Popular Ballard teacher says he’s out of a job

You may remember Joseph Skillings, the popular Adams Elementary School teacher who was assaulted after coming to the defense of a woman who was being harrassed at a Capitol Hill bus stop. Skillings suffered a serious head injury, and after months of rehabilitation, he returned to work at Adams in a part-time role thanks to the support of Adams Principal Anne Johnson, co-workers and friends. But now the Seattle Times reports Skillings says the school district has dropped him from the payroll because they need a full-time teacher and can’t afford his half-time position. “I’m very emotional and upset,” Skillings said. “Everything is falling apart on me.” The former teacher of the year says he still hopes one day to return to teaching full-time.

School district considers sales proposals

The Seattle School Board is meeting tonight (Wednesday) to discuss the proposed sales of two historic elementary schools and one playground. Crown Hill school would be sold to Small Faces Child Development Center for $1.3 million, and John B. Allen would be sold to the Phinney Neighborhood Association for just over $3 million. The board will also take a look at a proposal to sell the former Webster Elementary School playground to the Seattle Parks Department for $1.6 million. The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. (address here).

For background on the Crown Hill school, read this story in the Ballard News Tribune. PhinneyWood has a good write-up on the proposed sale on Phinney Ridge. And here’s a story from earlier this year on Webster Park.

Climate change education first in Ballard

In a first for the state of Washington, students at Whitman Middle School are learning about global climate change today through a unique partnership. The program, developed by Colorado-based engineering firm MWH, was launched last year and has been rolled out to handful of school nationwide, including ones in Colorado, California and Georgia. The kids are going through a day-long program teaching them about climate change and what they can do about it. While Whitman is the first school in our state to offer the program, other schools plan to follow in the future.

Grass is gone at Ballard High

Over the last few weeks, crews have removed the natural grass at Ballard High School’s athletic field in preparation to install artificial turf.

While artificial turf is much easier to maintain, as we’ve written about before, not everyone is sold on the idea. The $1.65 million project is scheduled to be completed by August, before the football season begins.

By the way, if you’re wondering what happened with Ballard High School’s website, it crashed and burned a couple months ago. So the second-period web design class quickly built this new site (sing along!)

New coaches at Ballard High

Both the Ballard High varsity football coach and the varsity girls basketball coach quit a few months ago, and now there’s word of their replacements. John Bowers, formerly the recruiting coordinator and secondary coach for the Western Washington Vikings, is taking over the Beavers’ football team. And Derek Fulwiler, who was the assistant head coach for the boy’s basketball team at Ballard, is the new varsity girl’s head coach. You may remember, the girl’s basketball team had a historic season, but coach Karen Blair quit in protest because the girl’s team does not have a team room like the boys.

Fundraiser planned for Skillings

A gathering for Joseph Skillings, the Ballard teacher recovering from an attack at a Capitol Hill bus stop, will be held this Sunday afternoon. “Bring your checkbook to make a donation, or bid on one of the silent auction items,” explains the invitation. “All funds collected will be used to make sure Joseph is taken care of during his road back.” The gathering will be held at the Steve Jenson gallery, 1424 10th Ave., beginning at 3:30 p.m. While many of Skillings students would probably like to attend, organizers ask that the gathering be limited to adults. If you’d like more information, please email Will Anderson at the address listed on Skilling’s CaringBridge page here.

Skillings: ‘I was just helping her’

Joseph Skillings, the Adams Elementary teacher who’s recovering from that vicious attack in January, spoke to the media for the first time (watch KOMO video). “I was just helping her,” he said of the attack, when he intervened to help a woman who was being accosted at a Capitol Hill bus stop. Skillings has made incredible progress in his recovery, but his speech is slowly coming back. “I’m working with therapists that are helping me get my… cause my head is a little bit unratched in some areas,” he says, still struggling to get the right words out. “I want to get better and do my job. It’s going to take me a while to get back on board.” Family and friends say they’re organizing a fundraiser and auction on March 16th. More details on that soon. Meanwhile, police have made no arrests in the case.

Adams Elementary kids honor Joseph Skillings

Kids at Adams Elementary set out to fold 1,000 paper cranes tonight in honor of teacher Joseph Skillings, who continues his road to recovery at Harborview Medical Center. (Here’s the significance of the 1,000 paper cranes.) I stopped by the PTA meeting where the kids were folding and coloring, but I was nicely told that the news media was not allowed to attend. (My Ballard is the news media? We don’t know what to say.) Fortunately, Skillings’ friends and family are doing a terrific job updating his condition online. According to the latest entry in his journal, Skillings was able to walk to the hospital cafeteria for the first time. “He ordered food from the cook and ate quite a bit while he talked with friends. Getting away from his room made him really happy. He remembered again how much he missed his class and the other students at Adams,” explains the journal. As for the investigation into his attack, police have made no arrests to date. We’ll keep you updated.