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    Letter from Principal Friesen About the Equity Team
    Posted on 05/30/2017

    Dear Sacajawea Community,

    At Sacajawea, we greatly value diversity, and our goal is to welcome and include everyone. Unfortunately, this school year, we had several racist incidents: name calling, slurs, racist jokes/teasing, insulting an African American student’s natural hair, students using racially loaded comments, and students being excluded because of skin color.

    When we became aware of these incidents, staff members began using strategies to respond, letting students know racism is not acceptable, and that everyone deserves to feel safe and included. In some classrooms, the teachers and I held class meetings, and we implemented an anti-bullying curriculum to address teasing and name-calling.

    While this immediate response was necessary, we also recognize that racism is a large, complex issue. Our staff needs training to build expertise to effectively address these issues within our community.

    An important start was the formation of our Racial Equity Team. This spring, the team of parents and staff members began meeting regularly to create a place for the hard conversations around racism, and to take actions to keep our community safe, healthy, and strong. Several team members attended a series of trainings with other Racial Equity Teams sponsored by Seattle Public Schools. We also met with a facilitator to help us focus our work, and held the Heritage Potluck in order to introduce the team to you, our community.

    This team is committed to the work of addressing racism and equity here at Sacajawea. We need both immediate strategies to teach our students about racism, as well as long-term, deeper work to make acceptance and equity part of our school culture. We cannot fix this overnight, and we are committed to doing this work for as long as it takes.

    For the 2016-17school year, Equity Team plans include:

    • Several staff meetings and/or early release days given over to equity work, which may include partnership with an outside expert.

    • We hope to host workshops and /or a forum for staff and families to learn about racism, and how to address it in ourselves, with our children and in the world

    • We plan to hold 2 Heritage Potlucks to continue to celebrate all of the different people in our community.

    • We will take a critical look at our teaching practice around the issues of racism and diversity, and at the content of our curricula, books, and resources to ensure that they represent and include people of all kinds. We will look for resources to enhance our classrooms and school libraries with a focus on diversity.

    • An Equity Team newsletter will include information on how to connect with the team and how to be involved. We welcome your partnership.

    Below are some links I’ve found helpful on this important issue:

    Sacajawea’s Racial Equity Team:

    Please don’t hesitate to communicate with me as questions or concerns arise. We are a community that cares deeply for every student, family and staff member, and we are committed to being a place where every child is nurtured and successful.

    In Partnership,

    Rachel Friesen, Principal