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    Juneau's Journal Nov. 2
    Posted on 11/02/2018
    Superintendent and student talk in a classroom together

    Courageous Conversations

    The discouraging national rhetoric and horrific tragedies these past couple of weeks have not been easy. I have heard from many of you about the importance of reconfirming our commitment to safe and inclusive schools for each student in our care. You have also shared concerns about growing intolerance and what that means for our Seattle community.

    I am committed to making sure our schools are not only physically safe, but also places where students can be themselves and openly share their perspectives, life experiences, fears, and hopes.

    As we mourn the lives lost this last week, I'd like to honor the safe spaces being created across the district, in schools, and in classrooms. Only through relationship and understanding can we root out intolerance. During school visits this week, I witnessed students engaged in critical conversations; being exposed to new ideas and challenging their own thinking.

    At Cascadia Elementary, educator Mr. Downing held space for student-centered learning, asking open-ended questions of his fourth graders and encouraging peer-to-peer dialogue. I was interviewed by three scholars at Licton Springs K8: Genecis, Julian, and Wonam. Their questions showed evidence of the deep inquiry-based thinking happening in the classroom. Principal Marni Campbell at Eagle Staff Middle School shared how restorative practices are making an impact in her school community. Students and staff routinely build relationships through classroom talking circles that invite individuals to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about a given topic.

    I believe public education plays a critical role in creating a more just society. It is the foundation of our democracy and where our youngest leaders learn to celebrate differences, build community, and work towards solutions. Our hope is that through education, the next generation will be better than us and will overcome hate and let love win - that they will work hard for justice to prevail.

    In other news, I'm really excited to announce the selection of members for my Student Advisory Board. With at least one representative from each high school, these young people will ensure student voices have a seat at the table, sharing their perspectives and engaging in district-wide decision making.

    I look forward to entering into courageous conversations with the Student Advisory Board, discussing complex issues, and working together to make Seattle Public Schools the best school district for every single student.

    Corny joke of the week: What does Charles Dickens keep in his spice rack? The best of thymes, the worst of thymes.