Julie Breidenbach chosen as Fairmount Park Elementary principal

January 17, 2014 at 10:43 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 18 Comments

Seattle Public Schools has just announced that Julie Breidenbach will be principal of Fairmount Park Elementary when it reopens in West Seattle this fall. We reported yesterday that a principal announcement was likely by week’s end, and this letter from superintendent José Banda, to be sent to all elementary families in West Seattle, has just arrived:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Julie Breidenbach as the new principal of Fairmount Park Elementary School, effective immediately.

To meet the needs of our growing enrollment, Fairmount Park Elementary is scheduled to open for the 2014-15 school year. Ms. Breidenbach will be the planning principal this year and remain principal when the school opens to students. She will begin making the necessary decisions needed for a new school, including hiring teaching team leaders. She will also be connecting with families of students slated to attend Fairmount Park next year. [A note about enrollment: Current students who are in the new school’s boundary can stay at their current school, but will also be able to change to Fairmount Park if they wish. For more enrollment information, visit our Enrollment website.]

Julie Breidenbach transfers to Fairmount Park from Thurgood Marshall Elementary, where she has been principal since 2009. Fairmount Park will have an option APP program, and Ms. Breidenbach is a strong supporter of APP education. She has extensive experience in merging an APP program with a neighborhood school and is sensitive to the social and emotional needs of all students.

She is looking forward to the opportunity to open a school and work with the entire school community to build a school where children with all types of individual and special needs will feel part of an inclusive and supportive community.

A Fairmount Park school website has been established, and Ms. Breidenbach asks that all parents in West Seattle check the school’s website regularly. Meetings will be scheduled to work with families on getting the school ready to open and information on those meetings will be posted.

Ms. Breidenbach earned a Masters of Education from the University of Washington and a Bachelors of Arts in education from Washington State University. She holds a Washington State Administrative Certificate.

Please join me in welcoming Julie Breidenbach to Fairmount Park Elementary!

Information-night dates for Fairmount Park, to be held at Alki since the school is still undergoing expansion/renovation work, are in our Thursday story.

18 Comments

  1. Now it all makes sense, why the Thurgood Marshall PTA was working so hard on preventing any advanced learning program in West Seattle… :p

    Comment by marco — 11:18 am January 17, 2014 #

  2. They had absolutely no way of knowing that would happen. And the new program could be a great thing, but is could also be a terrible thing for APP in the south. I’d start being smug once it actually works out…

    Comment by vs — 11:42 am January 17, 2014 #

  3. WELCOME!! My family is excited for the ‘new’ school & the community it will create!

    Comment by seaview — 11:52 am January 17, 2014 #

  4. No, Marco, though I think you’re somewhat joking. I’m a WS parent with an APP child at Thurgood Marshall (TM). I was strenuously opposed to adding APP to WS with some vague mix with Spectrum at a Spectrum site for 2 main reasons. I saw how difficult and how much effort it took to build and establish the new APP program at TM, and it looked like SPS was (a) entirely underestimating the resources needed, the impact on the full APP system, etc.; and (b) beginning to disregard the hard-won recognition that APP is a special-needs program.

    I have to say, though, Julie Breidenbach has truly been a HEROIC principal at TM, and would appear to be exactly the right person for the job. Her appointment seems to suggest that the district has at least some appreciation of the scope of efforts needed to make this work, because it was Breidenbach herself who made this work at TM. I’m still wary that with recent retirements the district increasingly has no clear vision for or commitment to APP, but if it does, or if it delegates some of this to the principals, Breidenbach is almost uniquely well suited to pull this off successfully.

    Now, if SPS can only enhance the Spectrum option across the board, WS can finally have schools that many more parents can be comfortable sending their kids to. I know there are lots of different sorts of needs, and this is surely one of them.

    Comment by DF — 11:58 am January 17, 2014 #

  5. Well, Ms. Breidenbach is great at Marshall. I hope they put someone at Marshall that can keep up the great program.

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 12:19 pm January 17, 2014 #

  6. Well played, SPS. I can’t say I am completely surprised because I thought that would be one of the rare options to make this program a success and let APP parents buy into it from the get go.

    Comment by Christine — 12:50 pm January 17, 2014 #

  7. Oh, she sounds like a wonderful choice! Crossing my fingers she stays on for several years, and that SPS revises the school boundaries so that those of us on 37th north of Graham are zoned for FP, not Gatewood (no offense to Gatewood, but FP makes so much more sense for us, since it’s easy walking distance and doesn’t involve crossing any arterials).

    Comment by SarahScoot — 12:51 pm January 17, 2014 #

  8. Forgot to mention: Congrats, Julie! Julie was the reason why we had our 7 year old on a bus for 2 hours a day. And now, we will reduce this time to 10 minutes walking to our neighborhood school. I am very happy about these news! Looking forward to help get this started.

    Comment by Christine — 1:00 pm January 17, 2014 #

  9. This is amazing news! I have a first grader at Thurgood Marshall and was prepared to struggle with whether to switch to Fairmount Park (which is also our neighborhood school). Now the decision is easy. If Ms. Breidenbach is there, it will work. Thank you SPS for making a great decision that will have long-reaching effects for the whole West Seattle peninsula.

    Comment by Delrige Mom — 3:03 pm January 17, 2014 #

  10. Julie Breidenbach is indefatigable, outstanding, inspiring – just plain wonderful.

    My child is at Thurgood Marshall and I’m very sorry we are losing this amazing principal but TM’s loss is Fairmount Park’s gain.

    We wish Ms. Breidenbach and all the Fairmount Park families smooth sailing. Congratulations!

    Comment by Laurie — 4:45 pm January 17, 2014 #

  11. I’m wondering what DF means by saying “some vague mix with Spectrum at a Spectrum site…” Meshing APP and Spectrum?…… I have never heard of anything Iike that…. What do you mean exactly?

    Comment by Beach20 — 10:14 pm January 17, 2014 #

  12. The Nov 20 school board vote to establish a number of new locations and pathways for APP included a decision to implement a new service model, “APP blended with Spectrum.” It’s unclear what that means (co-location only, or shared resources at the locations, or mixed classrooms), no one has really said. All the current programs have been driven by a clear POV that mixing APP with anyone in classrooms is not optimal for APP at the elementary level but that mixing Spectrum with gen-Ed is not only fine but could be the best model for Spectrum if implemented properly. With admin changes and the passage of time that clarity has eroded, and there’s been a task force meeting on service model delivery. The task force had not recommended changes on this when the school board voted, and the vote didn’t clarify what a “blend” would mean. So we don’t know either.

    Comment by DF — 7:37 am January 18, 2014 #

  13. This seems like great news for Fairmount Park families! As one of the founding parents of STEM, I know what goes into opening a new school and was worried about what seemed to be the lack of progress of planning for the school.

    Parents – the STEM PTA stands by ready to help, the process of creating a 501(c)(3) for fundraising takes a while (start asap) and is a bit complicated. Our contact info. is on our website k5stempta.com or email me at fundraising @ k5stempta.org

    And, Sarah, Gatewood is a great school, we were there, but the different STEM approach really interested my son. You’ll have a better sense for your child when s/he is older and you tour schools (they’re all different and unique in their own ways)

    Comment by Heidi A — 9:38 am January 18, 2014 #

  14. I’m a SPS teacher, I’ve worked with Julie before. Fairmount is so very lucky to get her as principal. I’m sure she will hire the best staff too! Lucky you!

    Comment by Marie — 10:50 am January 18, 2014 #

  15. Yes, as Christine said–well played SPS. Julie B’s move to the new FP really seems to have eased some of the trepidation of WS TM families that were not wanting to leave a solid program and her leadership to take a chance with the unvetted new program at FP. The next steps are seeing how the blended program will be set up, but Julie B’s leadership does encourage confidence.
    We’re in the smaller group of people for whom the TM program was not the right fit. So, will be looking forward to hearing more about the blended plan for FP and particularly how it will be different. Hoping the differences will be thoughtful and successful, and not overly shaddowed by notions to create a TM 2.0 at FP. Congrats and thanks Julie B for joining FP, I’m sure it was a tough decision to move, but I know WS appreciates your willingness to build this school!

    Comment by FPWS — 10:55 am January 18, 2014 #

  16. Welcome, Julie! Excellent news for Fairmount Park and West Seattle APP families.

    Comment by cruzer — 11:38 am January 18, 2014 #

  17. Congratulations, Julie! Thank you for all your hard work at TM…we were grateful to have you!

    Comment by R. — 2:08 am January 19, 2014 #

  18. I agree with Laurie and Julie is a perfect fit for the post and this neighborhood! Welcome to West Seattle. Now we have the tough decision of whether to move our current 4th grader next year. We were dead set against another school move but Julie is a great leader. Can’t wait to see hiw the teaching staff ends up!

    Comment by TheWoodlands — 4:55 pm January 20, 2014 #

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