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Edmonds students spend summer fighting for beloved teacher's future

Students are fighting to save their beloved teacher Ms. Powell from Edmonds School District layoffs.

EDMONDS, Washington — While other kids are spending summer by the water or working a part-time job, a group of kids in Edmonds is already thinking about the next school year — with one particular teacher in mind. 

"I'm inspired to be an educator because of the example Ms. Powell has set for me," said Meadowdale High School student Victoria Forguson.

Katie Powell is in her fifth year teaching English and Drama at Meadowdale. But to her students, Ms. Powell is more than just a teacher. 

"It's kind of corny, but to say she's like my second mom is kind of accurate," said recent Meadowdale graduate Oliver Greenleaf.

Powell has taken the school's Drama department to new heights and inspired her students in ways that few can.

She was also one of 38 teachers laid off by the Edmonds School District this spring because of budget shortfalls.

Forguson ran to her beloved teacher's room when she heard the news.

"I knocked on the door and we sat and we cried and we hugged and we talked about what we were gonna do," she said.

What the students decided to do was mount a rebellion.

They organized walkouts and lobbied the school board. In fact, they've attended every school board meeting since the May announcement, demanding Ms. Powell's reinstatement.

"This isn't just for us," said senior Audrey Davies. "I want the incoming freshmen to understand that. I want them to experience Ms. Powell, but if she's gone, they can't."

Exactly which teachers may or may not be laid off is not yet set in stone. Administrators are waiting for retirements or transfers to determine if any on the list can be saved.

Those decision will be made sometime in August.

In the meantime, the students continue attending those board meetings, hoping their passion can make a difference.

"She taught us to fight for what we believe in, and that's what we're doing," said Greenleaf. 

"If she wasn't so amazing, if she wasn't so involved maybe we'd be okay with it, but her influence was so powerful, we had no choice but to do something. We're not going away," Forguson said.

When contacted by phone on Tuesday, Powell was “beyond proud” of her students, saying, “It’s very fulfilling to see them advocating for themselves and what they believe in.”

UPDATE: The students attended another Edmonds School Board meeting on the evening of Tuesday, July 9. They spoke on behalf of Ms. Powell and her impact on their education. The district tells KING 5 that no decisions on her future or the other positions have been made at this point.