Superintendent Colosky Reflects On Her Time With MISD

Colosky meets with MIHS’ Black Student Union. Photo Courtesy Ian Henry.

Colosky meets with MIHS’ Black Student Union. Photo Courtesy Ian Henry.

Kyle Gerstel, Staff Writer

After five years, Donna Colosky is stepping down from her position as Mercer Island School District Superintendent. The following excerpts are from a recent interview with The MIHS Islander in which she discussed her accomplishments, regrets and lessons she hopes to share with her successor, Dr. Fred Rundle:

On incorporating student input:

The community needs to hear and elevate student voice. [That] doesn’t mean we can always do exactly what students want, students may think they want or students may want in a certain way, but we need to hear their voices.

My [Superintendent Advisory Board] has representatives from every school, including the elementary schools. One of the [topics] that came up pre-pandemic was the technology tools that were in the high school and really listening to what the students felt were inadequate tools, what would be better tools and bringing in our Director of Technology to listen as well.

On prioritizing the health of students:

We value the whole child, so it’s not just about what are the academic offerings, but how we’re making sure we’re taking care of our students’ social-emotional and mental as well as physical health, particularly during the pandemic.

I do not see social-emotional/mental health as an isolated piece. It has got to be embedded in everything we do, it can’t just be these isolated lessons at elementary, or Gator Time at [the] middle school, or Islander Hour. The real work is all staff members engaging in building those relationships and that caring environment that everyone feels welcome in.

On Mercer Island culture:

My favorite thing about the Mercer Island community is that it really does have what I call a small-town feel. It’s a very compassionate community; people care for each other. I think it was really evident during the pandemic, how the community came together and really did show that caring community.

On the flip side, sometimes that small-town feel can also be a negative, in that everyone knows everyone’s business because it’s a small town and sometimes that [bubbles] over in a negative way. My biggest concern is a local social media platform that people are using for their information and it’s not accurate.

On the importance of keeping up with the times:

The world is changing so fast. The jobs that kindergarteners will have, the careers that they will have have not only not been created yet, they haven’t been imagined.

On her advice for Rundle:

Stay humble and listen to the students. Make sure you’re hearing the students.