Working together we increase student opportunities
On Monday, Jan. 30, I shared the district’s commitment to serving all of our students. Through positive, intentional partnerships with educators, community organizations, and families, I know we can support the unique strengths and needs of every child in our care.
Every day our educators, staff, and community partners extend themselves just a little further to meet the needs of our students.
A recent partnership between two elementary schools North Beach and Northgate and Mary’s Place, a local nonprofit that helps address the basic needs of families experiencing homelessness, provide an inspiring example.
The librarian at Northgate, Kate Eads, discovered that 25 percent of her students are currently experiencing homelessness and that a number of children are temporarily living at Mary’s Place. Kate was curious about the reading materials available to students after school and so she visited Mary’s Place Kids Club.
She discovered that many of the donated books were woefully outdated and were often left unread because they didn't appeal to the children. Recognizing that students fall in love with reading when they have books that interest them, she made a plan.
Working in collaboration with the North Beach librarian, Kristine McLane, they partnered with families to raise funds for a Mary’s Place book collection. Not only did the two librarians nearly triple their financial goal, 5th grade students at North Beach helped prepare the books for delivery. A few of the books to be donated are pictured above.
On Feb. 2, the books will be delivered in time for Mary's Place first Thursday Story Time, a weekly session developed by Kate in December 2016.
I will join story time at Mary's Place, where I am honored to connect with students, as well as celebrating not only the great gift these librarians have given our students, but their dedication to our community.
While this is just one example of a positive partnership, it is reflective of many of the stories I hear when visiting schools. In the article below, you'll read more about examples of how partnerships are boosting student achievement.
A willingness to partner, is grounded by a belief that opportunities are everywhere and that by working together we can realize something greater for our students and community.
One of the books I recently shared with staff, titled "Believe" by Dan Zadra, is a book of great quotations to inspire and encourage. All of us need encouragement at times. Read more about this book. Here are just a few of my favorite thoughts from Zandra's book:
Believe that opportunity is everywhere
Believe that you are blessed
Believe in second chances
Believe the best is yet to be
Thank you for trusting Seattle Public Schools with the education of your child. These next few months, as the State negotiates basic education funding, and what it means for our district, will be difficult on our educators, families, and staff. I wish it wasn’t necessary.
If you ever have questions or concerns, you may contact me directly at Larry.Nyland@seattleschools.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for the privilege of serving Seattle Public Schools, your family, and student.
Dr. Larry Nyland
A Focus on Partnerships Helps Students Succeed
Central to Seattle Public Schools’ commitment to educational equity is our engagement work with community partners, educators, students, and families. We know productive partnerships with these allies improve outcomes for our students and their communities.
Our mission is to improve educational outcomes for all students. Employing authentic engagement strategies and effective, reciprocal partnerships helps us gain momentum towards this goal.
Building positive partnerships, one of the district’s four signature strategies to eliminate opportunity gaps, is a district-wide approach. With their emphasis on inclusion, the Musical Pathways Project, Family Connectors University, and our partnership with City Year Seattle are examples of efforts across the district that are helping students achieve more through collaboration.
City Year Seattle
Nearly 300 people came out to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary to honor Dr. King for a day of service on Monday, January 16, 2017. The annual City Year Day of Action is more than a volunteering opportunity; it is a daylong community service project promoting civic and community conscious action.
Volunteers from City Year Seattle AmeriCorps, University of Washington Pipeline Corps, community partners, students, and families, took part in the day of service. They beautified the school grounds, joined workshops exploring social justice issues, and painted colorful murals inside the hallways and gymnasium.
School Board President Sue Peters and Mayor Ed Murry addressed the packed auditorium to kick off the service day thanking the volunteers for an unwavering commitment to Dr. King's vision of a more just society.
"Small acts of heroism can happen every day in our own lives. Every student who braves doubt or misfortune, and picks up a pencil, a book, or turns on a computer and tries her or his best anyway. Every teacher or helper who boosts a student’s confidence and helps them uncover their spark, their talents," said Director Peters. "Thank you for your work, for helping our students become the next generation of thinkers and doers."
The concept for the art murals was born at a student listening session. When asked “What do you want to see in our school?,” MLK Jr. Elementary student leaders said they want the school walls to reflect students’ culture(s).
Principal Christopher Thomas wants his students to know, no matter their background, they are welcome at school and that they are each an agent for positive change in their communities.
He says one of the school's primary goals is to “assure students know their voice is heard. The goal is for students to know they are welcome and families trust that the school climate is beneficial for their kids.”
The resulting art mural is vibrant and full of movement. The brightly painted geometric shapes represent world flags, trees, rainbows, and include positive messages and painted frames that can be used to display student art.
“It is a living art mural that will grow and adapt with the students,” says Yonas Fikak the City Year Seattle program manager at MLK Jr. Elementary.