Greetings Meridian Students and Families,

There are three topics I want to share today: youth mental health first aid training, our student school board members, and how we shine the spotlight on our principals in October.

The Meridian School District has been focused on helping our students be successful. There is much in the news about anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges facing our students today. The better equipped we all are at recognizing the signs and helping our students work through difficulties, the better their chance of having positive educational opportunities. We have partnered with the Whatcom County Health Department to provide training for many of our staff and other interested individuals. You are welcomed to attend the training with our teachers. It is free and open to the public.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), suicidal ideation, and eating disorders.

The training is in our professional development room at Meridian High School. This is building F, adjacent to our music room. The training runs from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. You may sign up at this link:

The Meridian School District has a long tradition of having students serve on the school board. We are fortunate to have two outstanding student board members this year: senior Emma Forbes and junior Karissa Benson. They are elected and serve a one year term, unless they are re-elected. Emma served in this role last year. This is Karissa’s first year as a board member. They are invaluable as they provide their perspectives for the board when reviewing programs, discussing events, and considering other aspects of district business at the board level. They have a reserved agenda items to share what is happening at the high school – as well as other areas of the district. The board and district leadership is appreciative of their dedication to attend each meeting and contributes their time and support. Thank you Emma and Karissa!

I want to publicly recognize our amazing principals here in the Meridian School District. We have been highlighting each principal on social media throughout the month. It is an opportunity to recognize them for their long hours and energy dedicated to running their buildings, supporting their teachers and ensuring a positive learning environment. We know not everyone is on social media. Please take a moment to review the information shared by each of our great principals: Jerry Sanderson, principal of Meridian Middle School, Dawn Christiana, principal of Irene Reither Elementary School, Derek Forbes, principal of Meridian High School, and Michelle Siadal, principal of MP3 (Meridian Parent Partnership Program).


Mrs. Siadal grew up in a farm in Eastern Washington and loves the rural, small town feel in Laurel. Mrs. Siadal received her bachelors and masters degrees from Eastern Washington University and her Masters in Educational Administration from Western Washington University. She began her educational career teaching Kindergarten at Irene Reither Primary School and went on to teach 3rd grade and then transitioned to teaching at the Meridian Parent Partnership where she is now the principal.

In her spare time Mrs. Siadal enjoys spending time with her family and friends and supporting her sons sports! She is proud to live in the Meridian School district where both her children attend school. When asked her favorite aspect of being a Meridian Trojan she said, โ€œIt is an amazing opportunity to partner with staff, students and families who are so dedicated to teaching and learning!โ€

Mrs. Siadal working with students at MP3.


Mrs. Christiana grew up as an Army Brat moving 19 times before she was 21 years old. She began her career teaching 2-5th grades. It was working as a teacher on special assignment when she realized she wanted to be able to make decisions for a school and also be part of a learning community that was fun and supported student growth.

She attended the University of Washington for their Danforth Educational Leadership program to become a principal focused on equity and excellence. In her spare time, she enjoys reading research, scrapbooking and country concerts.

When asked what her favorite part about being a Meridian Trojan was she said, โ€œI love that I get to be a part of a community where we can enjoy one another and also learn together to support our studentsโ€.


Mr. Sanderson was born and raised on a farm in Whatcom County. After high school, he served in the military before returning to Whatcom County to work for Georgia Pacific and eventually attend Western Washington University where he received his teaching credentials.

Mr. Sanderson began his teaching career in 1981 at Irene Reither. Prior to becoming the Meridian Middle School Principal Mr. Sanderson taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades in the Meridian School District. Mr. Sanderson has been the Meridian Middle School Principal since 2002! He is proud to say that both of his children attended and graduated from the Meridian School District. In Mr. Sandersonโ€™s spare time he enjoys spending time fishing, hunting and traveling.

When asked his favorite part of being a Meridian Trojan he said, โ€œIt has been an honor to work with so many dedicated and talented educators to serve the students, parents, and community of the Meridian School District. I feel blessed to have met and become friends with so many people in our community, and to have had the opportunity to work with so many children, many of whom I see regularly as they drop their children off at school.โ€


Mr. Forbes was born and raised in Everett, Washington where he developed a passion for education at an early age. He attended school in the district where his grandfather was both a Principal and Superintendent. The stories and memories of the impact his grandfather made on the lives of students and the community as a whole inspired him to want to do the same.

In his spare time, Mr. Forbes enjoys running!

When asked what his favorite part of being a Trojan is he replied, โ€œI love being part of a small school that has a supportive community, fantastic students and a staff at that both individually and collectively responds to student needs in order to help students find success at school and prepare them for lifeโ€™s adventure after graduation.โ€

Join me for Drinks with the Doc on Thursday, November 7th from 6:00 โ€“ 7:00 pm. I will be joined by Dawn Christiana, our new Irene Reither Elementary Principal. We are meeting at Irene Reither Elementary. This is typically informal and follows whatever questions come with our guests. This time, Mrs. Christiana will be prepared to share a bit about her new role as our new Irene Reither Elementary Principal โ€“ and whatever else may surface! We will have coffee and treats โ€“ and look forward to talking with you soon!