Superintendent's Messages

  • November 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 11/8/2018

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  • October 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 10/10/2018

    october superintendent message


    wayne dent superintendents message

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  • June 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 6/11/2018

    Dear Sumner School District Community,


    As Superintendent of the Sumner School District, I stand committed to the students we serve every day.  I take great pride in leading an exemplary district known for academic excellence, strong instructional programs, award winning athletic and extracurricular programs, and outstanding community support.   


    I take my responsibility seriously to ensure our students and families feel cared for, celebrated, and academically challenged at school.  EVERY student in this district provides a unique richness and plays an integral part of our culture.


    Based on numerous in-depth conversations with students, staff, families, and community members, I have learned that some students feel afraid to come to school and are hurting because they are being, or have been, taunted, teased or ridiculed by others.


    Any hateful rhetoric heard in our hallways, buses, playgrounds, and classrooms must end — plain and simple. I find it appalling that some students fear coming to school because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, racial background, or socio-economic status.


    As a District, we have a moral and ethical obligation to take action. Students need our protection, advocacy, and reassurance now more than ever. Students who are harassed, bullied, and/or intimidated by others need to feel safe in reporting and be assured that their concern will be heard and investigated.


    We will fight our hardest to make sure every child feels protected, valued, and cared for no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity.  Firm consequences will be issued to students who act in offensive and hateful ways toward others.


    This week, families, students, staff and community members will have access to an online conversation that allows everyone to confidentially share their thoughts and concerns about this topic. Your feedback is critical in helping me gain a greater understanding of ways we can improve as a District. I, in turn, pledge to review and study comments and suggestions as an opportunity to learn and grow while helping every student reach 100% graduation.


    In the upcoming months, there will be additional opportunities for you to provide input and partner with us on examining issues of equity and inclusion. Please watch for announcements or invitations on our district website.  I highly encourage you to get involved.


    To report harassment, intimidation, or bullying, go to or notify your school principal if you see or hear anything that concerns you.


    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.


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  • May 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 5/4/2018

    What’s in a number? A lot! This annual report is meant to provide community members a high-level summary of Sumner School District’s academic success, activities and initiatives – by the numbers. Behind every number is a student, who we know by name, strength and need. The district continually dives deep into data to provide insight on progress and trends. We rely heavily on this analysis to help us shape and improve the trajectory of students’ path to graduation.


    Please take a moment to glance at this report for a snapshot of the 2016-17 school year. I’m proud of our students and staff and I value the support of our families, partners and communities who are vital to our success.

    2017 annual report graphic


    A hardcopy of this annual report was mailed to families mid-April.

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  • April 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 4/4/2018

    For me, spring is a time of renewal and revival. It’s inspiring to watch students realize their passions and embracing their desires to make a difference.


    With students, this has never been more evident than over the past couple of months during unsettling school tragedies nationwide. Our students feel empowered to shape and change important issues, and their participation in the March 14 walkout was a strong display of this.


    School safety is a nationwide focus and an issue we take seriously. Families, staff, students, and community members are asking questions and starting conversations in the spirit of wanting to know more about the safety and security measures we take as a district. I want to reassure you that school safety is the highest priority in the Sumner School District. We are committed to school safety every single day, not only when a tragedy strikes elsewhere.


    Our unwavering and relentless commitment to safety is visible in various ways throughout the district with vigilant staff, secure facilities and strong partnerships with law enforcement agencies. Here are some examples of how we’re keeping students and staff safe:


      • Emergency Drills: Every month all schools perform emergency drills, which include fire/evacuation, lockdown, earthquake, shelter-in-place and safety-related. Any emergency plan is only as good as the ability of students and staff to execute it, which is why regular drills are paramount in our schools.  
      • Secure electronic entry systems: From a security perspective, the most important function of a door is to control entry. Most schools have either a safety vestibule or secure electronic entry systems into classroom areas. Schools slated for construction will incorporate these features.   
      • Internal Locks: Staff can lock classroom doors from the inside of the room. When facing a lockdown situation in school, securing classrooms from the inside protects students from potential threats.
      • Campus Safety Officers: There are two campus safety officers at each high school and one campus safety officer at each middle school. These district employees help maintain order and discipline, prevent crime, and help investigate violations of school rules and policies.
      • School Resource Officer: Law enforcement resources are provided throughout the district.  A School Resource Officer, employed by the Sumner Police Department, is assigned to schools in the Sumner valley. The Bonney Lake Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department regularly patrol areas around our schools on the hill with a constant and immediate line of communication.
      • Security Cameras: Security cameras are installed at all of our secondary schools and most of our elementary schools. The district will use recent bond and levy funding to ensure security cameras are installed at all schools.   
      • Partnerships: Partnerships with law enforcement and emergency management agencies include ongoing conversations and activities such as safety meetings, coordination of emergency drills, staging, risk assessments and staff trainings.



    • Training and Preparedness: District staff is trained on effective school emergency management and regularly drill as an Emergency Operations Center re-enacting a wide range of possible threats and hazards that may impact a school. Training supports protocols of local emergency management resources and first responders to provide a cohesive, coordinated response in the event of an emergency.  



    We all share the responsibility of creating safe learning environments so students can achieve their highest potential. Here’s how you can help:


    • Report any potential threats. If your child sees something that may be a threat at school or online, please report it to your school principal or law enforcement.
    • Make sure your school has up-to-date contact information on file in case we need to notify you about an emergency situation. The Family Communication Protocol on the district website lets you know how and when you will be informed about a schoolwide emergency situation.


    Together, we help ensure the safety of all who are part our Sumner School District community. Thank you for sharing in this commitment! I invite you to learn even more about our safety procedures and emergency preparedness at

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  • March 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 3/8/2018

    The power of partnerships, sense of community and servant leadership are visible and evident throughout the Sumner School District and within our surrounding communities. In fact, February and March are filled with examples of such community celebrations, connectedness and conversations that make a difference.


    I’m highlighting just a few of the larger events that result in a substantial positive impact to our communities every year:


    • Benefit Night -- Talent Show and Dinner Auction: Hosted by Sumner High School’s ASB students, the 12th annual event held last month, raised $50,000 for Bonney Lake High School senior Cameron Cozzi, who is battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas, a highly-aggressive brain tumor.
    • Community Summit: Organized by Communities For Families Coalition, and sponsored by numerous organizations and individuals, the 25th annual summit on March 6 brought together hundreds of community members eager to learn about, and take action on, key issues affecting our communities.
    • Servus Conference: Thousands of students, businesses and community leaders across the state gathered for the 10th annual leadership conference at the ShoWare Center in Kent on March 7. Through nationally-recognized speakers, attendees become inspired to talk about improving personal relationships, schools, organizations, communities and the world.


    It’s exciting to see people of all ages, backgrounds and interests come together for the shared purpose of strengthening our community.  


    After being in the district for close to 20 years, there’s no other school district or community I’d rather be a part of. The servant hearts of so many are woven into the fiber of our communities. While our dedication for causes may vary, these events and partnerships bring about a sense of discovery, passion and action.


    “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” -- Margaret J. Wheatley

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  • February 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 2/6/2018

    Time for a celebration!  The recently-released 2017 graduation data reports that 89 percent of our students graduated on time. That’s nearly a 5 percent increase in just one year!


    This incredible accomplishment confirms that the district’s renewed and measurable focus on 100 percent graduation is working. Increasing our graduation rate is the collective effort of staff,  families, and partners who are integral in helping every student earn a high school diploma.  


    On top of a 5 percent increase in graduation rates, our district worked hard to decrease the graduation gap among among ethnic groups and students in special programs. Here are some notable gains comparing the class of 2013 with the class of 2017:


    • Students graduating on time increased 7.8 percent.
    • Graduation rates of students in our English Learner program increased 26 percent.
    • Graduation rates went up for nearly every racial demographic, including:
    • Hispanic/Latino: 14 percent increase
    • Two or More Races: 17.3 percent increase


    A high school diploma is valuable whether it takes four or five years to earn. For students who take five years to graduate, the rates are encouraging and continue to increase. The district graduated an additional 3.2 percent of students from the class of 2016, making our 2016 five-year graduation rate 87.2 percent, resulting in a 5.2 percent decrease in our dropout rate.  


    For years, we’ve seen a steady increase in our graduation rates, which we don’t take for granted. These increases, however, don’t come easy. We’re working relentlessly to make sure every student -- regardless of their race, income or special need – crosses the stage and turns their tassel. I’m grateful for your continued support in helping make 100 percent graduation a reality, in time.

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  • January 2018

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 1/4/2018

    The business of running our high-performing school district is complex, including funding. The Sumner School District, along with other districts throughout the state, rely on local levies to continue providing the very best education for our students to be successful in career and college, while becoming productive, contributing members of our communities.


    What’s important to note is that despite attempts in the state legislature to fully fund public education, we’re not there yet. Our levies account for about 20 percent of the district’s total revenue.


    The district will have two replacement levies on the February ballot: Educational Programs & Operation (formerly known as M&O) and Instructional Technology Improvements. Passing these levies is the only way to bridge the gap between what the state pays and the actual costs of operating our schools. Please know, these are replacement levies, not new taxes.


    Here’s a summary of how we use levy dollars:


    The Replacement Educational Programs & Operation Levy will help fund:

    • Health, safety and security
    • Operations, maintenance, grounds, utilities
    • Student transportation
    • Teachers, paraeducators, nurses, librarians, counselors, support personnel
    • Instructional materials and supplies
    • Arts, music, theater
    • Extracurricular activities and athletics
    • Special education programs
    • Staff training and development


    The Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy will help fund:

    • Maintenance of 1:1 digital device ratio: Provides every student equitable access to technology with Chromebooks that enhance learning and prepares students for the careers of tomorrow.
    • Technical support and training: Offers best practices in technology integration for teachers to deliver relevant and personalized learning experiences for every student.
    • Secure and reliable operations: Improves and maintains operations, infrastructure, licenses and internet access for students and teachers; expanded wireless network.


    So it’s clear that levy funding directly impacts the success of our district and our ability to graduate 100 percent of students, a goal that our community stands behind and why I’m so grateful for your long-standing support of our schools.  

    I encourage you to visit to learn more about these ballot measures.

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  • December 2017

    Posted by Laurie Dent on 12/5/2017

    The digital world is here to stay and the knowledge and use of technology will remain a critical component to student success. With that, it’s up to us – the school district and families – to partner in teaching students about safe and responsible technology use.


    What makes a good digital citizen? It comprises many aspects, including respecting yourself and others, protecting private information, managing your digital footprint, recognizing cyberbullying, understanding creative credit and copyright, and balancing the time spent online.


    Thanks to the voter-approved Technology Levy passed in 2014, the District has integrated technology into every classroom, for every student, every day. Levy funding has enriched classroom learning by providing all students with a Chromebook with students in grades 6-12 using them at school and home.   


    With this focus on technology, comes the responsibility to teach students about safety and appropriate use of the internet.  Here are just a few ways the District is doing that:

    • Classroom curriculum and activities are woven with Digital Citizenship lessons and guidelines.
    • Digital Citizenship Nights are held for parents to learn how to address online concerns, set clear guidelines and discover resources.
    • Security resources, such as Securly Parent Portal, provides parents of secondary students with weekly email reports on their child's online activity.


    I’ve borrowed an idea to visually convey the importance of good digital citizenship and a reminder to stay safe while online.  It’s called a “Digital Citizenship Kit!”   I’m hoping this kit  will  help you talk to your child about digital citizenship at home:

    • Padlock: Set strong passwords and set up passcode locks on all digital devices
    • Toothbrush: Just as you wouldn’t share your toothbrush, don’t ever share your passwords (except with parents).
    • Permanent marker: Everything you put online is permanent, even after hitting the delete button.
    • Magnifying glass: First impressions now start with a Google search. What might prospective employers or colleges see about you?


    Together, we can teach our kids to think critically, act responsibly and interact positively in this digital world.

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  • November 2017

    Posted by Sarah Gillispie on 11/1/2017

    The month of November naturally gives us time to pause and reflect on what we’re thankful for.


    I’m certainly thankful for the honor to serve students, families and the community as superintendent of the Sumner School District.

    I’m also thankful for our community members and partners who play a critical role in the education of our students. The District not only values your involvement and partnership, we depend on it. We cannot do our job without you and because of you, we are a stronger District.


    Recently, I was reminded of the power of our community coming together when we broke ground for our new elementary school in Tehaleh. This exciting event would not have been possible without your vote in passing our 2016 Capital Projects Bond. This is evidence that schools are a vital part of a community’s infrastructure.   


    I am so grateful for your trust and confidence in the work we do every day, so that we can continue providing our community with award winning schools and high graduation rates. Because of you, every student leaves our district with a pathway for success, and for that I am truly grateful.

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