Priscilla Hooke

It’s been 20 years since Newcastle opened its doors. I came from Apollo Elementary with a few teachers who were so excited for this new school, new community, and new adventures. It was my 4th year of teaching first grade, and everything was a learning experience those first few days and even the first couple of years, but I loved every minute of it! I l enjoyed the teachers I worked alongside, the students I taught and the families I got to know. The most important thing to me was not only teaching those students but building positive relationships with them and building that sense of Newcastle community. To this day, those two things of the most important things to me. I love it when former students come back to visit me, or I see them in the outside world. I receive emails and holiday cards from my former students.

Last year, Seth Miller and I had a former student Parker who is a student at TCU stop by and say thank you for all we did. I started tearing up because he said without the teachers at Newcastle, our school, and his family he would not be where is today.

Last week, I was sitting in a professional development with another school and this adult yelled out Miss Lo (my maiden name) and I turned around and I said I know you, but only your 1st grade face! I remembered Allison from Apollo and had her brother Erik at Newcastle. She said to me “This school feels like home and I have so many good memories here.”

These two things are the school experiences that I enjoy the most. I love seeing not only my former students but just what all Newcastle students are up to and how they are living their best lives.

I haven’t taught 1st grade for 13 years but I still hang onto those 1st grade memories.    

In the last 13 years, I’ve transitioned to an intervention teacher (Title LAP) where I work in small groups for reading and now math this year. My main goal continues to be teaching, helping and build positive relationships with students and colleagues.

In the last 20 years, we’ve been through a lot together. As one of the last three teachers remaining from when we opened our doors, we’ve been through 4 principals, countless colleagues and thousands of students. We’ve been through happy, sad and exhausting times professionally and personally but we’ve been there for each other in the last 20 years, as well as our Newcastle community. 

On the last day of school, it’s been a tradition to play The Lion Sleeps Tonight, I always cry when that song is being played. It’s a symbol of all that we’ve accomplished that year and moving forward to the next year! I will always be a Newcastle Lion!


Seth Miller

Roaring for Twenty Years

In May of 2004, about 20 years ago, I interviewed for, and was offered the opportunity to move over to Newcastle to lead the PE program. Christy Otley, our Principal, supported health and fitness in many important ways, and I was honored to move to be a part of this community. Newcastle Elementary was small in numbers, which allowed me more time to help on the playground and lead clubs for kids. I fell in love with our school due to a supportive, caring, and involved community and a staff that always chose to go above and beyond to make school a great place for every student and staff member.

As I’ve aged and grown, I now teach with a bit more emotion and care. I have grown more flexible. I have learned so many different ways to teach and help students improve. I learned that the most important thing is trying to guide each student to be their best self. I promote caring, thoughtfulness, work ethic, integrity, and grit so that each student has the chance to help make our community a better place. During this era in our country, I place quality of character high on my list as the most important part of a person. One of my current joys after teaching this long is having older teen and adult former students come back to connect and share how they are doing. Those visits make me feel like I made a difference and brings me hope. I’d like to share a second recent joy. I currently get to teach two students who are the children of former students! What an honor for me.

As we move forward in the future, I look forward to teaching at Newcastle until I retire. I have always been drawn to tradition and building moments and history. I love making a positive difference in the world and being a positive member of this community. One of my dreams in retirement is for someone to name the gym “Miller Gym.” A second dream would be to turn this teaching position over to a former student who has decided to be a P.E. teacher, and wants to build upon tradition and history here.

To all of our current and former families, I ask you to please accept a huge thank you from me! I thank you for all of your support and understanding through great times and tough, as I’ve grown from young man, to husband, to father during this beautiful 20 year journey. Cheers to many, many more wonderful years and thousands of connections!

With love,

Seth Miller


Mrs. Thomas and Her Lion Adventure

So many memories so here are a few…21 years ago I was on the Core Team to build our school…walking around the “frames and beams” of our school in a hard hat! Convincing the architects that we needed tack-able walls for art displays…spending thousands of dollars on all the things inside our school…putting 500 desks together in the gym…deciding our mascot and hoping for Newcastle Newts! Getting a district moving truck all to myself and 143 boxes...Christy Otley at the helm as our Principal…inventing the first “staff costume” for our PTSA Halloween Carnival (Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head with Mr. Neugebauer)…then more joined to become dominoes, a club sandwich, the Wizard of Oz characters, jellyfish and a box of donuts!...all 400 kids on the playground dancing to prepare for the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival show…did the art work for the event and ended up traveling to Africa that summer with the group that connected all this!...our amazing music teacher Robin Wood and the school wide Folk Life event…and building the enormous Big Rock Candy Mountain in the middle of the hallway! Saying tearful goodbyes as we lost our friends to teacher heaven: Mr. Hunter (5 th grade teacher), Michelle Robinson and Katie Tinnea (Kindergarten Teachers) …the staff flying paper airplanes off the 2 nd floor down to the library, staff cake decorating contests for Dr. Seuss’ birthday…staff playing the Hungry Hungry Hippo game in real life, on scooters in the gym! Families joining in our own version of the Amazing Race…and BEST OF ALL the CHILDREN that have come my way…figuring 20 a year, makes 400 little lions…each one unique, full of adventures, learning and laughing in my classroom world…Happy Birthday Newcastle…cheers to many more!