Thursday Thoughts: Climate Strike, Chinese Culture Fun Hour, Hispanic & LatinX Heritage Month and More

Well, it is the last week of summer and next week starts our fall season. I must say it is a moment when I finally turn the heat on in the car for the morning commute ;>) There are so many celebrations as we mark the changing of the season. Our epic start of school has been executed and we are working collaboratively to problem solve challenges that continue to give us pause. We are practicing patience with one another, embracing kindness, not allowing perfection to be the enemy of progress, and enjoying the remarkable traditions this great district treasures as we learn into the future together.  Imagine the possibilities…

I know that many of you have been thoughtful about the current climate change topics both in the news and conversation.  As I reflect on the conversation, and the stake our next generation has in this conversation, I am compelled to contemplate the world my generation has used and the environmental stress we have pressed upon it. Regardless of your position on the topic, and I believe we each have an opinion, we need to stay in community and conversation with one another about this world topic; together, all things are possible. As a learner, I wanted to know more about the current Climate Strike movement and what it entailed, whose voice is being raised, what issues are being discussed, etc. So, I did some research and have read quite a bit about the Climate Strike movement and listened to the voices, young and old, hailing from all around the globe, who are sharing their poignant and passionate hopes for a future. I am inspired.  Student voice and agency is something we, here in Northshore are working hard to nurture and therefore must not silence on matters of justice.

As for us, here in our house, we will excuse students whose parents excuse them for this event. We are messaging: NSD will excuse absences of students participating in the #ClimateStrike on Friday 9/20. Students will require parental consent. Younger students can only leave school accompanied by a parent.

It is my deep hope that the world we are preparing our students for, that world yet to be imagined, can continue to be one that is healthy, and environmentally sustainable. In the spirit of our Northshore Innovates, I challenge each of you to support our students in writing to me with ideas for what our Northshore School District can do to support this climate justice work, here in our own house. I will share some of these ideas in upcoming posts. Imagine the possibilities…

In our Northshore Kindness segment, I am keeping track of the number of acts of kindness we are blanketing our district with since last we met.  As a reminder, with 23,000 students and 3,000 staff and 21 days since we last gathered (I have included weekends as I am trusting we have been kind on the weekends as well ;>)  together we have shared 546,000 acts of kindness.  Wow, that is half a million acts of kindness already !!  Please remember to send me your stories so that I can share them and together we can celebrate one another’s contributions.  Kindness, one act at a time, is transformative.  Imagine the possibilities…

In a segment of Northshore Innovates, I am thrilled to share the ongoing news of our new teacher exchange program with China. Li Haining, our Inglemoor High School Chinese Language Teacher shared news of our exchange teacher, Lijun Huang's successful first outreach event.  Li shared; “Lijun and I hosted the Chinese Culture Fun Hour after school last Friday at Inglemoor.  We celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with 30 participants including students and parents.  Lijun presented the Chinese tradition of enjoying the beauty of a full moon and eating mooncakes on August 15, of the lunar calendar.  It is also called the Chinese Thanksgiving.  Lijun taught people how to make mooncakes.  Participants excitedly saw the sticky rice dough and red bean paste turn into pretty mooncakes and then ate them.  Encouraged by the participants’ enthusiasm, Lijun and I will host another Chinese Culture Fun Hour after school on Friday (9/20) in room 717 at Inglemoor.  Teacher Huang will teach Chinese calligraphy.  All Northshore community members are welcome to join us.”  I love this innovative energy and encourage folks to attend.  I will see you there ;>)

Last June, the Dyslexia Committee completed their Committee Report and presented their recommendations.  I want to thank the committee for their work thus far in preparation for the implementation of E2SSB6162, beginning with the 2021-22 school year.  As you can see in the report, the committee created a series of recommendations from the following four workgroups:  Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)/Response to Instruction (RTI); Assessment; LAP Gap; and Parents as Partners.  Upon meeting with committee leadership, I have asked the committee to prioritize the recommendations within the report during the 2019-20 school year.  At its upcoming meetings, the committee will review the recommendations and prioritize them thinking about a one year, three year and five year timeline. Additionally, the Dyslexia committee and the ELA Supplemental Committee need to ensure there is strategic alignment and coherence with the work around MTSS and RTI.  The state has recently released their list of recommended literacy screening tools and will continue to add tools to this list throughout the year.  We adopted the iReady Diagnostic tool this past spring and it is currently being used in all classrooms, grades K-8, to assess students’ reading and math levels. Several members of the Dyslexia Committee attended Dr. Carolyn Denton’s workshops, in August, designed to provide an overview of current research, best practices, and strategies to support students with dyslexia.  A total of 135 educators attended the morning K-8 overview session while 74 educators continued with Dr. Denton for an afternoon workshop focused on early literacy strategies for K-2 educators.  A videotape of Dr. Denton’s morning presentation will be accessible through the NSD Staff Toolbox later this fall.   We are looking forward to great outcomes in the coming months…

I want to remind us that September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  As we think about our world and the fast, often highly charged pace many of us find ourselves in, it is important to remember that one in five of us will experience mental illness this year.  This morning I had occasion to meet with Ganesh Banavar, a parent who lost his son to suicide six months ago.  Ganesh shared data on suicide and suicide ideation in our area and also shared how important it is to destigmatize the topic of mental health.  I found the deeply emotional hour we spent together to be very thought provoking.  I will be sharing more about this important topic as I believe we need to be doing more around the topics of mental health first aid, healthy habits in general, mindfulness and being present with one another, and communication with one another, etc.  From the NAMI website, “While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic. The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.”  Let’s be compassionate with one another.  We will be filming our inaugural ‘fireside chat’ on this subject.  More to come …

It is National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. Here is a bit about the month: Each year, the U.S. observes National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx peoples from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day, month long, period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. September 15th is also Independence Day for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates their Independence Day on September 16th, Chile on September 18th, and Belize on September 21st.  Although this has been named Hispanic Heritage Month nationally, “Latinx” has been increasingly added to the title to more inclusively represent peoples of and from every Latin country.  We recognize the importance of this time for many in our Northshore family and honor these milestones together. 

As another year begins, our equity work continues. I continue to be inspired by the work of Chris Bigelow, Ed.D., the Equity and Diversity Department and the Equity and Diversity Committee. Included in their work is the Staff of Color Coalition. The SOCC is important to our District as all staff should feel welcome, supported and set up for success. The first SOCC meeting will be in mid-October with additional meetings every other month. For more information, contact the Equity and Diversity Department. 

Each year, on the 21st of September, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world . The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples and the theme for 2019 is “Climate Action for Peace.” I can't help but think how much of a match this is to the bold new strategic plan we are committed to in our Northshore School District. "The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.”  According to the United Nations website, “Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.”  As we think about the unique convergence of topics that are top of mind today, I am awed by the possibilities that await us. 

As the leaves turn, I wish a joyful fall weekend for you and yours. And so, in the changing of the season, “We need to remember that circumstances don’t make a person, they reveal a person. ” — Emma Jameson.   And so, I am off to the BHS home volleyball match...

Warmest regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
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