SSIA implements new programs to bring local students together

Sister Schools in Action (SSIA) is a nonprofit organization aimed at bringing all seven schools in the Magnolia and Queen Anne neighborhoods together. Lisa Moore, executive director of SSIA, says that several new programs are in development and will be implemented when school resumes after spring break.

These include a new debate program in which fourth- and fifth-graders work alongside the debate society from the University of Washington. Children will have the opportunity to discuss relevant topics in the community and will participate as guest judges for UW students.

Another program will allow children to "job-shadow" several businesses in the area. Similar to an internship, this entails students at the eighth-grade level being assigned to a company and learning how the business is run.

"It will provide them with some real life experiences," Moore said. Participating businesses and organizations in the area include HomeStreet Bank, Queen Anne Helpline and Horowitz Training West.

With impending budget cuts for schools, the possibility of cutting back new programs is a real threat. However, with SSIA, schools can work collectively to develop new programs on minimal funds.

For one instance, a new music program is in development. A music teacher has been hired and all schools in the Magnolia/Queen Anne area will have equal access to this new program.

SSIA is also seeking math tutors. Currently, about 37 tutors from around the community volunteer their time to help children excel in mathematics. "There was even a man who called all the way from Brazil to help out," Moore said.

There is already a strong outreach, but SSIA is always looking for more tutors. No experience in tutoring is necessary; even if teaching math seems foreign, there are workshops available if needed. "Remember," Moore said, "you're teaching elementary math, which could be addition and subtraction."

Also in development is the new World Cultures and Languages program, which will expose children to a variety of other cultures by integrating games and online interaction with other children across the globe. Students, under adult supervision, will use classroom computers to communicate in English with other Spanish-speaking students in Argentina. All students will collectively work with one another to further develop their understanding of other cultures and world languages. The program seeks to broaden students' knowledge of global issues.

If you would like to volunteer as a math tutor, or if you would like any other information on SSIA, e-mail or

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