By Ellie Gottesman
Amid state education budget cuts, new administration and teaching staff, and a growing number of students on Mercer Island, Donna Colosky begins her first school year as Superintendent of the Mercer Island School District.
The MISD Board unanimously approved Colosky as Superintendent on June 22. Colosky replaces Gary Plano who served as MISD Superintendent for the past 10 years.
Colosky has spent the summer learning about Mercer Island and its schools, while re-familiarizing herself with the Pacific Northwest. She grew up in Burnaby, British Columbia, where she nurtured her love of music, especially as a high school student.
“In high school, I participated in choir, advanced choir, and every small singing group I could find,” Colosky said. “Music was just a love and a passion for me.”
The youngest of four children, Colosky was the first to attend and graduate from college.
“Because of the situation with my family, I actually went to community college first and wanted to study music,” Colosky said. “I spent three years at Douglas College because I worked full time while I went to school.”
Later, she obtained her Bachelors of Music from the University of British Columbia. Unsure of where to go with her career, Colosky decided to get her teaching credentials.
“Within the first month of being in the education program, I was sent to a school and put in a classroom,” Colosky said. “I still remember going home to my parents after my first day and saying ‘this is what I was meant to do.’”
At a recruiting fair, Colosky was offered a contract to work at a small school in California. After serving at multiple school districts across California, Colosky was chosen to be Superintendent of the Paradise Unified School District in Paradise, California.
“When I got to the district, they had very little technology access for students,” Colosky said. “It was a high-poverty district.”
Within the first few months, Colosky was able to implement Google Apps for Education. After two years, third- to twelfth-grade students had access to Google Chrome Books.
“For students of poverty, especially those who did not have access to the Internet at home, technology gave them a link to the rest of the world,” Colosky said.
Colosky was motivated to apply for MISD Superintendent because the Mercer Island community strongly supports exceptional teaching and learning.
“A community is only as strong as the people in it,” Colosky said. “My learning curve in the next few months is going to be straight up as I learn about all of you.”
Her goal is to evaluate and make adjustments to fit the needs of students and teachers as time progresses. The 2020 Vision, which outlines the goals and ideals of the MISD, is subject to change.
“Change is inevitable,” Colosky said. “Any strategic plan shouldn’t just be a book on the shelf. It should be something we are constantly reviewing and adjusting.”
Colosky is happy to report her family has already tracked on Google Maps how long it will take to reach her home from British Columbia.
“I moved to California 32 years ago,” Colosky said. “Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, even though it was on the other side of the border, coming here feels like coming home.”