Aaron Swartzman’s student, Hayden Richardson, 8, poses with his project on the Ballard Bridge. Photo by Sarah Radmer

Aaron Swartzman’s student, Hayden Richardson, 8, poses with his project on the Ballard Bridge. Photo by Sarah Radmer


Pacific Publishing Company’s (PPC) Annual Manual publicationhelped students throughout Seattle learn more about what makes Seattle and its neighborhoods unique. 

The Annual Manual publishes yearly and covers the highlights of most of the neighborhoods in the city. (PPC also publishes the Queen Anne & Magnolia News.)

Three third-grade teachers at Lawton Elementary School (4000 27th Ave. W.) — Aaron Schwartzman, Lyon Terry and Tessie Wong — used the Annual Manual as one of the primary resources for their Seattle neighborhoods social studies unit. 

The unit started the second week of October and finished up around Thanksgiving. This is the first year doing the unit, which is centered around the questions “What makes Magnolia Magnolia?” and “What makes Seattle Seattle?” 

The unit has a social studies component, looking at communities, and a geography component because the students used maps to learn about the different parts of Seattle. The classes started the unit with maps of Magnolia and then Seattle. The students labeled landmarks and natural and cultural resources, and used the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website to identify “What makes Magnolia Magnolia?” 

Terry invited Magnolia Historical Society co-president Monica Wooton to talk to his class about the history of Magnolia. The students concluded Magnolia was kid-friendly because of its schools, parks, playgrounds, beach and shopping. They decided places like downtown weren’t as kid-friendly because they didn’t have as many of those same resources, Terry said. 

The students then made a timeline, using information from Historylink.org, to talk about all of the major events in Seattle. Then they learned about all of the neighborhoods and the features Seattle has that make it a unique city. 

For their final project, the students created a short research report and art project to explain one of those features. The great fire, World’s Fair, Seahawks, Space Needle and Microsoft were popular choices. 

For this portion, they used PPC’s Annual Manual, which Terry found in the hallway at the school. 

“[He] brought it in and said, ‘Hey, this is perfect,’” Wong said, “because it covers all of the neighborhoods.” 

One of the challenges of city-specific units like this is that there aren’t many resources, Terry said, especially ones that are accessible to third-graders, Swartzman added. 

Localized education

Swartzman’s student Hayden Richardson, 8, did his project on the Ballard Bridge. He made a poster and created a Lego model of the bridge. Richardson wanted to do the bridge because he travels across it often and wanted to find more out about the bridge works. 

The bridge makes the neighborhood unique, he said; as for Seattle, the Space Needle makes it special. 

“Not a lot of cities have monuments,” he said. “Seattle has a monument, so that’s why I think it is a unique city.”

In Wong’s class, Mila Sadder-Miller and Mollie Davis did their project on Pike Place Market.  Sadder-Miller agreed that the Space Needle makes Seattle unique, along with the Ballard Bridge and the Fremont Troll: “I love to climb on his head, but my mom gets scared and makes me get down,” she said. 

The teachers hope the students gain perspective on their neighborhood and city, beyond just their own house and school. 

“I’m a strong believer in localized education,” Swartzman said. “I think probably the minority of my students were able to pick up on it, but it’s this idea that, ‘Where I live is unique, and it has shaped who I am.’” 

Engaging potential students

The Annual Manual is also helping to bring future students to some of University of Washington’s (UW) graduate programs. 

Gitana Garofalo is the graduate program adviser for the Department of Biostatistics inside the School of Public Health. Each year, Garofalo requests 50 Annual Manuals to show recruits. She brings the publication to national and international conferences and uses it as an outreach tool. 

It’s difficult to pull the information together about the different neighborhoods, Garofalo said. When she came across the Annual Manual, she realized it had a “very fresh, crisp, fun, highly visual look at Seattle.”

The Annual Manual shows the students the unique personality of each neighborhood, which helps because it’s “hard for people to imagine themselves living here.” Seattle is an expensive city to live in, Garofalo said, which adds an extra hurdle to attracting students. 

The field of biostatistics is extremely competitive, she said. The department has 92 master’s and doctorate students, who come from across the country and abroad, many from Asian countries. When students are looking for schools, they often look for a financial and academic fit. 

“They forget about that social fit,” Garofalo said. “If you’re not healthy and engaged, you have problems that spread across your life. Seattle is a very healthy to live in and really yields a population of people who are incredibly active and engaged.” 

Having the students and graduates here “really benefits our economy,” Garofalo said. Many master’s students stay in Seattle and work at places like the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

“I think the city and inhabitants need a publication like this to stay together and maintain an important aspect of the city,” she said, “which is that high level of engagement.” 

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