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Preventing Car Prowls


In less than a minute, an experienced car prowler can break into a parked vehicle.

A note from Captain Paul McDonagh: “Don’t leave things visible inside the vehicle no matter what the time of day or how long you will be away. This includes removing/hiding the charger cords so thieves don’t think the phone/GPS/tablet is tucked under the seat. My quick review of recent car prowls (car break-ins) showed visible items inside the passenger areas when the car was broken into.”





  • Take a moment to observe your surroundings when leaving or returning to your car.
  • If your car is stored in a carport or parked near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night.
  • Increase the visibility of parking spaces on residential or business properties by trimming back trees and bushes, and installing motion-detecting lighting.
  • Drivers can help keep thieves out of secure parking garages by taking a few moments to ensure security doors fully close behind them. Contact your building management and advise them to accelerate garage door timers.
  • If you park on the street, choose a well-lit, open space.
  • If you park your car in a dark or isolated area, you can make a request for a new streetlight if there is an existing pole nearby. Call (206) 684-7056 for more information.


File a report by calling the non-emergency number at 206-625-5011, or file one online. When filing a report online or over the phone you do not need to remain at the scene. If you choose to call the non-emergency line, simply ask to report a crime and, if it meets the criteria, the call taker will forward you to an officer who will take your report over the phone. The officer will provide you with a case number. If the crime is still in progress or it is an emergency situation, call 9-1-1 immediately!


Post a Comment | Topics: Climate March at The Valley School, Safety

Madison Valley Music Lessons: Sign Up for Fall 2016


Fall 2016 is almost here, and the annual “fall rush” of new students at The Music Factory is right around the corner. We want to make sure that our current and past students get the time slots which are most convenient for their schedules — we love our students like family, and family comes first!

Call 206-420-3896 or fill out the sign-up form on our website, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that you (or your child) are provided with the widest variety of scheduling options possible. All openings are subject to availability, and supply is limited!




The Music Factory
2832 E. Arthur Place
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 420-3896


Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music

Adam Keeps It Real


You got to admit, it’s kind of cool: teenage clerk grows up to become the shopkeeper. Yep. That’s the classic American dream and Adam Hagan is living it. Adam is the latest owner of historic Madison Park Hardware.

In 2010, Adam purchased the store from the McKee Family who had served the community for over 54 years. Lola McKee, the unofficial Mayor of Madison Park, had a very specific vision for the continuity of the family’s business and Adam fit the bill perfectly. He is a fourth generation Madison Park resident and attended local public schools and the University of Washington. He worked for many years during both high school and college as a clerk in the store. When Scott McKee, Lola’s son, died; Adam stepped right in to help out. After much thought, Lola and daughter Jeri came to the decision that the business was too much for the two of them to manage and it was time to sell. Adam was there to take up the reins. It was a smooth transition.




Adam understands his community and is committed to preserving the store’s familiar and beloved persona. It’s still a family business. Adam’s dad pops in at lunchtime to give everyone a break and his mom keeps the books. Girlfriend Christine is there during the busy Saturdays. Everything one could possibly need is available: gardening supplies, kitchen gadgets, light bulbs, hardware, paint and the uber-popular central aisle full of delightful classic children’s toys including Legos. Customer service is unmatched anywhere in the universe.


Adam describes the community response to the transition:

“When I purchased the business, I think the community was keeping a close eye on what was going to happen with the store. If I were not the new owner, I would have been doing the exact same thing, so I appreciated hearing people’s perceptions. I got questions about inventory as we moved a few things around and found a designated place for everything. People were also curious if we were going to carry the same kinds of things, or if we were going to add any major lines of products. One man even said that he hoped we were not going to put down floor tile to make the store ‘more formal.’ People would come in and say, ‘I don’t know what it is, but something’s different over there,’ as they gestured to an area of the store. In reality, very little has changed. The lighting is better, the store is cleaner and there is a daily effort to keep things organized. We manage over 8,000 different items, so this is a necessity for me. For the most part, people like the more organized look, although some still miss the old way, which was more like a treasure hunt in some areas of the store.”


Adam says that one of his challenges lies in the smallness of the space. Many suppliers require minimum orders that are not in keeping with his business. Still he seems to keep the customers satisfied. At the request of many, he has begun stocking jugs of vinegar to be used as a “natural” cleaning product and herbicide. Requests for earth-friendly products are a trend. Adam tracks customer requests and when they have a source for something and space allows, they try to add the item.

And again, there’s that customer service. Regulars feel comfortable with long-term clerk, Richard, and equally at home with Kim, who works part time. Both are friendly and seem to possess unlimited knowledge about everything the store has to offer. Why would anyone even consider struggling in one of those huge, impersonal and confusing mega-stores?

Although famous in Madison Park proper, perhaps the store is less well known in the wider community of Madison Valley, Montlake, Madrona, and Leschi. It seems that the majority of businesses proliferating in our neighborhoods tend to be banks, restaurants, and gift shops. It is a delightful wonder that a small business, which caters to our everyday needs, still exists.

Asked about what he wants the community to know about the store, Adam says “Just that we’re here, we love to keep our customers happy, and we have three parking places in the back that are always available.”

Ahh! Parking! Let’s see. I need twine, a new measuring cup, light bulbs…


Madison Park Hardware
1837 42nd Avenue East
(at the corner of E Madison and 42nd Ave E.)
Open: Monday–Saturday, 9AM–6PM
(206) 322-5331


7 Comments, Join In | Topics: Local Publicity, People

Choose the Lake Washington Greenway Route


The Lake Washington Greenway organizers need your help to select which route will become the neighborhood greenway between Madison St and Boyer Ave. This is the route that will be engineered to best accommodate bicyclists and pedestrian traffic. After you finish reading the pros and cons, send your choice of route A, B or C to Lauren Squires.

If you have additional comments about car, bicycle, and pedestrian routes north of Madison St please let them know—they’d love to hear your ideas!



Remember, please send your selection to Lauren Squires.


More about the Lake Washington Greenway Route Project

Wednesday night, August 24, Madison Valley residents held a well attended meeting at Bailey-Boushay House regarding this project. Bob Edmiston of Madison Greenways and David Rodgers, a traffic engineer with MIG lead the meeting. 

What is a Greenway? 

A greenway is a route engineered to be bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Our previous article on greenways can be read here. 

What is this project?

This project is to select, and subsequently design, the route that will be the best bicycle and pedestrian connection between East Madison St and Montlake. 

What is the project timeline?



Is there funding for implementation? 

No, this project does not currently have funding for implementation. The community will apply for grants for elements of implementation, and will work to encourage SDOT to incorporate the route improvements into the annual budget in future years. 

How was this process funded?

Residents applied for the 2016 Park and Streets fund, and were awarded grant money to pay the traffic engineer, MIG, for their help. In addition, community volunteers have spent hundreds of hours talking with residents, mapping routes, studying future SDOT/WDOT plans, and counting cars and bikes.

The Data, So Far

To fully understand the traffic patterns in the neighborhood a study was performed this spring. The study measured vehicle speeds, volumes, route slopes, bicycle counts, and more. 

Arterial Streets

This map shows the high-traffic arterial streets through the neighborhood.



Potential Greenway Routes

Again, here we see the three routes being considered as the North/South connection. I have labeled them A, B, and C for easy identification. 

A = 25th Ave
B = 28th Ave connecting to 26th
C = 29th Ave connecting to 26th



Daily Vehicular Traffic

This map shows the number of cars traveling along the three potential routes each day. 28th Ave East has the most traffic, and this makes sense given the traffic light at Madison and the 28th/MLK intersection.



Vehicle Speeds

On this map we can see where cars are traveling fastest.



Daily Bicycle Traffic

The same route that carries the most cars also carries the most bikes. It’s interesting to note Route B is also the Lake Washington Loop Trail — an existing, well-known bike route.



Street Slopes

While Route A has less traffic, it also has the steepest slopes.



To learn more visit:

Project Website:

Arboretum Neighbors for Safer Streets:

SDOT Neighborhood Greenways Program:


Photos from Wednesday’s Meeting






If you have comments and ideas for this project, please share your feedback by sending email to Lauren Squires.


5 Comments, Join In | Topics: Transportation, Safety

520 and Local Street Closures


UPDATE: The closure of 520 has been cancelled.

Plan ahead for a full weekend closure of SR 520 and local street closures from Aug. 26 to 29. Here is the closure map.

SR 520 is scheduled to close from I-5 to 92nd Avenue Northeast between 11 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 and 5 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29. This closure differs slightly from other SR 520 closures as eastbound SR 520 is scheduled to close between I-5 and Montlake Boulevard. Below are the key details about the planned closure.

Eastbound SR 520

* All eastbound SR 520 lanes and ramps from I-5 to 92nd Avenue Northeast, including the Portage Bay Bridge, are scheduled to close.

* Please note that vehicles will not have access to Montlake from I-5 via eastbound SR 520.

* The bicycle and pedestrian path on the new floating bridge is scheduled to close.

Westbound SR 520

* All westbound SR 520 lanes and ramps between 92nd Avenue Northeast and Montlake Boulevard East are scheduled to close.

During the weekend, I-90 and express lanes will be open for alternative routes. Travelers are encouraged to use transit and carpools.

Local Street Closures

Single-lane closures are also scheduled to take place on Montlake Boulevard East between East Roanoke Street and Shelby Street as WABN crews complete grinding and paving work. Crews plan to close single lanes of Montlake Boulevard from:

Friday, Aug. 26 at 9 p.m. to Saturday, Aug. 27 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. to Sunday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. to Monday, Aug. 29 at 6 a.m.

What to expect during the weekend closure:

Removal of a portion of the decommissioned westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Lake Washington Boulevard over SR 520.

Paving and striping on the eastbound SR 520 on- and off-ramps to and from Montlake Boulevard.

Re-striping of the westbound SR 520 lanes on the new floating bridge.

Maintenance of the temporary tolling system.

Lid maintenance at Evergreen Point, 84th Avenue Northeast and 92nd Avenue Northeast.

What to expect Monday morning:

Crews will convert the existing westbound carpool lane to a general-purpose lane farther east on the floating bridge. Doing this allows for a smoother merge farther west where the three westbound lanes on the new floating bridge transition to two lanes on the old west approach bridge.

How to reach us and stay informed during WABN construction:

Call the 24-hour construction hotline (206-708-4657) with pressing questions or concerns.

Email WABN staff with your questions about the project or construction activities.

Join us for our monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Graham Visitors Center.

Visit the SR 520 Orange Page for the most up-to-date information on closures and construction impacts.


Post a Comment | Topics: Transportation, Construction

July 2016 Police Reports


There were 44 incidents in Madison Valley reported to the police during July, more than double the June total. Because the June total was so low, however, the July total only made it into the “low-normal” monthly range. Readers of this series will not be surprised to learn that July’s increase was mostly due to a rebound in car prowls and vehicle theft, which together made up almost half of the July total. There was a burglary and two robbery incidents during July, one of which started as a shoplifting incident.




On July 5 police were called to a restaurant on E. 19th near Roy to investigate a robbery that had taken place around 1 AM on July 4. After entering the building through an unlocked door, the robber entered an office area on the second floor and stole a laptop. Video footage of the burglary enabled a supervisor at the restaurant to provisionally identify the robber as a former employee who had been demoted and fired for performance and attendance problems. The supervisor suspects that the robber stole the laptop because records documenting her firing were contained on that laptop. The manager also indicated that the fired employee had been dating a current employee, and that he believes that the later may have cooperated in the burglary. Police subsequently found that the suspected robber and the current employee currently have the same address and phone number.

On July 9 at about 3:30 AM police were called to 27th and E. Madison to investigate an attempted robbery. When they arrived they found a highly intoxicated victim who told them that a would be robber had thrown a rock at him and then hit him with either a baseball bat or a guitar in an attempt to take his wallet. Although the victim gave different accounts of the incident, police believe that the robber asked the victim for “weed” and became angry when the victim didn’t have any. The victim was unable to identify the robber, but told the police that he thinks the robber is from the Capitol Hill area. The victim was transported to Harborview for treatment of injuries to his left hand and arm.

On July 16 shortly after 8 PM police responded to a shoplifting report at the supermarket on 22nd and Madison. When they arrived, an assistant manager told them that she had observed a shoplifter, described as a black male in his late 20s or early 30s approximately 5′10″ and weighing about 200 lbs., fill a blue/green tote bag with about $1000 worth of merchandise. When he attempted to leave the store without paying for the merchandise, the assistant manager confronted him and asked if he was going to pay for it. The shoplifter told her that he had a receipt, but the assistant manager stated that she didn’t believe him and followed him as he exited the store heading south on 22nd. As she did this, the shoplifter turned around and told her that if she continued to follow her, he would kill her. At this point the assistant manager stopped following him and his offense changed from shoplifting to robbery. Security cameras at the store recorded the incident.


Lowell Hargens is a Madison Valley resident and former University of Washington professor of sociology specializing in the statistical analysis of data.


Post a Comment | Topics: Climate March at The Valley School

Open House on Traffic Safety and Greenways


Mark your calendars to attend an open house on traffic safety improvements and potential routes for a neighborhood greenway connecting the Montlake and Madison Valley neighborhoods.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Bailey-Boushay House
Community Room 2720
E Madison St, Seattle WA 98112

Lake Washington Loop Neighborhood Greenway and Traffic Safety Improvements

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) through the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund are partnering with the Arboretum Neighbors for Safe Streets and Madison Valley Greenways neighborhood groups to study traffic safety improvements and routes for a neighborhood greenway connecting the Montlake and Madison Valley neighborhoods. Join us at our first open house to share you ideas for this study on Wednesday, August 24th. We are eager to hear more from our fellow neighbors who who live, work, shop and play along these streets.

The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan recommends a neighborhood greenway along the Lake Washington Loop in the vicinity of 26th Ave E. and 28th Ave E, between East Harrison and Boyer Ave E. During the summer of 2016, we are studying potential neighborhood greenway routes, identifying traffic safety improvements and developing a conceptual design. This is a neighborhood-lead study and construction is currently not funded.

This is the first of two meetings on the neighborhood greenway. The first meeting shares traffic data and helps us understand where people want to walk and bike and barriers to doing so. At the second meeting we will share the results of technical analysis and public comment and the most promising route with recommended safety improvements.

Seattle is building a network of neighborhood greenways. Greenways are safer, calmer streets for you, your family and neighbors. On streets with low car volumes and speeds they can:

• Improve safety
• Help people cross busy streets
• Discourage cut-thru traffic
• Protect the residential character of our neighborhoods
• Keep speeds low
• Get people to where they want to go like parks, schools, shops, and restaurants




What is a Neighborhood Greenway?

Greenways include speed humps, speed limits of 20 mph, signs to help people find their way, stop signs at streets crossing the greenway, and a combination of flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections. They do not include bike lanes and have minimal if any on-street parking impacts. Each location varies based on the streets unique characteristics.


If you have comments and ideas for this study, please share your feedback with the project team by emailing Lauren Squires at [email protected]

Project Website:

Arboretum Neighbors for Safer Streets:

Madison Park Greenways:

Department of Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Park and Street Fund:


Post a Comment | Topics: Transportation, Safety

Land Use Notices Madison Valley Area, Jul 25 - Aug 18


Here are the Council, OPCD and SDCI Land Use notices within the last three weeks for communities from 18th Ave. to Lake Washington and E Union St. to SR-520.


Scoping Comments — HALA MHA-R Environmental Impact Statement

The HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requires that all new multifamily and commercial developments either build affordable housing units on-site or make an in-lieu payment, based on up zoning. It has been determined this proposal is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is required.

The EIS will consider potential impacts associated with land use, housing and socioeconomics, aesthetics and height/bulk/scale, historic resources, open space and recreation, transportation, public services, and utilities.

Agencies, affected tribes, and the public are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS impacts that are included for consideration. You may comment on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required.

Email comments to [email protected] by 5:00 pm on September 9, 2016 for the comments to be considered. 

Request for Comments


Public Hearing - Seattle 2035

On September 15, 2016, the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee will hear public comments regarding potential Council Amendments to Council Bill 118683 which would adopt the Mayor’s Recommended Comprehensive Plan, known as Seattle 2035, and amend the City’s Land Use Code to implement the plan. The public hearing will be on September 15, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. The hearing will be held in the City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue

The Mayor’s Recommended Plan, Office of Planning and Community Development Director’s Report, and Final Environmental Impact Statement and other key documents are available at Seattle 2035. A list of all potential Seattle City Council Amendments to Seattle 2035 is available on the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee website which also has links to video of presentations and public comment on sections of the proposed plan, and council discussion of amendments. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted through 2:00 p.m. on September 15. Email comments may be sent to Councilmember [email protected] by 2:00 pm on September 15.

Notice of Public Hearing


Public Hearing - Living Building Pilot Program

The City Council is considering amendments to make changes to the Living Building Pilot Program and will hold a public hearing at the Council Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee to take comments on the proposal on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, starting at 9:30 a.m. City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue

The proposed changes are available online on the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee website. Additional information about the Living Building Pilot Program is available on SDCI’s webpage.

Notice of Public Hearing



1715 20th Ave

The second Early Design Guidance Meeting will be held on a proposal to allow a five-story structure containing 156 residential units, 4 live-work units, and parking for 117 vehicles. The proposal also contemplates a contract rezone from NC2-40 to NC3-65. Zone: Neighborhood Commercial 2-40′, Urban Villages Overlay, Scenic View within 500 ft., arterial within 100 ft.

The review will be Wednesday, Sept. 7, 8:00 p.m., Seattle University, 1000 E James Way, STCN 210 - Multipurpose Room #210

Notice of Design Review Meeting


2100 E Madison St

Land Use Application to allow a 6-story structure containing 50 apartment units and 3,800 sq. ft. of commercial at street level. Parking for 20 vehicles to be provided. Existing structure to be demolished. Zone: Neighborhood Commercial 3-65′ Pedestrian, arterial within 100ft., Urban Village Overlay

Notice of Decision


510 19th Ave E

Land Use Application to allow a 4-story building containing 8,500 sq. ft. of medical services on floors 1 and 2. Project also includes 8 apartment units located on floors 3 and 4. Existing 2-story building to be demolished. Zone: Neighborhood Commercial 1-40′, arterial within 100 ft., Urban Village Overlay.

Notice of Application



Land Use Information Bulletins
Property & Building Activity Interactive Map 
Design Review Board

Buildings in Design Review Map

Seattle In Progress

Post a Comment | Topics: Construction

Police and Fire Scanners


Like many in the neighborhood, I heard the sirens of police racing to Madison Park last week. To learn what was happening, we logged into the live broadcast of the Seattle police scanner. 

For over an hour we listened to the reports come in. We followed along as the divers and the row boat were deployed in an effort to find a suspected drowning victim. Thankfully, there was no victim and no one was hurt.


Photo by Matthew Zalewski


Should you ever want to hear what’s happening in the city go here:
Seattle Police Scanner

Also, the Seattle Fire Department maintains a real-time dispatch log on the web that you can view any time to see what’s going on.
Seattle Fire Realtime 911

The website has taken it a step further to include a real time plot on a Google map of recent and active incidents.
Seattle Public 911

The police and fire department asks that you not visit an active crime or fire scene.

A link to the full story regarding the suspected drowning victim, found safe in his home, is here:
Presumed Madison Park drowning victim found safe at home.


1 Comment, Join In | Topics: Climate March at The Valley School, Safety

Montlake Music Festival & Family Night


Montlake Playfield will be filled with music and laughter at the Montlake Music Festival & Family Night.

Pack a blanket, chairs and a picnic or purchase food by Kay Catering and enjoy the summer evening.

The event includes music by Eli Rosenblatt, Mercy Mercy and Pompeii, Bounce Houses, Balloon Artist, Carnival Treats, Food by Kay Catering.



Friday, August 12th
5:30 – 8:30 pm
1618 E Calhoun St


Post a Comment | Topics: Social Events, Music

Music in the Park


Each concert begins at 6:30 PM and ends at roughly 8:00 PM. The concerts are free, and take place on the grass in the Park.




1 Comment, Join In | Topics: Music

Art Walk 2016


The 7th annual Madison Park Art Walk begins on the 9th of September and runs through the 25th. Works from local artists will be displayed in Madison Park businesses. Opening night reception is at Starbucks from 5 to 9.


Poppies by Kimberly Burroughs

Sculpted Rug by Liz Gamberg


Post a Comment | Topics: Holiday Dishes from Cafe Flora, Social Events

Obliteride is Aug 14


On behalf of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, I would like to inform you that participants in the 4th annual Obliteride will be riding through Madison Valley on Sunday, Aug. 14.

We invite you to join in our efforts to end cancer by riding, volunteering or cheering on the riders as they pass through your community. You can find more info at




All routes start at the Fred Hutch campus in South Lake Union and end at Gas Works Park.

All other pertinent details can be found at

Thank you in advance for welcoming Obliteride into your community. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know.

Amy Anderson
Public Relations
Obliteride/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
[email protected]


Post a Comment | Topics: Charity

Shambhala Garage Sale Saturday


Are you doing summer cleaning and removing clutter? Bring the things you no longer want to the Shambhala Center for the AUGUST 13th GARAGE SALE! Proceeds go to fund the Children's Program and the Shambhala General Fund.




Please donate items in good-to-fair and in working condition.

1. Drop off your garage sale items in the marked area at the Shambhala Center between Saturday, August 6 and the day of the sale, Saturday, August 13, by 10:00 AM. Items will be moved to a safe and dry storage place before the sale.

2. Please request special storage for items that are of high value or very large by emailing [email protected] with a description of your donated item.

Donations could include: lawn mowers, cars, and bikes; books, artwork, cameras, musical instruments, LPs, and CDs; current computers, software and electrical devices; kitchen and garden items; tools and shop equipment; furniture, rugs, clocks and lamps; clean linens, towels, blankets and fabric; sewing machines; clothing and accessories; toys, games, sports and camping equipment; meditation supplies, and etc. Cash donations happily accepted.

For more details, visit




Questions? Please contact Robin at [email protected]Thank you for supporting the Seattle Shambhala Center! 

Saturday, Aug 13
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
3107 E Harrison St, Seattle WA


Post a Comment | Topics: Charity

Notable Neighbors: Our Jerry


Dear Neighbors, when I was editing the Valley View Newsletter 10 years ago, I wrote a popular column titled "One of Our Neighbors." The articles told the stories of the everyday accomplishments and interests of our own people. As an effort to rekindle some enthusiasm for knowing about our neighbors, I am revitalizing the column for the Madison Valley Facebook page and the Madison Valley website.  They should appear monthly or thereabouts. Please contact me if you know of someone who would agree to be featured! —Cathy Nunneley


Those of us who have lived in the neighborhood for many decades know Jerry Sussman as a community icon. He has worked as a social activist for most of his 89 years. Jerry was the founding co-president of the current Madison Valley Community Council and savior of the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. He organized our traditional annual spaghetti dinner and rummage sale. Together with his wife, Peggy, the Sussmans were the “go-to” people for getting anything done in the neighborhood. Their home was a hub of community activity for all of us. What dinner parties we had!!




Many of those efforts are in the past. This year Jerry transitioned from a post he has held for many years.

When he retired from a long career in schools around the Puget Sound, Jerry Sussman thought he was through with teaching. However, a call for volunteers caught his attention and he was once again immersed in the class- room. After over twenty-five years, and at the age of 89, Jerry has said a poignant farewell to his students

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union dissolved and our country was flooded with Russians, many of them Jews desperate to flee the ensuing chaos. The United States primarily honored visa requests from applicants who were joining other family members. Many of these immigrants found themselves in Seattle and were anxious to begin life again as useful citizens. However, the Russians lacked an integral factor for an independent life: English language skills. Jewish Family Services put out a request for “English as a Second Language” (ESL) teachers and Jerry volunteered. 

Jerry had had previous experience teaching ESL in our public schools and also taught high school history. His grandparents were Jewish Russian immigrants and this coupled with his extensive knowledge of that country’s history helped him establish a bond with his students. 

Initially, the students were young adults eager to join the work force with acceptable language skills. As they found employment, this population gradually gave way to an older group who wanted to function well in the new society but for many reasons were unable to find jobs. Many of the older immigrants were professionals who did not have acceptable credentials to resume their past jobs in this country. Physicians, musicians, engineers, and scientists were among Jerry’s pupils. 

Jerry found that all his students had some English language education in the Soviet system. They knew the alphabet and understood the basic structure of English. However, they lacked vocabulary and grammar skills and their heavy Russian accents made it difficult for them to be understood. 

To build vocabulary, Jerry encouraged discussion of the students’ experiences in the Soviet Union. They had great fun recounting their childhoods. More seriously, the men told stories of World War II and their time as soldiers in the Red Army fighting the Nazis. Everyone had a tale to tell of life in the Soviet era. Education and housing were guaranteed but they all experienced widespread anti-Semitism. Fear of the secret police made any political discussion dangerous. There was no tolerance for dissent. 

Life in the American city of Seattle has also been a topic of great amusement. The students were often baffled by American liberalism especially concerning the upbringing of children. As with many other immigrant cultures, the Russians felt that Americans are too lenient and that the young are far too independent. 

Jerry and the students read books together, especially ones that chronicle immigrants journeys in American. They appreciated the shared experience and the points of discussion it engendered. 

After 25 years, Jerry has grown old along with his students. Several have passed away. The few remaining students are now all in their late 80s and beyond, and the group has become an extended family to each other. Children, grandchildren and life’s everyday tribulations are shared. In this way, their lives have become intertwined. 

The Russians’ “school year” coincided with the Seattle district’s and Jerry’s students put on a great lunch in June to celebrate the end of each term. The women cooked a multitude of traditional dishes loading the table with Russian specialties. The musicians played their old favorites and sang folk songs. This festive luncheon was their way to pay tribute to Jerry for his steadfast commitment to them over the years.

He had become one of them. 


3 Comments, Join In | Topics: People

Police Investigating Madison Valley Homicide


A homicide on East Arthur Place is being investigated, but details are sparse at this time. The Capitol Hill blog has the story to date:

UPDATE: The Times reports that a woman was shot in her home.

UPDATE 2: Background on the victim:






Post a Comment | Topics: Climate March at The Valley School

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