Recent loss to our community; resources for families and staff

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear families, staff and community,

(Please note that this message will discuss the sensitive topic of domestic violence.)

We recently shared with our staff and with our Sunnyland families about the tragic loss of Sunnyland’s Lynn Heimsoth, known as Principal Lynn. Lynn was a beacon of light and positivity with a heart for children. Our hearts go out to each and every person who loved Lynn—her family, her students, her staff, her colleagues and her friends. Her light is gone too soon, along with that of her dog Sukha, a trained therapy dog and a beloved member of the Sunnyland community.

I know many are wondering about next steps with the leadership of our school as well as what your children can expect on their first day back to school. Sunnyland families, please expect a follow-up email about the first day(s) back later this week.

For Sunnyland’s leadership: we are working on a number of possible supports both short-term and long-term.  Starting immediately, I have asked Amy Berreth to step in as principal.  Amy is the current dean at Sunnyland and is well known and respected by students, staff and the community.  Lynn held Amy in high regard as she mentored her over the past years, and I believe Lynn would be supportive and honored to know that Amy will be continuing the work that she led.  I have also asked Brian Pahl to serve as dean while still supporting staff with technology professional development.  Brian is a long-time Sunnyland staff member, part of our district Aspiring Administrators Program and is another well-respected colleague in our district.  Additional supports will be also be put in place over the coming days and weeks to ensure Sunnyland is well cared for.

Lastly, now that more information has been released by law enforcement and has been in the media about the circumstances of Lynn’s death, we want to follow up with a message sharing resources about domestic violence. We know this is a topic that is difficult for adults to read and talk about, not to mention discuss with our children; however, we also know it touches everyone’s lives, and it is preventable. We also know from working with our families and students that it affects far too many in our community. Whether experienced as ongoing or a one-time impulsive act, more than zero is too many.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can contact the following local resources for free, confidential support:

  • Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services: 24-hour Help Line: 360-715-1563, Email: info@dvsas.org.
  • Lummi Victims of Crime: 360-312-2015.
  • Bellingham Police: You can call anonymously at 360-778-8611, or go online at cob.org/tips.
  • WWU Consultation and Sexual Assault Support Survivor Advocacy Services: 360-650-3700 or wp.wwu.edu/sexualviolence/.
  • Brigid Collins Family Support Center: 360-734-4616, brigidcollins.org.

Resources for talking with children about death and tragedy:

Resources for talking with children about personal and relationship safety:

Please reach out for help if you are experiencing violence or lack of safety in your home. We love our families and our students, and we want you to be secure.

We will continue to support our Sunnyland staff and families at this difficult time. Thank you to those who have already shared their love and support; it is greatly appreciated. As I said earlier, families can expect a message later this week regarding our plan for the first day(s) back to school.

Sincerely,

Greg