Principal’s Blog2016-12-09T21:22:36-07:00

Principal’s Blog


New Principal Podcast: Work Based Learning Flag Project Interview with John

Work-based learning at WSSB is an integral part of our school’s curriculum. In this interview with John, one work-based learning project is highlighted the contribution to our school community.  This is my first attempt at this type of format and using this platform. I hope you enjoy and please send me any feedback or suggestions for the future at


Sean McCormick: Hello, I am Sean McCormick, Principal of the Washington State School for the Blind. And you are joining me on Being and Principle where we get to explore the inner workings of WSSM and what makes our students and the school just a fantastic place to grow and learn. In this interview with John we get to get into his project for work-based learning where he has developed a plan and project to support enriching the entire school community. And it’s something that will last beyond his tenure at the school. I hope you enjoy listening to this interview and without further ado here is the interview with John from work-based learning.

Sean McCormick: All right, so this is Principal McCormick here with John. And I am asking him some questions about his new project that he has been working on through work based learning and really spreading some cultural love here at WSSB. So John, tell me three things that every student should know about you.

John: I guess I should start with hi, my name is John. I am a sophomore and I go to school at WSSB.

Sean McCormick: How did you come to decide to work on this flag project? And before you get into how you decided, tell us a little bit about, or in this process, tell us a little bit about the project itself.

John: The flag project is the international flag project. It was not really my idea, it was Mr. Lowry’s idea so I just kind of went off it and proceed as wanting to do it so basically that’s it. But I think it’s really interesting because we have all these different, even though we’re a small community we have all these different people from different parts of the world. So we can express our love and connection for each of them in those other countries you know if that makes any sense?

Sean McCormick: It makes total sense to me. I think it’s super awesome. I am really excited that you are taking this project and you’ve come up with a design for where those flags go. You did the survey to find out where the background of our students exists in the world. So you’ve done some of the research on that. And I really, really love that we’ll be able to display and celebrate the diversity that’s here at WSSB.

Sean McCormick: How did you decide which flags you’d get since there are so many different backgrounds that might be from the WSSB? How did you decide how many different flags we’d get and what countries we’d get them from?

John: We went off, basically everybody kind of like, so it’s like we asked where you’re from, the students. We mainly asked students. And we asked them where are you from. And if they say they’re from the U.S. we ask where did your parents come from or where did your grandparents come from, and that’s as far as went. If their grandparents are from some other country we just put that because that’s part of their family culture you know.

Sean McCormick: So this is just for students, student themselves, their parents or their grandparents are from other countries?

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: That’s so cool. Well, when do you expect for us to be able to check these flags out when they’re on the wall? Any guesstimates?

John: I’m not sure but I hope soon.

Sean McCormick: I hope soon as well.

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: Now, flags are pretty flat and not that accessible so how do you plan on displaying these flags so that everybody can experience them?

John: We have a description of each flag and a little bit of history about them underneath like each flag. We have like little descriptions of them and the history. But the next step we are planning to do is to have tactile flags so feel what the flags feel like. Have tactile flags so like the flags will be able to, I don’t know, feel with, I just, yeah.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, you can feel them with your hands.

John: Feel them with your hands, yeah.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, with touch. I hope that we’ll be able to make every flag accessible for all of our students. And then when students go to experience these flags where are they going to find them?

John: They’ll be able to find, the wall, there’s this wall and we hang the flags. We have the description directly underneath of a big flag. It will be right in front of Mr. Baldwin’s classroom and on the wall outside the library.

Sean McCormick: So that hallway across from Mr. Lowry and Mr. Baldwin’s room?

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: That long stretch on the north side of the building?

John: Yeah, like the wall of the library basically.

Sean McCormick: Okay, the outside wall of the library?

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: Cool. Well, I hope we’re able to do this pretty soon. Get those flags up and get to celebrate everybody’s background, heritage, and the diversity of WSSB.

John: Okay.

Sean McCormick: Going forward, you’re not going to be at WSSB forever.

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: What are your hopes for the future of the flag project after you’ve gotten it started?

John: I hoping that we will continue doing the flag project so we ask each year every student, every new student or every exchange student, where they’re from so we can hang their flag up and represent them. I hoping to have like a survey they can fill out this form and stuff like that.

Sean McCormick: And how many different countries, or can you name some of the countries the flags are from?

John: We have in total fourteen. They range all the way from Micronesia to Mexico to China to Canada, Iraq, Ireland, Palestine, and plenty more.

Sean McCormick: That’s great. Is there a flag that represents your background?

John: Yes, it’s China, the Chinese flag.

Sean McCormick: Very cool. Can you describe the Chinese flag for us?

John: It’s red and with five stars in the right corner. The biggest star, there’s five big stars and they each represents the freedom, I think. And the red represents the war between Japan and China, of the blood of the army people. So that’s basically it. It also means, the love for the red and, carry the spirit, like the bad spirit from the red part. And the yellow part is like the luck and like wealth for China, for gold, gold is yellow you know.

Sean McCormick: Well, that was a great description of that flag that I did not know the history of, so thank you.

John: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: Well, I wish you good luck on the rest of this project. And I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me and describe this work you’ve been doing.

John: Yes, thank you for having, making this possible.

Sean McCormick: Absolutely. All right. Thanks.

Sean McCormick: I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to this interview and please join me in the future for upcoming shows where I get to interview students, staff, and jump into some of the concepts that make our school just a wonderful place for learning and growing. Until next time, signing off, this is Sean McCormick. Thanks.


WSSB Video Release: We Love Our School

WSSB is proud to release a video highlighting the On-Campus Programs at WSSB.  The video is titled, We Love Our School.  There is so much to celebrate about our school.  Students are the most essential part of WSSB.  In addition, WSSB staff, families, volunteers, and the entire WSSB community make WSSB an incredible place for students that are blind or visually impaired to learn and grow.
This video is based on a real letter written by a parent of a student to the principal.  Audio description is privileged in this 11-minute documentary style video about WSSB.
We truly hope you enjoy it!

(WSSB) We Love Our School



Our Students, Our School

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog and had it on my to-do list, but I couldn’t quite get the recording together that I had planned.  I’m looking forward to a full 4-day week at school with our incredible students.  I love WSSB and feel so lucky to be principal.  In this post, I’m sharing a message I sent WSSB’s on-campus staff (residential, education, health center) on February 19th.

On Campus Team,

There is nothing I can say that will make the impact of last week’s school shooting in Florida any less tragic or any event to highlight this week that will seem more important than the innocent students’ lives lost.  The value of grades, a science lab, cooking lesson, or math class doesn’t even come close to the same galaxy for comparison.

We have an obligation to keep our students safe.  I will do everything in my power to continue to strengthen our systems and climate to ensure that we have the best place for our students to learn and grow.  It is vital that we embrace our shared commitment to student needs, each other, and the belief that we are one team.

I’m asking for your courage to keep us strong for our students. Remember your craft and why you show up each day. It’s for our students.  It’s your bright light that shines on others that makes a positive impact in our school. Our students show up for the opportunity we create together for them.  That is our responsibility.  You matter so much to our students.  I cannot thank you enough.

Sean McCormick, WSSB Principal


One Word 2018

Transcript of audio:
The WSSB Principal’s Blog.  Dare to be better.

Sean McCormick: Welcome, welcome.  Thank you for joining me on this audio blogcast.  I am really excited to share with you some different voices in this episode regarding “What is one word you would use to describe 2018 for you.”  So, I went around and started asking students on the day we got back from winter break, instead of asking their resolution, I wanted to know one word that will represent 2018 for them.  And, they started giving me some really great answers.  So, I hit the record button on my phone, of course with consent.  About halfway through, some students started asking, “what are staff saying?” So, I made it my mission to get as many staff as possible to contribute their one word.  I was unable to get everybody, but I think the ones that I got and am able to share with you today are going to be pretty awesome.  So, I’m really glad you’re joining me on this and I hope that your one word is one that sticks with you for 2018. Well, I hope you enjoy.

Student and staff stating:

“My One Word for 2018 is…”









































Sean McCormick:
Thank you for listening and thank you for all those that contributed.  I promise to do my best to capture those people that I missed with their one word, with a new question, a new topic, for next time.  Until then, this is your Principal, Sean McCormick.  Sayonara.



Hope and Optimism

January 3rd 2018 Hope and Optimism

It’s 2018 and I’m embarking on a new adventure.  It’s reawakening my blog with the addition of an audio file.  Please check it out and let me know what you think.  Below is the transcript of the recording.

Hi, this is Sean McCormick, principal at WSSB and you are listening to my audio blogcast for the week of January 3rd, 2018.  Yes, it’s the middle of the week, but for us it’s a short week for us.  Happy New Year everybody.  So, hope and optimism is something I’ll be talking to you about in this blogcast.   And, this is something that I really value and think it’s one of the core elements how we grow, look ahead, learn, and so forth.

There’s a lot to love about the New Year. Even if the school year doesn’t line up with the calendar, it provides an excellent opportunity to return to learning with a bit more fire in your step. For me, it’s invigorating to be more courageous with each day, take risks with new challenges, and allow my heart to lead the way. It feels good to have a chance to start over, even when you’re still getting older. It’s kind of like finding a favorite record (or song) that you haven’t heard in long while, or putting on a favorite t-shirt that was stuffed in the back of the dresser drawer.

Having something in your heart that you can look forward to and lean into each day is called hope. It’s not always easy to be hopeful in every situation, but the choice to be optimistic is always available. Optimism is like M&M sized moments of hope. The more you have, the more you can share. I hope you choose optimism in your day and share those moments with your friends, family, teachers, and people in your life. It’s a new year for new challenges and choices.

Will you choose optimism? Thanks for listening (reading) and happy New Year!


Dare To Live Your Dreams…

Dare to live your dreams is the first line in the poem “Dream” by Robert Smithdas. Recently, Smithdas was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the American Printing House (APH) for the Blind’s annual meeting a couple of week ago. He wasn’t honored for his poetry, although he was National Poet of the Year in 1960, nor was he honored for overcoming obstacles as someone who is deafblind. Smithdas was recognized for his profound impact on the lives of others, including his work improving the lives and opportunities for those that are deafblind. His kindness and compassion encouraged individuals to live their dreams.
While attending APH’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky I was surrounded by individuals that inspire me to live my dreams. This type of inspiration is contagious. Each moment spent with the creative leaders in our field lifted my confidence and inspired me to always do my best every day.
I dare to live my dreams as a principal, a father, a son, a husband, and friend. I dare you to live your dreams.