WSD Equity Newsletter

November 2021

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Just a Reminder!

This newsletter is intended to highlight equity-driven initiatives, events and activities across the District and potentially in our greater community; provide information about upcoming holidays and observances; and share cultural competency, diversity, equity and inclusion resources.
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Honoring the Land We Stand On

The area we know today as Washougal was likely used by both Chinookan speaking peoples and Cowlitz peoples. Chinookan-speaking people inhabited areas along the lower Columbia River, while the Cowlitz occupied interior areas. Chinookan-speaking group’s cultural traditions were similar to groups inhabiting the Pacific Northwest Coast as well as the Columbia Plateau. The Cowlitz were an inland group with no direct access to the ocean, making them distinct from neighboring tribes including the Chinook. Today, we honor those who were native here and found sustenance on this land. We acknowledge their descendants who live in the world today.

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Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a time to honor and recognize the indigenous peoples of this land. This is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Native American Heritage Month is an opportune time to learn about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges indigenous people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens and descendants have met these challenges. Below is a list of culturally responsive strategies and activity ideas to utilize in the classroom for this month and beyond.


Resources for Celebrating and Recognizing Native Heritage Month:

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Strategies To Increase Representation


  1. Learn about your own culture and be ready to talk about it. Know why you are who you are because of where you came from.
  2. Think through the instructional materials that are used, with a specific eye toward each and every student. Are there positive examples of different races, roles, and levels of affluence? Are we including the full spectrum of gender, or only the binary?
  3. Take a look around the space you work. Does the decor reflect the languages and cultures of the students who sit in the seats? If not, ask students to help you create a more inclusive and welcoming space. Student work makes for great decoration!
  4. Do you use strategies that make learning less or more accessible to some than others? Are there specific things that you can do (or avoid doing) as you welcome ALL students? (Teaching Tolerance has some great resources for this.)


Representation matters. What our students see around them positively or negatively shapes their expectations for themselves and for each other. When it comes to our schools, let’s do our part to make sure that they can see themselves and all of their peers as strong, creative, capable, happy, and connected. We want our students to have a strong sense of belonging.


Laura Thomas - Edutopia (2016)

Mirrors and Windows

Stories as Windows - A window is something you can see the world through, and the texts we put in front of our students should share this quality. Imagine if these windows could help prepare our student to global thinkers and teach them ways to navigate, honor culture, and make healthy choices. When thinking of windows, consider:

  • Who are my students?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do my students find curious?
  • What world knowledge can we build together?
  • What connections to prior knowledge can we make?
  • Through what ways can I learn different things about my students?


Stories as Mirrors - Mirrors allow us to see ourselves. They show us what we look like, they let us examine ourselves, and they can give us a glimpse of our ancestry and heritage. When student see themselves in literature they can see themselves in relation to the world and help them build connection and a sense of belonging as well as what is possible. When thinking of mirrors, consider:

  • What more do I need to know about my students?
  • What are their funds of knowledge?
  • How does intersectionality live in our learning spaces?
  • How do my students see themselves?
  • What activities can I design to help students explore their identity/identities?
  • How can I prepare myself so I can best support students in this process.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2021)

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester's death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.


As we create awareness and continue to disrupt inequities, it is important for us to continue to prioritize support for ALL students and especially our transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students. We want them to know that "we see you" and we are working to better support you in our district. Below are the guiding principles developed by the organizers of the Day of Remembrance:

  • “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” (Santayana)
  • All who die due to anti-transgender violence are to be remembered.
  • We can make a difference by being visible, speaking out, educating and organizing around anti-transgender violence.
  • Transgender lives are affirmed as valuable.

Diwali

Starting November 4, 2021, the Diwali festival that is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs all over the world. Diwali, also known as Deepavali, means “a row of lamps.” It is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil, removal of darkness with light, and ignorance with knowledge. The festival is celebrated for up to five days.


Families celebrate Diwali by decorating homes with a series of oil and electrical lamps, wearing new clothes, lighting fireworks, cooking special meals, and exchanging sweets and gifts with family and friends. Oil lamps are thought to remove bacteria, special meals help the body and mind during the transition time into the rainy and winter season.

Resources:

Diversity Calendar & Additional Resources

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Barriers contribute to inequitable access to high-quality opportunities for all children to have healthy social, emotional and academic development:

Systemic Level Barriers

  • Poverty limits the social, emotional and academic development of young people and diminishes present and future education and life prospects

Institutional Level Barriers

  • Exclusionary discipline practices and policies are disproportionately used to punish students of color and marginalized youth, limiting SEAD opportunities

  • Lack of trauma-informed practices adversely impacts students’ SEAD opportunities and their life outcomes

Individual Level Barriers

  • Implicit bias in school staff engenders low expectations and disengagement for students of color and marginalized youth

  • Educator stress and burnout reduce the safety and productivity of the classroom and educators’ ability to model SEL skills

Strategic Plan Equity Goal

We will engage in intentional efforts to identify disparities that create opportunity gaps, and take action to eliminate the achievement gap. We will develop and strengthen students’ agency, so they are prepared for careers, college and life.

  • KNOW

    • Identify students from marginalized groups

    • Learn the many assets and strengths of families, students, and their respective communities

  • NURTURE

    • Develop culturally responsive practices

    • Ensure inclusive environments that value contributions from all groups

    • Utilize trauma-informed pedagogy

    • Provide staff and students space to develop agency, and shift ownership of learning from teachers to students

  • CHALLENGE

    • Disrupt systems that perpetuate institutional biases and oppressive practices

    • Hire a diverse workforce that reflects the students we serve

WSD Equity Policy

This is a link to our Equity Policy that was adopted by the school board in June.

WSD Equity Statement

This is a link to the entire WSD Equity Statement

Nondiscrimination Statement

The Washougal School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: Civil Rights Coordinator: Aaron Hansen, 4855 Evergreen Way, Washougal WA 98671, (360) 954-3050; Title IX Officer: Gary McGarvie, 1201 39th St., Washougal WA 98671, (360) 954-3104; Section 504 Coordinator: Penny Andrews, 4855 Evergreen Way, Washougal WA 98671, (360) 954-3020.

Aaron Hansen, WSD Assistant Superintendent