Principal Lynn and Sukha

Lynn Heimsoth Shoultes Principal 2013-2017.

Lynn was appointed principal of Shoultes in the 2013/2014 school year.The priority for her was to create a positive learning environment for both students and staff.Lynn brought with her the knowledge of PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports).Our first introduction to PBIS was training for the office staff on SWIS .SWIS is discipline referral tracking program which changed how the staff referred students to administration for discipline.The SWIS system was our first step in adopting PBIS.

JoAnn Moffitt, M.W.S., C.S.W, Shoultes Counselor 2008-2017, writes about Lynn’s impact during her time as principal at Shoultes:

Lynn was trained in Compassionate Schools. What this means is that she knew The Heart of Teaching and Learning and brought the lens of understanding trauma informed practices to Shoultes. She was a proponent of meeting students where they were at: walking around the track instead of a consequence that was interpreted by the student as punitive. She ensured that each classroom had a "take a break area" or "Calm Zone" equipped with necessary "tools" to help students regulate.

In 2014, under Lynn's direction, our PBIS team rolled out the Super Shark award (of course, Principal Lynn did this with humor- as Katy Rudolph and I dressed in costume as well as Lynn (Shark-Lynn, Crab-Katy, Fish-JoAnn)- and the students were eager to rise to the Super Shark status. It was also with Lynn that our PBIS team flourished: outlining expected behaviors with our behavior matrix and we did a "rodeo" with stations for the entire school to do a "walk-about". Lynn also gave direction to "Sharky-Slips" that reinforced positive behavior that were then brought to the office for deposit (with further rewards randomly drawn).How special it was for students whose name was called to have lunch with Principal Lynn and Assistant Principal Conte! With a warm smile, a hearty laugh and sustained conversation, students were acknowledged by Principal Lynn once a month for their positive behavior.

Self-Care and the need to ensure that we were taking care of ourselves was a major theme that Lynn embraced. (While she encouraged book studies, data driven practice in the classroom, differentiated teaching, growth mindset practices and "out of the box" strategies, she also demanded "self-care plans" from her staff.) She taught staff as she would students, with her heart.

Finally, under Lynn's leadership, our Shoultes community became more aware of culturally sensitive practices. On more than one occasion, she had Dr. Anthony Craig work with us on recognizing bias and creating culturally sensitive classrooms. All students and families were welcome.

Lynn’s second school year (2014/2015) at Shoultes the district funded a shared Assistant Principal.Katy Rudolph was a driving force with Lynn and JoAnn Moffitt to bring forward PBIS and self-care to the students and staff. During this school year the Marysville School District suffered a tremendous tragedy that affected every school.The focus became two fold during this year:how can we help students though the fear and grief and how do we stay focused and continue to improve academically?Lynn’s background in counseling guided our staff and students through this difficult year.

Katy Rudolph reflects on working and her friendship with Lynn:

My memories include so many fun stories and I only had the opportunity to work with her for one year- yet she continued to mentor me for the last five. My first year in Washington state included working at Shoultes as the Assistant Principal. I remember learning from Lynn everyday-whether it was her approach with students, parents, or staff.She was incredibly strong but always wanted to emphasize the importance of self-care, being realistic how fast to go when starting up something new, and being really good at listening to others.

I remember her idea of starting the Super Shark project. We got so excited about costumes- once we knew the goal, we knew we had to roll it out. I made her a cape to emphasize the “SUPER” in Super Shark. Kids LOVED this idea. We had fun rolling it out and creating incentives for the students to earn. My previous experience didn’t offer this kind of learning or experience at all. I would never have thought of anything like this which is why I continue to say that Lynn was one of the best mentors in my leadership tenure.

After working at Shoultes, I could send her a text or give her a quick call to ask what she would do here or there. She always offered something completely grounded and completely appropriate. She was never afraid to offer a solution that was best for students.

In addition to her expertise, she knew how to laugh—she had an amazing laugh. Any job in a public-school system is tough work, but she made it fun and we had a good time even when it was hard.

Working with Lynn was a defining point in my career. I learned a tremendous amount from her. To not be able to ask her for her opinion is just daunting to me. To say I am sad is an understatement. I am so glad I got to know her for part of her journey.

The start of the 2015/2016 brought the dogs to Shoultes.Jessica Conte was assigned as our new Assistant Principal and with her came Zenith and Wonka.Lynn embraced the idea of the therapy dogs to work with students that needed a little extra.Lynn and Jessica collaborated on how best to utilize the dogs.Zenith and Wonka greeted students before school, helped ease anxiety for some students, opened up conversations with staff, parents and students.Lynn recognized the positive influence the dogs were having on our students and decided to embark on owning and training a therapy dog.Second grade teacher, Deborah Vincelette, also began the journey of owning and training a therapy dog.Sukha and Mousse joined the staff fall of 2016/2017 as therapy dogs in training.

Principal Lynn’s final year at Shoultes the students, parents, and staff embraced the dogs on campus.The office went to the dogs.Three days a week there were three dogs in the office for students to read to, talk to, and just come in and pet.Lynn’s last year brought the smooth sailing of the PBIS strategies that she began in 2014.The student response to “Sharkys” were exciting to see.The Super Shark badges were held in high esteem and were difficult to obtain, but over half the students were able receive their badges.

Principal Lynn and Sukha left Shoultes with fond memories. PBIS strategies are still used throughout the district.Shoultes still has one therapy dog on campus.Mousse is used to reinforce positive behavior by playing catch with selected students that reach their goals.Principal Lynn and Sukha took their knowledge and leadership to the Bellingham School District to be closer to her home. It was such a privilege to have Principal Lynn and her sidekick Sukha serve the Shoultes community.Their influence is still felt years after theymoved on.

With the loss of Lynn Heimsoth or “Principal Lynn” many have expressed their sympathies and desire to honor her work and dedication to the Shoultes community. The PTSA is sponsoring a memorial to acknowledge both Principal Lynn and her dog Zukha. A decision has been made to purchase a bench that will be installed near the office entry. The bench will have an inscription that acknowledges her and the service she provided. Currently, the PTSA is still collecting funds to purchase this item. If you are interested in helping to fund this memorial, please reach out through email to our PTSA: shoultesptsa7.4.25@gmail.com.