Sue Lampman, Administrative Assistant to the Principal, Lowell Elementary School
“I picked up the ukulele about three months ago and I’ve been really playing that quite a bit and doing some lessons. My family’s very musical, so, I spend a lot of time on the phone with them asking about chord progression and that sort of thing. So far, oddly enough, I like the old music. There’s one I’m working on right now, La Vie en Rose, which is a French tune. It just depends what I’m in the mood for that particular day.
My husband and I lived in Bellingham in the 80s and then we decided it would be fun to go on an adventure. He wanted to go back to school and we decided to move to Arizona. When my daughter was born, just after she was ready for kindergarten, I started as a playground duty and from there went part time to reception and then was promoted to principal’s secretary. When we left Arizona just a few years ago I thought, ‘I might as well go back into schools again because I do enjoy it.’ There was an opening for an administrative assistant at Lowell and that’s how I ended up in schools again.
If you give kids the time, they’ll just talk and talk about anything and everything. If I’m having a harder day at school I like to pop into the kindergarten classroom. They’re just so fun and walk up and give you a hug and it just brightens your day. I think the students are just so real and honest and raw, and it’s such a refreshing piece to have in your life.
I think what stands out about Lowell is its age. It has been around for a very long time, sitting on the hill in this community. I always get a kick out of it — generally around this time of year, when people are out doing some traveling, we get people who come into the office who say, ‘you know I went here as a child 50 years ago’ or ‘my grandparents went here’ and they just want to come in and tour the place. I think that’s an awesome part of Lowell — being a part of something that’s been around for so long.
With the school closures it feels like it takes 10 extra steps to get anything done. You can touch base throughout your day when schools in session. But during the closure, you have to reach out by phone or by email and maybe they’re on a zoom meeting and can’t talk to you right then. It just feels like it takes longer to accomplish very simple tasks.
It’s hard; you miss students and you miss the staff and that’s why zoom meetings are so nice because at least you get to see faces.”
Kim Lund, Executive Director of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation
“I had teachers at every grade level that propelled me and believed in me. I feel like when I got to the University of Washington, my time as a student here in Bellingham prepared me to thrive. I’m so grateful for that opportunity and that investment from my teachers and it’s why I wanted to become involved with school foundation so I could give back to the district.
I had generally been a successful math student on my own without needing a lot of additional support but when I got into trigonometry it felt like I was in the peanuts cartoon episode, “blah, blah, blah.” It literally sounded like a foreign language to me. I panicked because it was the first time I was really struggling in math as a student and so I went to drop the class. I brought my teacher, Mr. Wells, the paperwork from the counseling office telling him that I was going to drop. And he turned to the class and said, “Ms. Haaland (which is my maiden name) doesn’t think that she can be successful. We’re all going to make sure that she gets through this together and I’m not signing this paperwork.” I’m so grateful that he didn’t because it would’ve put me on a different track for math. It made me realize that I can struggle and get to the other side, which was so influential for me getting my engineering degree. That was really a transformation for me — I learned so many life lessons by struggling through and persisting in his class.
I ended up going to the UW and getting my chemical engineering degree. I was the first person on either side of my family to go on to higher education.
At the chemical engineering school it was about 25% women 75% men, which is the highest of the engineering disciplines. I did take an electrical engineering course where I was one of three female students out of 180 registered for the class. I actually found it inspiring, and luckily that particular professor reached out to each of the female students in his class and to make sure that we knew that he was available for us.
I always joke that I am a “recovering engineer.” I ended up leaving Intel, where I was applying my engineering background as a process engineer, to go to a dot com start up. The company had five employees when I started and grew to over 200 by the time the bubble had burst. It was kind of like getting an MBA during those several years of crazy growth and I learned a lot of skills that I think have been applicable to my role as executive director of the Foundation.
I’m an avid skier, and in fact, I met my husband skiing. This year will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary and we met when I was working in the ticket booth as a senior in high school at Mount Baker Ski Area.
My daughter is a recent graduate of Sehome High School and just completed her freshman year at Wellesley College in Boston and I think she really thrived at our schools. My son will be a rising ninth grader. I’m super grateful that I get to do high school one more time with one of my kids. It’s a joy to watch that time, the transition from childhood into young adulthood.
The Foundation exists solely to serve as the nonprofit partner for Bellingham Public Schools. When I first became involved with the Foundation as a board member we had $50,000-$70,000 worth of grants to support the district’s priorities. Now we’ve grown to over $700,000 in grants and we support positions like the district grant writer that has brought in millions of dollars of funding for our schools, and the volunteer coordinator who connects thousands of community members more easily. The greatest joy is supporting an individual teacher’s big idea by connecting them to the resources or opportunities that they’re hoping for. This year we did the Think Big student club challenge where we funded $14,000 worth of high school clubs’ big ideas, which was incredibly rewarding.
I love that we make a collective commitment to our children and we invite the community in to be part of that collective commitment. I think the Foundation is a partner and so are donors. ‘We seek to help every child reach their full potential’ is the work that we should all be doing and it’s what inspires me personally when I go to work each day.”