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    Juneau's Journal Nov. 16
    Posted on 11/16/2018

    Thankfulness

    At the November 14 School Board meeting, the Board of Directors and I proclaimed that Seattle Public Schools would observe November as Native American Heritage Month and November 23 as Native American Heritage Day. Seattle Public Schools joins others across the nation in celebrating Native American Heritage Month, honoring the unique heritage of this continent’s first people, and reaffirming our commitment to respect tribal sovereignty and cultural identities. Thank you to our school board directors for acknowledging the integral contributions and values of Native Americans that have shaped the social, political, environmental, cultural, and economic fabric of this city and region. Read the proclamation.

    As the leaves change colors, the days get shorter, and the weather gets colder, we are all reminded that November is a time for expressing gratitude.

    One of the many things that I am thankful for is the opportunity to lead Seattle Public Schools as superintendent. I am also extremely thankful for the outstanding school leaders across this district.

    Congratulations to the school leader recipients of the annual Alliance for Education Foster Awards; Rena Deese of Alki Elementary, Anitra Pinchback-Jones of Rainier View Elementary, and Chris Carter of Asa Mercer International Middle School. The Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence honors principals who have demonstrated significant achievements in closing opportunity gaps in their school communities. These superstar leaders reflect everything that is great about our district and we are so grateful for their expertise and guidance. Read more about these awards.

    I’d like to share another expression of congratulations to Principal Anitra Pinchback-Jones who recently received the Milken Educator Award and recognition from the Milken Family Foundation. I have seen the culture of high expectations and academic rigor in Principal Jones’ school community and can attest to the great work happening in classrooms.

    School Visits this Week

    Superintendent and teachers smile for a photo in a classroom I took a trip to the central region of the city this week to witness education in action at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Madrona Elementary, and Seattle World School. Evident at all three schools was the commitment to building positive relationships with students and a focus on considering the whole child, ensuring each student is healthy, safe, engaged, and supported in providing a comprehensive education.

    At Bailey Gatzert Elementary, I was honored to meet so many of the adults who have a hand in creating safe spaces for our students. At the community school, I noted rich culture and great diversity in the student population and a place where school staff are responsive to the desires and needs of their families. Using their school climate data and family feedback, they shifted after school opportunities for students to better reflect the needs of the community.

    Superintendent talks with kidsAt Madrona Elementary, a Center for Educational Effectiveness School of Distinction for the third year in a row for math and reading growth, Principal McDaniel shared how her staff are fully implementing Center for the Collaborative Classroom, a new English language arts instructional resource. Walking in and out of classrooms, I witnessed teachers asking open-ended questions of students, encouraging deeper thinking, and collaborative learning opportunities.

    I was lucky enough to be led around Seattle World School by senior Ghazzy Ezzeddin. Ghazzy was recognized by his teachers as a leader in the school, and after taking an interpretation class last summer, assisted staff in Arabic translation for families. Superintendent walks through a hallway with a teacherAt Seattle World School, the motto is “Diversity is our Strength. Unity is our Power.” During my visit to the culturally and linguistically diverse school for newcomer secondary students, I observed a nurturing community, where students’ cultures are celebrated and authentic relationships with educators are at the heart of their educational experience.

    With Thanksgiving around the corner next week, I’d like to share some children’s books that do a great job at helping us recognize the diversity of Native peoples and share a more accurate history and story:

      Book cover for Goose Girl
    • "Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Form" by Tim Tingle
    • "A Boy Called Slow" by Joseph Bruchac
    • "Goose Girl" by Joseph McLellan and Matrine McLellan

    Corny joke of the week: What did the fisherman say to the magician? Pick a cod, any cod.