Research shows that children are more likely to succeed academically and are less likely to engage in disruptive behavior if their families are involved in their education. Additional studies have found that parental involvement is more important to student success, at every grade level, than family income or education. However, many parents say that they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in their children’s schools.
To bridge this gap, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) has brought back ‘Coffee Morning’, an activity to promote parental involvement and gets families more familiar with school staff. The first Coffee Morning of the school year took place on October 11.
“I feel the significance of a monthly Coffee Morning is to provide access to the school, myself, and our staff in an informal setting,” said Principal Doug Shook. “Just as we want Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary to feel welcoming to all of our students every day, we want families to feel welcome when they come in the building. It is important for families to have an opportunity to meet me and talk to me about their child’s experience here at QCT. This way we can stay responsive to the needs of the family and community.”
Parents, grandparents, and guardians alike were invited to join their students in the school library where coffee, juice, and a variety of donuts could be enjoyed. Over 80 participants showed up and mingled during the 8:45a.m. – 9:15a.m. window. Several parents could be found joining their student in reading a good book, while others took the opportunity to introduce themselves to the new Principal and his staff.
“As the new principal at QCT, I’m excited that we had 80 family members and students participate!” added Principal Doug. “We’re hoping that word of mouth gets out so we have even more family members at our next Coffee Morning. I had the opportunity to talk with many families and to introduce myself and answer all of their questions. My hope is that we can provide additional ways for our QCT families to visit and show off the great work of our students. Our staff does a great job and works hard in making QCT a warm and inviting space so that our students can do their best every day.”
October marks the second annual Unity and Wellness Month sponsored by the Tulalip Tribes and in partnership with the Marysville School District as they focus on a different area of student wellness each week in October. Week 2 was healthy relationships week. Morning Coffee showcased the goals of healthy relationships with students, parents, and teachers coming together in unity.
If you missed out this time (or even if you didn’t) QCT staff would love to see more of their students and families at the next month’s Coffee Morning on November 1 from 8:45a.m. -9:15a.m.
Many schools across the nation celebrate the works of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss by hosting a spirit week each March during his birthday week. This tradition is practiced annually at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT.) But before preparations for this year’s Dr. Suess week began, Chelsea Craig, Tulalip tribal member and QCT instructor, suggested the school celebrated another national hero, Billy Frank Jr., whose passion for preserving fishing rights for Washington State tribes has made a positive impact for both Indian Country and the environment for generations to come. QCT celebrated by learning about the Native American activist every day during his birthday week, March 6-10.
In 1854 and 1855 the State of Washington met with several local tribes to sign treaties in order to designate land for the tribes. Each tribe received a portion of land where the state would provide schools and medical care. The treaties allowed the tribes to retain the right to hunt, gather and fish at all usual and accustomed grounds.
Ninety years after the treaties were signed, fourteen-year-old Billy Frank Jr. of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, was arrested for fishing on off-reservation land on the Nisqaully River. This was the first of over fifty arrests for Billy and ultimately led to the fish wars and the Boldt decision, a landmark court case that affirmed tribal fishing rights; subjects that were studied during Billy Frank Jr. week at QCT.
Billy actively fought his entire life not only for fishing rights but also for the environment. He served as the chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for over thirty years. Billy passed away in 2014 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary students display their school-wide art project in honor of Billy Frank Jr. The students designed paper salmon printed with their name and why they believe Billy’s work was important to Native America. Their artwork, laminated together, gave the illusion of salmon swimming upstream.
The school’s spirit week concluded with a two-hour assembly in honor of Billy, that included artwork as well as traditional song and dance by the students. Also in attendance were Billy’s son Willie and members of the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors.
“Billy’s fight started as a battle for a right to continue to do what he and his ancestors have done for thousands of years and he went to jail many, many times fighting for that right, which is secured in a treaty with the United States. Since that time, there’s been many battles and struggles in trying to preserve that right,” explained Tulalip Board member Glen Gobin.
He continued, “As Billy got older he recognized that the fish runs were declining. He realized, it wasn’t the harvesting it was the habitat. So Billy’s focus changed, still protecting the salmon but understanding the environment and the changes that were coming. His focus changed because he knew it was going to affect the next generations.”
Salmon appeared to be swimming through the elementary gymnasium as students displayed a school-wide art project. Each student decorated paper cut-out salmon which were then laminated together, giving the illusion of fish swimming upstream. The students also remixed the B-I-N-G-O nursery rhyme to the tune of B-I-L-L-Y. The fifth grade class created a video in which they spoke of Billy’s career and legacy. During the video several students thanked him for his work, stating the battle he fought allows their family members to exercise their fishing rights, as many parents are fisherman or work in fisheries.
Willie Frank thanked the students and offered words of encouragement about environmental protection amongst massive EPA budget cuts from the Trump Administration. He stated, “My dad always said ‘tell your story’. He’s gone now so it’s up to all of us to tell our story, as Native People, about how much the environment means to us. How much the salmon and the water mean to us.”
The assembly concluded with a traditional song provided by both students and tribal members. QCT is making a strong effort on educating their students about the local Native American hero by sharing his story, a sentiment echoed by a fifth-grade student. She states, “They say you die twice. Once in the physical and then again when your story dies. We are going to make sure Billy Frank Jr. lives forever by sharing his story.”
During a recent visit from the Washington State Board of Education, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) provided an inside look at their ABC curriculum, an acronym for the new approach to the education system within the Tulalip community. ABC stands for the Academic instruction, Behavioral and social-emotional support and Culture based curriculum that the Marysville School District and the Tulalip Tribes have recently began implementing at the elementary.
QCT is one of few schools in Washington State that is integrating traditional Native teachings into school subjects such as music, art, language, math and history. The school often invites tribal members to help teach the children about the Tulalip culture. Each morning the school holds a fifteen-minute assembly where students perform traditional song and dance. QCT holds an annual cultural fair where tribal members are invited to share traditional foods as well as tribal history with the students. The elementary school also observes Tulalip Day every November and holds a fifth-grade potlatch at the end of each year. Most recently the school held a Billy Frank Jr. themed spirit week, honoring the man who dedicated his life to fighting for Native American fishing rights.
“We all had heroes growing up. I remember going to the library and spending all day reading about Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe. You know growing up as Indian People, we don’t have a lot of Native heroes we can look up to, but Billy Frank Jr. is a true Coast Salish hero. He is someone we all look up to because of the amazing work he did for fisheries. Thank you for honoring him, he definitely deserves to be celebrated,” stated Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon.
The ABC curriculum puts emphasis on family and community, connections that are often strong in Native America. QCT makes an effort to communicate regularly with their student’s family members. The school also ensures the students stay up to par with the utilization of modern technology, both for research and to create documents. During a classroom walk-through the State Board of Education observed the curriculum in action during an art class as well as a writing class.
Representatives from the Tulalip Board of Directors, Marysville School District and QCT faculty spoke about cultural assimilation and the affect it left on Native communities. Each explaining to the Board of Educators that assimilation caused trauma that is still affecting the descendants of boarding school victims today, although the events occurred several generations prior. Families were broken and cultures were stripped during the ‘kill the Indian, save the man’ era.
“Our people were [originally] taught in a traditional way at the foot of our grandmothers, not in classrooms but out in nature. When the education system was forcibly put on us, it was done in way that stripped everything away from our children. It was done purposely to take away who we are as Indian People in a very painful way. That was our introduction to education. Since then we’ve had elders try to get this work, our voice and our story, into the public schools to try to heal. I believe we are continuing the work of our ancestors,” states Tulalip tribal member and QCT Instructor, Chelsea Craig.
The tribe, school district and Board of Educators are well aware and prepared for the hard work that will be required, and they started the healing process through the ABC curriculum.
The Tulalip Tribes Tobacco Cessation Program helped Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) students celebrate Red Ribbon Week from October 24 to 28. This year’s theme was “You Only Live Once. Be Drug Free.” Students, parents and staff were invited to participate in daily activities to promote positive, healthy living.
Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign held during the final week of October and brings drug abuse awareness to schools. Think of it as a modern day equivalent to the D.A.R.E. program for the previous generations. It’s a program that started back in the 1980s in honor of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Kiki Camerena, whose goal was to educate youth on drug prevention.
The ‘YOLO. Be Drug Free’ campaign focused on making healthy, confident life choices. The week highlighted substance abuse prevention, including over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and illegal substances.
“The Tulalip Tribes and Marysville School District partnered to create a special month-long program called Unity Month and it was in full effect during October,” stated Ashley Tiedeman, Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator. “Each week our goal was to focus on a different topic, such as domestic violence and bullying prevention. For the last week of October the topic was suicide prevention for the older kids, grades 6-12, while the younger kids, K-5, got Red Ribbon Week.”
On Monday, October 24, the tobacco and drug prevention campaign kicked off. QCT students and staff were encouraged to wear the color red and all received an invitation to a special breakfast before the morning assembly. The youthful minds who attended the breakfast got a nutritious, fruit-filled breakfast to snack on while Ashley and her colleague Rachel Steeve handed out custom #UnityMonth bracelets and stickers. The pair of Smoking Cessation experts used the time to also educate students on the health risks and concerns of smoking cigarettes. When hearing of all the deadly chemicals and nastiness in cigarettes the children’s focused faces immediately mirrored that of Mr. Yuk.
Throughout the week QCT students had the opportunity to take a pledge to be drug-free, stand together as links in a unified chain to live healthy lifestyles, look to the future while wearing the colors of their favorite college, and complete several drug-free activity worksheets that could be exchanged for popcorn at lunch time.
“The kids were so excited and they really got into Red Ribbon Week because the activities changed every day. The activities made the kids so eager to learn and they really emphasize all the benefits of being drug-free,” said Moiya Rossnagle, Family Liaison for QCT. “Watching them fill out their pledge cards to be drug and alcohol-free was a definite highlight.”
Red Ribbon Week came to an end with the conclusion of the final activity, a door decorating competition. Each classroom spent the week decorating their doors for the contest held on Friday, October 28. The winning classroom would be awarded a Popsicle party, so needless to say the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
“We wanted to get all the classes excited and what better way than to have a friendly competition where the kids could get creative and really show different ways to promote living healthy and being drug-free,” marveled Ashley. “The kids put so much effort and thought into decorating their classroom doors. It was just amazing to see what each class came up with. Each class did such a great job that we couldn’t pick just one winner, they were all winners for celebrating Red Ribbon Week.”
Ultimately, each class was deemed a winner and all the students got to bask in the glory that is a Popsicle party. Hopefully, while enjoying the yummy treat each student took a moment to reflect on what they’d learned over the past week. Understanding the importance of staying focused on their dreams and not letting negative things like substance abuse sidetrack them from all the potential and greatness a drug-free life has to offer. After all, there are many more Popsicle parties to be had.
TULALIP — Last Thursday, the children in Sarah Poyner Wallis’ kindergarten class at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School filtered in after the morning assembly.
Maria Martin and Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge, teacher assistants with the Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed department, wish the kids good morning.
“haʔɬ dadatut,” they said. The children said it back to them.
The kids sat in a circle for their first lesson: a song, simply called “Hello Friend,” and sung in Lushootseed to the tune of “Frère Jacques.”
Andy Bronson / The Herald With the help of flash cards, kindergartners at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School speak the Lushootseed language with instructor Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge. From left: Jaycee Williams, Jesse Lozano,Tyler Hills and Joscelynn Jones-Lloyd.
This year Lushootseed, or dxʷləšucid, the language of Coast Salish Indians around Puget Sound, was reintroduced to the Marysville School District for the first time since 2011. That’s when the old Tulalip Elementary in the heart of the reservation was closed.
About 50 kindergartners and first-graders — five total classrooms — are getting daily language lessons from Martin and St. Onge this fall.
The simple explanation for the reintroduction is that the Tulalip Tribes were able to hire more teachers.
“Our problem is we were short-staffed. We’ve never had a full crew,” said Michele Balagot, the tribes’ Lushootseed department manager.
Newly hired teachers start out by teaching pre-school kids, and ideally would remain with the same the class of students as they get older, she said.
That’s not very easy in practice, however.
“Some people we hired found out they didn’t like to teach, or weren’t teacher material, or found out they didn’t like working with little kids,” Balagot said.
Add to that the fact that most of the teachers hired have had to learn Lushootseed at the same time they taught it to the children, one of the aftereffects of the boarding school era in which the language was suppressed almost to the point of extinction.
Maria Martin, who is 25, represents a new generation of speakers. She started learning the language as a child in the Montessori school, but throughout her school years only learned the language in the Tulalip summer language camps.
The Lushootseed program sends new hires to Northwest Indian College in Bellingham for formal instruction before they are put in front of a class.
Martin said she feels reasonably fluent when in front of the class, although still consults with her superiors in the language program when she needs specialized vocabulary.
Still, she’s become fluent enough that she’s often delivered invocations and greetings in Lushootseed at official tribal functions.
In Poyner Wallis’ class, she gave instructions to the kindergartners in Lushootseed first, and only English if the kids didn’t appear to understand them.
In one exercise, she held up a flash card with a picture of a brown bear. “stəbtabəl̕,” the kids chimed together.
She held up a picture of a frog. “waq̓waq̓!”
Then she held up an orca, but the kids are unsure and need reminding. “qal̕qaləx̌ič,” Martin said, and the kids shape out the unfamiliar glottal consonants.
A picture of a salmon also stopped them cold, and Martin prompted then with the answer: “sʔuladxʷ.”
“That’s a hard one because it looks like qal̕qaləx̌ič,” one boy piped up. “I almost said ‘salmon’.”
The student body at Quil Ceda Tulalip is about 60 percent Native American, although the actual figure is likely higher once children of mixed marriages or parents who aren’t enrolled in a tribe are taken into account, said Chelsea Craig, a cultural specialist at the school.
All the schoolchildren have been getting a dose of native culture in the morning assembly, which includes singing and a drum circle. The school is also leading the charge in incorporating native history into its regular curriculum.
Craig said she hopes that by getting the kids into Lushootseed while still young, they will learn their ancestral language and come to associate it with a supportive and healing environment.
“My great-grandmother was beaten for speaking Lushootseed,” she said, referring to the boarding school era, which began in 1860 and didn’t truly end until the 1978 passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
When Craig was growing up, some tribal elders could still speak the language, she said.
“The elders spoke it but didn’t share it, because it was too traumatic,” she said. “My great-grandmother didn’t want me to go through what she went through.”
Some Lushootseed words are introduced at the morning assembly, but it’s the lessons in class that are moving toward making the language thrive again.
In Poyner Wallis’ classroom, the kids were split into groups. Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge used the children’s book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” to help reinforce the vocabulary, and then moved on to flash cars with numbers.
St. Onge held up a card with the number six on it. Jordan Bontempo counted out loud on his fingers.
“č̓uʔ, saliʔ, ɬixʷ, buus, cəlac … yəlaʔc!” he said triumphantly.
Meanwhile, Maria Martin gave the kids pictures of a bear to color that also had a connect-the-dots tracery of the Lushootseed word “stəbtabəl̕.” Two kids colored the bear brown and one black, but others went for green, purple, rainbow stripes and one outside-the-lines expressionist squiggle.
When they were done with the bear, they moved on to a picture of a frog.
Carlee James-Jimicum waved her completed bear at Martin. “I’m ready for my waq̓waq̓,” she said.
Balagot said that there are about 40 people on the Tulalip reservation who can speak Lushootseed with some degree of conversational skill.
“We probably couldn’t hold a full conversation, but we could get the gist of what we’re saying,” she said.
The hope is the 50 kindergartners and first-graders will grow into older kids and teens who can add to that number.
Like Martin, perhaps some of them will return to teaching the next generation.
After finishing up in Poyner Wallis’ class, St. Onge and Martin split up. Martin walked down the hall into Lisa Sablan’s kindergarten class, where the kids were eagerly waiting for their lesson.
When she stepped into the room, they all called out together, welcoming their teacher and friend “haʔɬ dadatut syaʔyaʔ!”
Second grade to fifth graders attended the cultural fair and learned about the various tribes presented on Thursday, June 11, 2015, at the Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School. Photo/ Tulalip News, Brandi N. Montreuil
By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
TULALIP – In the midst of summer excitement, third graders from Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School presented the last project of the school year to their peers, which incorporated the Since Time Immemorial curriculum. On Thursday, June 11, third graders hosted a mini cultural fair where they presented information on six tribes they had been studying. The cultural fair is an example of the unique learning environment cultivated at the school, which serves a large population of Native students in the Marysville School District.
The school’s cultural specialist Chelsea Craig worked with students on a six-week project in which they chose a tribe to study and present what they learned about the tribe. Chosen for study were the Muckleshoot, Nooksack, Tulalip, Spokane, Suquamish and Yakama Tribes, along with Afognak Village located in Alaska.
As part of the project the students were asked to contact their chosen tribe to learn first-hand about the tribe’s history and culture. Many of the students were provided letters of support for the project containing information about treaty rights, economic development and tribal history. One tribe even provided a DVD for students to watch.
As part of Since Time Immemorial curriculum students learned what role canoes play with Coast Salish tribes. They held a cultural fair on Thursday, June 11, 2015, to present the information they learned. Photo/ Tulalip News, Brandi N. Montreuil
Jimmy Faria chose to study Nooksack. Before the project he knew nothing about the tribe of 2,000 members. “I wrote to them and they actually wrote me back. You will learn a lot about tribes here. I learned the difference between how a coastal tribe builds a house and how a plains tribes build a house,” said Jimmy, who handed out brochures on Nooksack he created using the program Publisher.
The project provides a great example of how STI works in schools. STI helps addresses the need for Native representation in class lessons. It provides a basic framework of Indian history and understanding of sovereignty for grades k-12. Lessons can be adapted to focus on tribal history and culture, such as Mrs. Deveraux’s class which completed a writing assignment that focused on canoes. Students learned how canoes were made, cared for, and their importance to Coast Salish tribes. This is a great example of how STI curriculum can be integrated into lessons. Tribal components can be added to each learning subject, for example math students can learn the dimensions of different Coast Salish canoe styles, or in reading students can read about tribes using canoes for transportation or art assignments can include designing mock canoes, as tribal carvers do. This is how STI works.
Photo/ Tulalip News, Brandi N. Montreuil
“They were so thrilled to write to the tribes and wait for a response,” said Craig, “A lot of these students are learning about tribes for the first time while others are learning more about their own tribes. This work is about empowering them. It really is amazing to see how passionate they are about learning this stuff.”
TULALIP – A security operations management firm called New Dawn Security has partnered with Tulalip Police Department to assess risks and develop plans to mitigate risks. New Dawn who primarily works with school districts was approached last summer by Tulalip Police Chief Carlos Echevarria who saw a need for an increased risk assessment plan at the Tulalip/ Marysville School Campus, which includes the Quil Ceda & Tulalip Elementary, Heritage High School, 10th Street Middle School and Arts & Technology High School.
“I met Sean Spellecy at a meeting hosted by the Marysville Police Department where he was presenting on New Dawn. We have all heard of the statistics across Indian country about violence and crime. So when we look at Indian country violence, and children exposed to violence and drugs, we see there is a need in our tribal communities for our children to be safe and that also includes the one place they spend the most time at. When Sean’s presentation included the 26 Safe School Standards developed by the Department of Justice, I was sold. I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Echevarria.
The set of school safety standards created by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice can be embedded into day-to-day school operations to make schools as safe as possible. New Dawn has developed a system based off the 26 Safe School Standards to measure a school’s safety rating.
“The first thing we do is a prevention assessment. What is currently in place to be able to prevent all of the risks that you could potentially face. This also goes for medical emergencies all the way down to transportation accidents, all of it. Anything that interrupts education environment or harms kids,” said New Dawn Security creator Sean Spellecy, a retired school principal.
During the tenure of Spellecy’s education career, horrendous crimes committed against his students prompted him to develop a program to keep students and schools safe, later called New Dawn Security.
“Ten years ago schools didn’t have to worry about 90 percent of the stuff that they have to worry about today,” said Spellecy.
Evolving monthly plans are developed according to each school’s assessment risks. These plans include training for educators on medical emergency prevention, active shooter prevention protocols, sexual abuse and misconduct protocols, crisis response and increasing police patrols and hosting law enforcement days where students learn how law enforcement work to keep them safe. Assessment risk plans can also include implementing safer locks and alarm systems, assessing the safety of school grounds, like checking for blinds spots where students may gather, anti-bullying, and what to do in case of food allergies.
Spellecy contacted Marysville School District to discuss including all district schools in a service contract following the discussions with Chief Echevarria about schools located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The district declined services last August due to budget concerns.
Ray Houser Marysville School District Assistant Superintendent said, “At the point in the school year when New Dawn approached us, we had not set aside specific resources or have a budget line item reserved for their type of service. Graciously New Dawn offered to conduct some piloting of their services, which we thankfully accepted. Following the piloting of New Dawn’s services, we began researching, and continue to research, their service as well as a number of other organizations that provide such services.”
Despite the decline for services by the district, the proximity of the Tulalip/Marysville Campus schools to the reservation compelled Chief Echevarria to seek funding from the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors to seal a contract for New Dawn services for the schools.
The contract is paid out of the police department’s annual budget. Chief Echevarria said, “I didn’t want the cost of the program to be a hindrance or a deterrent for us. Once I received the go-ahead, I was going to find the funding. It was that important and that much of a need then that I was willing to do that.”
Tulalip Police Department has signed a two-year contract with New Dawn Security. Evolving monthly plans will be developed based on assessment risk needs.
“Every single staff member at all four schools has been trained on the warning signs of a potentially violent individual and lockdown procedures protocols of the district. They had all been trained on alert, avoid, deny and defend prior to October 24,” said Spellecy.
“Having police in schools helps tremendously. Having cameras in schools helps but that only covers just one or two of the safe school standards that go out throughout the school. There is parent and student education, all this plays a part in keeping schools safe. Each of us shares a piece of this puzzle to make these schools as safe as possible. Times are changing. The role of principals to just focus on education is over, now they have to be experts in every field of safety. If I can alleviate some of that and look at school safety differently, as well as create immediate response plans on what occurs then I believe we are achieving our goals,” said Spellecy.
For more information on the New Dawn Security and the 26 Safe School Standards visit the website www.newdawnsecurity.com.
Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; email@example.com
TULALIP – Marysville School District’s recent decision to adopt the Since Time Immemorial curriculum as part of their standard curriculum was a big step in addressing the need for Native representation in their schools. Cultural specialist Chelsea Craig, a Tulalip Tribal member who works at the district’s Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary school says, implementing STI alone will not be enough to address the disconnect schools have with Native students. She is hoping a new change in the district’s paraprofessional requirements will help close that gap.
Paraprofessionals according to the district’s website are “responsible for providing assistance to students under the direct supervision of certificated staff in classrooms or other learning environments as assigned. Although not certified as teachers they act as assistants to teachers and other school staff, making this position great for those who are seeking a career in education. To become a paraprofessional one needed a two-year degree as part of the requirement list that includes background check and ability to pass district training. Now the two-year degree requirement has been dropped and replaced with the requirement to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This change is what Craig is hoping her Native people take advantage of and become involved with their local schools.
“Historically our people have had a mistrust in education, starting from the boarding school era, and then each generation [following] there is still an underlining feeling of mistrust. By having more Native faces in the schools it helps to make schools feel less like an institution to our Native students and more like a family atmosphere,” said Craig.
Four Marysville School District schools are located on the Tulalip Reservation. The schools’ student population adds to the large number of Native students scattered throughout the district. This high concentration of Native students makes a unique partnership between the Tribes and the district. Together both have created initiatives to support students and close the achievement gap, especially in math and literacy.
“Passing STI was huge because we all bring our own wealth of knowledge about who we are and we can share that with our kids,” said Craig.
STI curriculum provides a basic framework of accurate Indian history and understanding of sovereignty that is integrated into standard learning units. Teachers are provided training on tribal history and culture. Quil Ceda has taught this style for some time, gaining national attention for their diverse school culture.
“We are finding that when we teach about culturally relevant topics the engagement is naturally much higher. The kids are motivated to do their work and they are excited about learning about their own culture, and non-Indian students are excited about learning as well. We just need as many Native faces on campus as possible, and if we can’t have them as teachers, having them as paraprofessionals is a great next step,” said Craig. “It makes such a big difference for our kids to see their own people in roles that are inspirational to them.”
If you are interested in becoming a paraprofessional with the Marysville School District visit their website at www.msd25.org or call the district at 360-653-7058.
Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; firstname.lastname@example.org
Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary gym was packed wall to wall with students and community members who assembled to celebrate Tulalip Heritage Day. Students were encouraged to wear traditional regalia according to their tribal cultures. Tulalip pride was on full display as many students wore traditional Coast Salish garb featuring cedar headbands, abalone shells and wool. Other students wore traditional pow wow regalia according to their style of dance. Traditional Tulalip song and dance was performed for audience members, including Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg who was in attendance as a show of support for Native students and respect of Tulalip culture.
Students were encouraged to bring their drums. As Co-principal Dr. Craig said, “Some students have never drummed before and learn by attending and drumming with the Tulalip members who attend the morning assemblies. This gives Native students an opportunity to learn their culture in a safe positive environment.”
Children adorned in their tribal regalia danced in the middle of the gym while the Tulalip drummers and singers filled the air with their traditional, enchanting sound.
The proud heritage of Tulalip was best demonstrated when the Tulalip Canoe Family sang their “Happy Song.” All the elementary students are familiar with the “Happy Song” as they sing it with school faculty at every morning assembly. When the Tulalip Canoe Family performed, their hand movements were gleefully mirrored by the students as they sang along. During the “Happy Song” performance, all the students were transformed into Tulalip performers.
Matt Remle, tribal liaison for Marysville School District and Lakota Native from the Standing Rock Reservation, shared a traditional Lakota song about uplifting one another. During the event he took to Facebook to remark on the importance of the even for Native students posting, “It was beautiful to see the tremendous community support, as well as, see so many young ones singing, drumming, and dancing. This is real education, indigenous education, and empowerment.”
The morning’s assembly marks an important change in history for Tulalip students who previously were not allowed to celebrate or practice their traditional customs, which were prohibited during the boarding school era.
Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip Tribes board member, was also in attendance and spoke to the students about the origins of Tulalip Day. As she explained, “In the 1980s, our Board of Directors actually changed the holiday and made the Friday after Thanksgiving Tulalip Day. Tulalip does not actually recognize Columbus Day, we recognize Tulalip Day.”
After the assembly concluded Principal DeWitte commented on the impact of displaying and teaching Tulalip culture to the students. “Because we do it every day it becomes a part of who we are.”
Anthony Craig, co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, received the “Outstanding Young Educator” award on Sept. 2.
Christopher Andersson Anthony Craig (center), co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, stands with his wife and children next to him and Marysville education leaders behind him after being given the “Outstanding Young Educator” award during the Sept. 2 Marysville School Board meeting.
By Christopher Andersson, North County Outlook
The co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, Anthony Craig, was recognized by a prominent Washington education group as their “Outstanding Young Educator” of the year.
Craig, who is of Native American heritage himself, was recognized for bringing “culturally competent” practices to his school and being an advocate for Native American students.
The Washington State Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (WSASCD) announced the award during the Sept. 2 school board meeting.
“The Outstanding Young Educator award is our way of recognizing an emerging educational leader and share his or her exemplary practices with the education community at large,” said Art Jarvis, executive director of WSASCD.
Craig said he was humbled with the award and thanked his colleagues and everyone who has helped him to serve the students.
“I do this to serve my community, but also because my grandmother worked very hard so that I could go to college and be a teacher,” he said. “I once asked her what she wanted to do and she said ‘I wanted to be a teacher, but Indians didn’t go to college then, so you can do that.’ So I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people that came before me.”
Craig completed his Doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in 2012.
Since then he has become a published author in the Journal of Staff Development and will write a full chapter in the upcoming book “Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Native American Students: Paying the Education Debt.”
Craig is committed to social justice and advocating in various roles for his students, according to a peer statement read by director of teaching and learning at the district, Kyle Kinoshita.
“Over the years he worked at Tulalip he provided exceptional instructional leadership,” read Kinoshita. “The evidence was seen in the classroom where instructional improvement was traceable to how Anthony modeled, supported and led the learning of the teachers he worked with and demonstrated some of his early leadership capabilities.”
This leadership led him to become co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and help provide space for all his students.
“Dr. Craig has shown a deep commitment to serving the students in the school and creating an identity-safe place for all students. He has had the courage to confront racism and elitism in a culture of low expectations and done so in a way that unites people, rather than as a way that divides,” wrote Marysville superintendent Becky Berg in a statement.
Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary still sees low scores on state assessments, however Berg points to the improvements that early grades have shown with high levels of achievement in district assessments.
She says the culturally competent practices and data teams implemented by Craig have helped to better engage with Native American students.
Despite the scores, Berg praised the school as “one of the most successful she has ever seen” when it comes to rebuilding education for tribal students
“Yes, the students are not at an acceptable state achievement level yet, but it takes more than three years to reverse decades of malpractice when it comes to the needs of First Nations children,” she wrote.