Equity & Access Newsletter

Elementarty Edition-November 2017

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Famous Native Americans

November is Native American Heritage Month or commonly referred to as Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate the richly diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native Americans. Native American Heritage Month is a celebration that is relevant to the history of America every day of the year.

Students of the majority need exposure to the accomplishments, contributions, and value of others. Sacagawea was the only woman on the expedition with Lewis and Clark. She served as interpreter, diplomat, peace symbol and had a child. Maria Tallchief was America’s first and the first Native American to hold the rank of a major prima ballerina. John Bennett Herrington became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space. Their accomplishments enhance the tapestry of America and encompass the true meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It’s always good to remind students, "it’s not just their history, it’s OUR history!”

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By: James Bruchac (Adapter), Joseph Bruchac Ph.D. (Adapter), Stefano Vitale (Illustrator)

Read by Gwen Marshall



Empathy and Student relationships

What is empathy and should I teach it in my classroom? One definition of empathy is listening, building relationships, and caring for others. Colesante defines empathy as “the intrapersonal realization of another’s plight that illuminates the potential consequences of one's actions on the lives of others" (as cited in Hollingsworth, 2003, p. 146) making it possible for us to learn how to act and react responsibly, or even compassionately, towards others.

Different parts of the brain control empathetic mechanisms like:

  • Modeling - Simulating an observed experience to understand, and to feel the experience.
  • Projection- Moving out of your point of view to another's.
  • Adjustment - Balancing between self and others (Lewis, 2007.)

As an Educator incorporating empathy into your daily instructional activities could bring positive results in your classroom, and the community as well. Here’s why by Laura Owens:

  • Empathy builds positive classroom culture: Our classrooms are becoming more diverse each year which makes it necessary for educators to construct a positive cultural classroom. Empathy is the beginning of that cultural setting. Through empathy, students learn to understand each other which helps to build positive relationships of trust.
  • Empathy strengthens a community: In our globalized world, people are coming from different cultures with different backgrounds. The definition of empathy involves understanding another’s feeling without having the experience. As our students learn empathy skills, they will transfer these skills into their lives and communities. These skills have the potential to build trust which builds stronger communities.
  • Empathy prepares your students to be leaders in their community: Leaders must be able to show they care. Our students must learn how to empathize with those they lead and how to make people feel valued. As they learn to validate others, it will strengthen relationships. Educators are in a position to equip students to be future leaders of communities and the world.
  • Educators have the opportunity to model empathy by demonstrating active listening skills, scheduling class time for relationship building activities and involving the class in projects that exemplify caring.

Grades: K-5

Teaching Empathy Through Literature


Owen, Lauren. “Empathy in the Classroom: Why Should I Care?” Edutopia, 11 Nov. 2015, www.edutopia.org/blog/empathy-classroom-why-should-i-care-lauren-owen.

Did You Know?

That every child needs a Champion! In The Growth Mindset, Carol Dweck suggests that teachers who offer appropriate, targeted praise can begin to introduce a student to the concept of a positive growth mindset. The benefits of the growth mindset and building strong teacher-student relationships are many, it builds self-confidence in the student, impacts academic achievement and can improve students' relationships with each other. Every student needs to know that there is an adult that will not give up on them. Every student deserves a teacher that believes in equity and access for all students regardless of their ethnicity or background.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.

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Coming Events

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Community Resource

The Fairbanks Bike Shop is open Wednesday 6:00-8:00& Saturday 12:00-2:00

  • $15 youth bikes
  • $25 adult bikes
  • ·1 FREE bike for 3 hours of volunteerism at The Fairbanks
  • If someone brings in a bike to trade, they may be eligible for a free bike
  • The bike shop offers free repairs on bikes during their open bike shop hours


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You may remember in several newsletters we've mentioned the Equity Champions. Champions have been chosen and participated in their first training session by the time you receive this. There's an Equity Champion at each school building. One of their roles will be to contribute an article to share in the monthly newsletter. In the coming months, we will share more about their roles and expectations. Do you know who your building "Champion is?"