanted to have a different level of policy decision-making, and a more wholistic approach to how students can be supported.”

Rosenbury’s inaugural year will involve listening to community leaders to identify prevalent problems in the school district, and finding new ways to guide students toward success. 

“We’re embarking on a new strategic plan, and this year we’ll be listening and learning,” Rosenbury said.

A major influence on Rosenbury’s listen-first leadership style was a book she read in school, “Humble Inquiry,” based on asking questions to understand and learn instead of just seeking an answer. 

Rosenbury will implement this into her leadership style to encourage open communication, and to solve problems at their root, she said. 

Re-engagement is a central objective to Rosenbury’s strategy, as school systems worldwide have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the Port Townsend School District remained open for the majority of 2020-21 academic school year, some students fell behind.

“What I hope families can expect, too, is we’re not treating this as a year of remediation. We’re treating this as a year of acceleration,” she said. 

“We are assembling a re-engagement committee that will include students, family members, staff, and community members to monitor our progress over the next two years, and make sure that we’re using the federal funds we received for re-engagement to really serve the needs we’re seeing on the ground.”

Place-based learning — a teaching strategy connecting what students are taught in the classroom to real-life problems or opportunities — will be emphasized in the curriculum to encourage students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

And Salish Coast Elementary School’s teaching garden, which was built last year, will serve as a place-based learning spot for students to apply knowledge from the classroom to a physical setting.

“This is our classroom … the idea is that students learn from their natural environment,” Rosenbury said from her bench in the garden. 

The garden is currently being expanded to include a produce section, where freshly grown crops can be used in the cafeteria for locally sourced meals.

The Port Townsend Online Program will begin this year for students who are unable to attend in person, or prefer online learning over the traditional classroom setting.

“We are now piloting the Port Townsend Online Program for grades one through 12,” Rosenbury explained. “Our program includes daily office hours with teachers and weekly check-ins.” 

Online students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. The school district will still provide Chromebook laptops to students to use if needed, as was done during the pandemic.

Rosenbury will continue to involve Port Townsend’s senior professional population in the education process through Skillmation, a mentoring program that connects high-school students with locals who share similar interests to foster advisor-ship in a wide variety of skill sets. 

Rosenbury plans to open the program to middle school students this year.

“They bring joy to our students, and our students can bring joy to them,” Rosenbury said. “Everyone is part of the school district; our community is very broad.”

As the first day of school approaches Sept. 7, Rosenbury will re-engage students and aim to improve student success in Port Townsend schools.

“I don’t believe that just because I went to Harvard and have a doctorate, that I have the answers. I believe that as a leader it’s my role to help everyone find their place in the school system … so we’re all rowing in the right direction,” Rosenbury said.

Rosenbury has a bit of experience when it comes to momentum. Her hobbies include cycling and hiking, as well as singing and playing the violin. And she recently adopted Walter, a Treeing Walker coonhound, from the Humane Society of Jefferson County. 

Community members can meet Rosenbury at a community meet-and-greet, planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday,
Aug. 25 in the Cotton Building, at 607 Water St.


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