We are thrilled to announce and give a warm welcome to Dr. Art Jarvis, the new interim Superintendent of the Bellevue School District and the newest member of the Bellevue LifeSpring Board of Directors!
The tradition of Bellevue School District Superintendents joining our board of directors symbolizes the close partnership between the district and Bellevue LifeSpring. The school district helps Bellevue LifeSpring identify the most urgent needs for Bellevue students from low-income homes so that we can effectively fill the gaps in needs and services and. Together, we work hand in hand to ensure all Bellevue students have their basic needs met so that they can succeed and make it to graduation day.
We are grateful to Dr. Jarvis for continuing this tradition and nurturing this vital partnership.
Meet Dr. Jarvis
Dr. Jarvis began leading the district in May of this year. He has extensive experience as a leader in education, working with school districts, staff, students, and families. After earning his B.A. in Education, M.A. in Special Education, and Ed.D in Educational Administration from the University of Washington, Dr. Jarvis has served as Superintendent in the Tacoma, Enumclaw, and South Whidbey school districts.
“I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest since I was eight years old. My entire career has been in Washington State. So, I’m a true north-westerner,” shared Dr. Jarvis. “It’s a beautiful place that I love.”
Most recently, he has served as the Interim Superintendent in the Shelton, Renton, and Peninsula school districts. He has twice been named the Washington State Superintendent of the Year.
In his spare time, Dr. Jarvis enjoys reading, athletics, numismatics, golf, and spending time with family and grandchildren.
Dr. Jarvis sat down with us to share how the school year is going so far and why he values the school district’s partnership with Bellevue LifeSpring.
Bellevue schools opened for in-person learning this year after 18-months of remote learning. How was the start of the school year?
There are certain dates that will stick with you forever — events where you will never forget what you were doing and where you were when they happened. For the schools and many of us, March 12, 2020, is one of those days because it’s the day schools closed statewide for pretty much the first time in history.
Fast forward to September 1, 2021, when I rang the bell at Stevenson Elementary to welcome the students back for a new school year. This day will forever ring in our memory as the day we brought the kids back after a year and a half of being closed. I’ll probably spend this entire year celebrating the opening and smiling at the fact that we were able to do it successfully!
Together, our schools have demonstrated that we can continue to operate amid this ongoing pandemic. We will continue to face challenges, but the bottom line is that our start to this new year was successful. It’s been a pleasure to have the schools open.
Why are community partnerships, like the one between the school district and Bellevue LifeSpring, important for Bellevue schools and students?
Interfacing with the broader community and connecting with community partners help our schools meet our students’ broad range of needs. During my career, I’ve learned that school districts trying to be a super agency and take care of everything for a child and their family doesn’t work well. We are good at providing schools, education, and instruction, but we are not as good at figuring out how to deal with the complex issues that children and families face. It’s imperative that we work with community partners like Bellevue LifeSpring to help fill in the gaps of services for our students. When our students have the support they need, they can be successful.
Now that school is back in session, what do you see as the main challenges for students from low-income households?
This year, given the current crises, we are not assuming that everyone has the income to send their children to schools. We’ve been working hard to ensure school is still assessable for families facing economic challenges. Lunches are now free for every student, and we also minimized the fees and the amount of school supplies needed for the start of school.
The rent crisis and the lack of affordable housing is a significant challenge for many of our students. I worry about our families that may not be able to keep up with rent once the rent moratorium is lifted. I worry about what will happen to some of our students and families as they find themselves unable to stay in their homes because they have past due rent. We see kids being successful in school, but I worry about what’s to come as families continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19.
What are your hopes for the coming school year, and how can our community members help make this year a great one?
Bellevue is an excellent example of an abundant community with organizations, businesses, and people invested in helping the schools and helping our students succeed. I like to envision a community as an intricate wall tapestry. If I had a wall tapestry, I would want it to be vibrant with different colors and designs. I don’t think you could get a better community tapestry than Bellevue. We are a minority-majority community, and we have people from all over the world with a beautiful mixture of families, religions, and languages. My hope is that our wonderful school district continues to reflect the beautiful community of Bellevue.
During the pandemic, I think we all learned to be flexible and to have grace for one another, and I would ask our community to continue to do this. Help one another and help support our partner organizations like Bellevue LifeSpring, so our students have the critical support they need this coming year.
Thank you, Dr. Jarvis, and thank you to the Bellevue School District teachers and administrators for all your hard work in re-opening our schools and keeping our students safe.
To provide support for Bellevue’s students from low-income households, you can donate today.