Retirees honored with novel donations

Posted 6/10/20

Five employees of the Port Townsend School District closed the books on their service to local public schools by adding to the shelves in the school libraries at Port Townsend High, Blue Heron Middle …

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Retirees honored with novel donations

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Five employees of the Port Townsend School District closed the books on their service to local public schools by adding to the shelves in the school libraries at Port Townsend High, Blue Heron Middle School and Salish Coast Elementary.

Five books have been donated in the retirees’ names. Leaving the school district at the end of the school year are Julie Russell, the dean of students at Blue Heron; Judy Cowling, a math and science teacher at PTHS; Ginny Boatman, a paraeducator at PTHS; Dawn Young, district accounting specialist; and Linda Norton, a food service assistant at Salish Coast Elementary.

Russell has worked for the district since 2013, and the book “Hey Kiddo” by Jarret Krosoczka was donated in her name to the Blue Heron library. It’s a graphic memoir based on a family’s struggle with addiction. 

At last week’s board meeting where the retirees were honored online, Superintendent John Polm Jr. noted that Russell, as dean of students, has helped students through some challenging situations.

“It’s been an interesting ride,” Russell said.

Cowling was also hired in 2013. She chose the book “To Engineer is Human” by Henry Petroski as her contribution to the PTHS library.

“I’ve enjoyed working at Port Townsend High School, and I thought this book was particularly apropos in that this book talks about the engineering that goes on when failures happen,” Cowling said. 

Failures identify weak links, she said, explaining the book’s premise, and that weak links can be avoided or strengthened in future designs.

“For us, right now, we have a lot of reengineering going on, and I just think that we have a lot of good engineers int he Port Townsend School District that are doing a super job of restructuring education and we wouldn’t have been able to push forward with some of the things that are going on except for a small little virus called COVID-19,” she said.

Boatman has worked for the district since 1995. Her book selection for the PTHS library is “Replenish” by Sandra Postel.

For her book, Boatman said she went back to her roots; her training as a hydrogeologist. 

“It discusses the sustainability of our water, which is very finite on the planet,” Boatman said. 

“It’s where my heart is,” she added. 

“I’ve enjoyed each and every day working at the PTSD schools, it’s just been a privilege,” Boatman told the school board during its online meeting last Thursday. “Thank you very much; I’m honored.”

Young has worked for the school district for the past
18 years. Her book selection for PTHS — “The Good Rain” by Timothy Egan — will be added to the collection at PTHS in her name.

Norton was hired in 2014. Her book for the library at Salish Coast Elementary is “Stop, Bot!” by James Yang.

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