Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Ready

Yesterday workers from the company CB Richard Ellis came and cleaned up First Place in honor of the United Way Day of Caring. The United Way Day of Caring is Septemeber 24th, however they came early to help First Place prepare for the new school year. The workers painted the classrooms, common room, and bathrooms. They cleaned up the vegetable garden, planted and weeded, power washed the building, and repainted the parking lot. The school looks refreshed and ready for the school year. Thank you CB Richard Ellis! September here we come.

Golf Tournament

Last Thursday the 19th, Remco-Deacon hosted a golf tournament for First Place at the Harbour Pointe Golf Course in Mukilteo. Sara Lattimer was the organizer of the event, and did an amazing job coordinating the players, sponsers, and volunteers. There were 34 teams out on the course, over 130 total players! The golfers started out around 1:30, and after finishing up had dinner and more activities inside the club.

First Place staff Chris Cooper and Lisa Foss were on hole eight during the tournament, giving the players another way to donate. Players were allowed to pay a fee in order for one person on the team to pick out a dress (from a particularly hideous assortment) and step up to the women's tee. This was great entertainment and many players participated.

A special thanks to Remco-Deacon and all of the sponsers of the golf tournament. First Place raised over five thousand dollars from this event, which will be especially important as we roll into the new school year!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Place Graduation 2010

Last Friday June 15th, sixth-graders Natalie Givre and Ian Solis were celebrated for having successfully graduated from First Place School. Students, parents and teachers attended the afternoon ceremony at the African-American Museum. Natalie and Ian have been inseparable friends since they first started attending First Place. They are known for their acrobatic talents and both attend a weekend class in Georgetown together. Natalie and Ian will be moving onto bright futures at new schools next year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stephen R. Covey blog: “Our Children and the Crisis in Education”

Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has a passion for education reform and has now created his blog “Our Children and the Crisis in Education.”

This new blog shares insights on public education in America and how it can empower and teach youth in more effective ways.

Here’s a story from his first post:

“During a break in my presentation, Muriel came up to me, introduced herself, looked me straight in the eye, and asked: ‘Dr. Covey, do you think these [7 highly effective] habits can be taught to young children?’ I answered, ‘How young?’ She said, ‘Five years old.’ I thought about it briefly, and said, ‘I don't know why not;’ and then continued, ‘let me know if you ever try them out in your school.’

“And try she did. In the months that followed, Muriel and her team of administrators and teachers decided to create a whole new magnet theme for the school--leadership. The foundation of their approach combined the Seven Habits with quality, goal setting and measurement tools. The approach is inside-out, with the teachers and administrators learning, living and modeling the principles themselves first, and then, at the most basic level, integrating the principles into their teaching every day. There is no new curriculum. The principles of effectiveness are creatively woven by teachers into every subject -- reading, math, history, science, social studies, art, etc. From the moment they walk into the school each day until the final bell rings, the children soak in their adult leaders' belief that they are leaders of their own lives, have unique talents, and can make a difference. Each child, including those with special needs, is given a leadership role in the school: leader of greeting, leader of public speaking, leader of the school's daily news program and so forth. They love it and they thrive.”


First Place has been extremely successful using curriculum that builds on the students’ academic lessons, such as learning the times tables or periodic table of elements. At First Place, we utilize a community-based curriculum developed by our Executive Director called Classroom Without Walls. Each class chooses a topic of interest to them from the outside community, like the parks or health care, and then incorporates themes from those topics into their learning throughout the year.

When the kids went down to Olympia for the annual Have a Heart for Kids advocacy day, each student researched a current bill in the legislature that interested them. Some chose housing issues, others school funding, and several picked health care. Then they wrote letters to their Congress members to share their perspectives on the bills. This type of learning shows students that their education is not isolated, but relates to their community outside of school. It also encourages their involvement—and their parents’—in civic activities going on around them.


“The winds of education reform are beginning to stir once again,” wrote Covey. “Our collective conscience is being nudged. And there's good reason. The world has moved into one of the most profound eras of change in human history. Yet our children, for the most part, are simply not prepared for the new reality. The gap is widening. And we know it.”

Check out his blog on the Huffington Post for more interesting insights on public education today.

And stay tuned in on our blog for more info about Classroom Without Walls and First Place’s young leaders!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning Can Support Families!

Moving into a new home is a prideful accomplishment for the families who come to First Place!

We have some great news today – a high number of our families have been moving into transitional housing from shelters or shared housing. This is definitely a reason to celebrate!

Along with these great successes, First Place currently has a great need for household items to help these families turn an empty apartment into their home. We are looking for new and gently used household items.

If you’ve been spring cleaning, some of these items may be in your donate pile:
  • Kitchen items such as: plates, bowls, silverware, mugs, pots & pans, baking pans, colanders, cutting boards, serving utensils—and anything you find is essential in the kitchen!
  • Dish towels, bath towels, washcloths and laundry detergent
  • Pillows, comforters, blankets and sheet sets
  • Lamps with lightbulbs
  • Plastic Hangers

We currently are not able to accept furniture donations to pass on to families. We would like to encourage donation of gift certificates to places parents can purchase furniture and other household items. Gift certificates starting at $50 for these stores are greatly appreciated: Goodwill, Ikea, Value village, Target, JC Penney, and Fred Meyer.

More helpful ideas:
  • Purchase some of these items on and have them shipped directly to First Place. When you use the Amazon School Rewards link here, a percentage of your order is donated back to First Place.
  • Forward this blog to your friends and neighbors, or post it in your office break room.
  • Donate the proceeds of your spring garage sale to First Place.
  • Link to this blog from your Facebook page. Challenge your friends to get involved.
  • Ask your work department to each pick something off this list to donate.
For more information or to set up a time to deliver a donation contact Lisa Foss at (206) 323 6715.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Place Announces Brand New Partnership

First Place is announcing an exciting and brand new partnership with Antioch University Seattle and City University of Seattle. Below is our press release with the details.

March 25, 2010

A Washington State Educational First:
Antioch University Seattle, City University of Seattle and First Place Form New Partnership To Help Kids and Graduate Students

SEATTLE — Antioch University Seattle, City University of Seattle and First Place proudly announce the formation of a multi-disciplinary partnership to meet the training needs of Antioch University Seattle and CityU of Seattle students and the service delivery needs of First Place school’s students and their families. This partnership is a first of its kind in Washington State.

All three institutions anticipate the pilot will begin in September 2010. At that time Antioch University Seattle Psychology students will work with children and families on site at First Place, impacting the community while receiving course and practicum hours toward their degree. In addition, students from CityU’s Albright School of Education will begin their practicum by working with students in classrooms at First Place.

“CityU is proud to partner with First Place to provide extended opportunities for our future Education and Early Education teachers so that they may hone their skills in a collaborative and unique learning environment, simultaneously serving the needs of this special community,” comments Dr. Steven Olswang, Provost, CityU. “Our long history of providing teachers who work with special populations fits squarely with the populations First Place serves.”

“Having our Psychology students getting practicum hours working with First Place children and families will allow us to send psychologists out into the community that are trained to handle both educational and social emotional issues that are faced by many children and their families, not just homeless families,” stated Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet, President of Antioch University Seattle. “This is new kind of community partnership and we are very proud to be a part.”

In the partnership, students from both Antioch University Seattle and CityU will provide clinical assessment, intervention, advocacy, classroom teaching and various support services. First Place will work with professionals and students from both universities on educational philosophy and pedagogy and the unique needs and strengths of their clients.

“CityU students will gain experience working with clinical psychologists in a classroom setting. Action research by CityU students will report on their efforts to expand teaching pedagogy through working with students coming from challenging home lives,” commented Craig Schreiber, Ed.D., associate dean, CityU’s Albright School of Education.

“First Place has a history of creating strong and lasting partnerships to fulfill our mission to provide stability and education to families at risk for homelessness,” said Dr. Doreen Cato, Executive Director of First Place. “Especially in these difficult economic times it is imperative that we work in concert with others who share our community goals. We have found just such a partner in Antioch.”

About First Place:
First Place is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization located in Seattle’s Central Area. Our mission is to educate and nurture children whose families struggle with the risk or reality of homelessness, where we offer housing, culturally relevant education and support services enabling families to achieve permanent stability. Our vision is hope, home and education for every child, one family at a time. Learn more at

About City University of Seattle:
Founded in 1973 in Seattle, Washington, City University of Seattle is a private, not-for-profit university that has awarded over 45,000 degrees and certificates worldwide. City University of Seattle’s goal is to change lives for the good by offering high quality and relevant online and in-class education options to any person in the world with a desire to learn. The university is comprised of The School of Management, The Gordon Albright School of Education and the Division of Arts and Sciences. Headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, City University of Seattle offers classes at locations throughout Washington, Hawaii, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Slovakia, Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, The Czech Republic and China.

About Antioch University Seattle:
Antioch University Seattle is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. Students’ passion to advance their lives, personally and professionally, is developed through academic programs that respond to the world’s needs. Students become educators, therapists and counselors, creative leaders and entrepreneurs who contribute to the common good. Together, we form a visionary community that strikes a rare—and essential—balance between idealism and experience. Learn more at

Chris Cooper, First Place, 206.388.7775

Leslie Cohan, City University of Seattle, 425.709.5403

Lori Dugdale, Antioch University Seattle, 206.268.4106

First Place Students Read 320 Books In One Day!

On Friday, March 19, 2010, First Place held it's first Read-A-Thon in honor of National Reading Month and the love of reading at the school. Every class participated from preschool in the Griffin Early Learning Center all the way up to 6th Grade. After every book read, students wrote the name of the book on a leaf and added it to a reading tree in the school's multipurpose room.
Students came to school in their pajamas and classroom had guest readers to help break up the day! Here is a picture of the final tree with all 320 leaves.