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    Juneau's Journal November 8
    Posted on 11/08/2019

    Making ALL Students Feel Safe and Welcome

    All students should feel safe and welcome at Seattle Public Schools. As part of our five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence, we are focused on creating inclusive environments that prepare students for college, a career, and community participation.

    National incidents of hate and bias and reports in our own district have compelled us to call more attention to the need for safe school communities. It is our job to create the right conditions for our students to succeed, and we are committed to creating schools where every child is known, welcomed, and supported.

    Acts of hate and bias have no place in our district and won’t be tolerated. I am committed to working with school leaders to strengthen our practices to eliminate these types of incidents in our schools.

    I want to thank the Seattle Council PTSA for holding us accountable and partnering with us in this work. Together, we have created guidelines for school leaders on how to effectively address incidents of racial bias and hate with a focus on naming the harm inflicted, healing and restoration, and education.

    Last November, principals participated in racial bias training to help reduce incidents and learn how to best support their students and community when they occur.

    With the help of our school leaders, school communities are having challenging conversations about race, bias, and what we must collectively do to become the district our students deserve. We look to our families to help us in this work and encourage you to have these important conversations at home.

    We expect everyone in our district to be treated positively, without fear of bullying or intimidation. If students or families ever have concerns, they should be raised with teachers and a school building leader, either the principal or assistant principal. Concerns can also be sent to the Office of Student Civil Rights at OSCR@seattleschools.org.

    Creating Safe and Welcoming Environments

    As of this month, almost 60 different school-based teams attended Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) training, a framework that supports schools in establishing a safe and welcoming school environment. This training helps staff create clear school-wide and classroom behavioral expectations and develop common language around behavior. School-based teams are also working to engage families in this work. When there is a shared understanding of expectations and consistency across the school, trust is built with students, and learning is supported.

    This work is Seattle Excellence in practice, providing a range of social and emotional learning opportunities and supports to create the welcoming environments students need to thrive. School leaders and staff are working together to build on students’ strengths by establishing trusting relationships and making learning more culturally relevant for students. Thank you to our central office staff and educators for learning alongside each other to best support all our students.

    Native American Heritage Month

    At this week’s board meeting, the Board and I proclaimed that Seattle Public Schools would observe November as Native American Heritage Month and November 29 as Native American Heritage Day.

    This November, we will honor the important contributions to our communities made by our local, state, and country’s indigenous peoples. On our own School Board, Directors Scott Pinkham and Zachary DeWolf are members of tribal nations, and I am proud to be an enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa Tribes and descendent of the Blackfeet, Oneida, and Tlingit Haida.

    Representation matters, especially as we work to create identity-safe, inclusive classrooms that acknowledge and celebrate our students’ unique backgrounds and identities.

    Within SPS, around 1,600 students identify as Native American with at least 230 Tribes represented by students throughout the district. Last year, we showcased some of our exceptional Native high school students and staff sharing their stories, hopes, and dreams for their futures in our “I Am Native” video. As I said then, our Native students are the next leaders of Seattle and our future. It is our duty to create the environments that support their limitless potential.

    Thank you to our school board directors for helping us acknowledge the important contributions of America's first peoples, and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of so many of our students.

    Denise Juneau

    Corny joke of the week: Why do trees try new things so often? Because every autumn, then turn over a new leaf.