School is out for all Washington State students for the rest of the academic year because of Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order aimed at minimizing the coronavirus contagion. It’s been nearly two months since the devoted teachers of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) experienced the rambunctious youth they are normally responsible for educating on a daily basis. Over that span, both teacher and student have grown quite restless from their powerful bond being swiftly taken away thanks to an unforeseen global pandemic.
That student-teacher connection was briefly reestablished on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 28, when QCT educators eagerly assembled for a positivity-filled parade through the Tulalip Reservation. Over 70+ vehicles, many of which were decorated with loving messages to their students like ‘We miss you!’, ‘You are amazing’ or ‘Stay safe!’, formed a caravan that was escorted by a bright yellow school bus to the reservation’s many residential neighborhoods.
“We’re Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and we do everything together,” explained caravan coordinator Toni Otto. She also serves as a family support liaison at QCT. “As most people know, we are a crazy bunch of people who really love our students and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for them.
“Our biggest message for our kids is that just because we aren’t in school together doesn’t mean we’re not here for you,” continued Toni. “We are very much here for you still and can’t wait to have you all back in school.”
As the caravan maneuvered through the reservation, going from neighborhood to neighborhood, it was greeted by eagerly awaiting students beaming with smiles and continuous waving once they caught glimpses of the familiar faces. Several students made their own signs to proudly display as the caravan rolled through.
“I miss school,” shared 6-year-old Keenan Sicade as he waited curbside for the chance to show his teachers his bright green sign. “I miss my friends, I miss school, and I miss getting my brain bigger.”
A group of QCT students ranging from kindergarten to 3rd grade, Michael, Mackenzie, Aubrey and Andrea could barely contain their excitement while waiting in their parent’s van to see their teachers. “I miss math and homework!” yelled out one of the super enthusiastic foursome, while another admitted to “missing recess more than anything.”
The teacher-led caravan lasted over 2-hours and created countless memories for everyone involved. From hand written messages on vehicle windows ranging from classroom rosters, like that of Ms. Cawley and Miss Breezy, to Lushootseed inspiration, like Ms. Sablan’s hand crafted roof ornament, the QCT educators brought joy, positivity, and air hugs galore to their home-bound students.
“My heart is bursting!” exclaimed Tony after the caravan’s conclusion. “We have the most energetic, dedicated, and loving staff. Thank you to everyone for making this a great success.
“Seeing our students and their families is exactly the medicine we all needed. As professionals who work in the education field, we need our students. Would we rather have them in our classrooms and in our school? Absolutely! Does this minor substitution help to ease the heartache of not being able to have them with us? Totally! I believe we made memories today that will last a lifetime in our hearts as well as our students’ hearts.”
Two quick stats. First, at least 124,000 public and private schools in the United States have closed due to coronavirus concerns. Second, approximately 55 million students are impacted by these widespread school closures. The stark reality for many families is they are left struggling to cope with an unprecedented global pandemic while being responsible for their now home-bound children’s education.
Tulalip tribal member Angela Davis understands the complexities involved with homeschooling children. Her three children 15-year-old Samara, 14-year-old Samuel and 12-year-old Abigail have been homeschooled their entire life. Together with her spouse, Angela and John Davis III have a system that is proven to be effective and successful.
While residing on the Tulalip Reservation, their children attend school from the comforts of home. In fact, inside the Davis residence is a dedicated education room with three desks, a white board, projector, and a book shelf full of textbooks and miscellaneous reading material.
Angela was gracious enough to do an interview with Tulalip News. What follows is a condensed transcription of that interview in which the veteran homeschooler offers a number of tips and insights for parents new to the homeschool scene.
SYS: Your three children have only been homeschooled. What prompted you and your husband to opt for this?
Angela: Our number one priority is the safety of our children. The world has changed from when we were kids. We might have had our bullies at school, but for the most part we weren’t exposed to too much. Today, students are exposed to so many different situations that take away from enjoying life and learning. Unfortunately, when it comes to bullying at school (whether it is from another student or a teacher/staff) it seems like it is getting more and more difficult for the school to take action and rectify the situation. From many aspects, it is unfortunate our tribal kids have to deal with that.
SYS: From your experience, what are some of the best benefits to having your children learn from home?
Angela: A big benefit is allowing your children to learn more than what the public school curriculum provides. As we have seen, there is a lot of misinformation about history and so many other things being taught. By homeschooling we get to choose how information is given to our children, meaning there is just not one perspective given, but many. Our children take in multiple perspectives and then can make an educated decision on what they choose to believe.
SYS: Do you find this kind of learning flexible to more out of the classroom teaching?
Angela: Yes, we do. Flexibility is another added benefit. For example, if we wanted to go on a field trip to learn about a particular subject we can go at any time. If we have appointments during the day, we can just catch up later or the following day. If we wanted to or needed to travel we could take homeschooling with us. Balancing life and learning for each family’s situation is doable once you find a comfortable structure.
SYS: Structure and adhering to a consistent schedule have to be critical to long-term success, right?
Angela: Absolutely. Although the structure of a schedule is dependent on each family’s situation and what works best for them. We tend to believe getting up early and starting school at a regular time is most effective for consistency. Sticking to this kind of daily structure prepares children to become productive adults who enter the workforce or start their own business.
SYS: For parents with multiple children, like yourself, there might be a tendency to feel like you have to divide up your time unequally. How do you deal with that?
Angela: We focus on the fact that our children at home receive more one-on-one attention than they would in a public school setting. If you have a class of 25 students versus a class of 3 students, the attention of the teacher is not divided nearly as much. Plus, we are able to spend more time with a child that is struggling, while the other two continue to do their work.
If a family has children that are more separated in age, they may need to get a little more creative on who gets the “teachers” attention and when. Also, the older children can help their siblings with subjects as needed, so it can become a family effort to educate each other.
SYS: How do you decide which curriculum to teach? Is there a guide you follow day by day or week by week?
Angela: The good news is that it is up to the parents to choose. There are many options to choose from. I have learned that you have to consider two things: 1.) The parents’ teaching style and 2.) The child’s learning style.
I suggest parents do some research to figure out what style works best for them and how they learn the best. Parents also need to go in with the understanding that what they first choose might not work the best for them or only certain parts of it might work and certain parts don’t. They can change to a different curriculum at any time.
We’ve alternated between textbooks, online programs, using the school district’s K-12 program, and even mixing multiple sources. It really is up to the parent as long as they are teaching the core subjects.
SYS: When you get stuck or need assistance with a certain subject, either learning it yourself or teaching it, what do you do?
SYS: Besides the book schooling, do you make learning other skills like art, craft making or instruments part of the typical routine?
Angela: Yes, we do. It is important to balance book work with hands-on skills and activities to help keep the kids engaged. This way they are exposed to new skills that may turn into their passion. Our family stresses the need to learn hands-on skills so that they will always have something to fall back on if they are having difficulties in the workforce. We also explain that with these skills, they may be able to start their own businesses and be self-sufficient.
SYS: What activities or skills have you found your kids most engage in?
Angela: All types really. We’ve had them dabble in piano lessons, singing, computer programming, and making clothes with a sewing machine. All three have developed their own personal style when it comes to traditional arts and crafts. They’ve made beaded hoop earrings, traditional hand drums, and look forward to submitting their creations in various categories at the Tribe’s annual art festival.
SYS: What resources do you look to or recommend for families who are struggling with homeschooling?
Angela: There are so many resources available, but my first go to is researching online at the Washington Homeschool Organization (WHO). They provide a lot of information in one place, such as the laws for the state, training for the parents, and many other resources. https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/the-law/
Some other websites to help with determining what system works best for your family would be curriculum reviews and teaching methods:
SYS: Last question. Has the current Coronavirus crisis affected your kids’ ability to be educated in any way? And have you added the global impacts of COVID-19 into their curriculum?
Angela: The Coronavirus crisis has not affected my kids’ ability to be educated in any way. Our curriculum is mostly textbook based so we have all the items we need at home, and if we were completely online, that would not have affected us either.
Our normal teachings include real world and current events in which my children are very aware of what is going on in our Tulalip community, state, country and even globally. This information is incorporated as part of our curriculum on a daily basis.
The biggest impact that this crisis has had on my children is not being able to go out freely as before, whether if it was to a field trip or a community event, or simply visiting their grandparents and family. Fortunately, we have technology that still allows for us to connect and continue to learn.
All schools are closed in Washington State for at least another month, as part of a state-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been over three weeks since students in the Marysville School District (MSD) have been in their classrooms and received formal education from their teachers.
While schools will remain closed for the foreseeable future, education must continue. That is why the dedicated staff and educators of MSD are doing their part to bring learning opportunities into the home of every MSD student household.
“Our main purpose is to make sure our students receive a Chromebook to continue their education even though they aren’t attending school right now,” explained MSD Superintendent Jason Thompson. “We also have an assortment of school supplies, hygiene kits and grade-level activity packets for kids to work on. It’s so important to make sure our kids are still learning every day.”
During the fourth week of March, the District held two drive-up, K-5 Chromebook checkouts for its elementary students. Because sixth graders on up to high school seniors were already assigned Chromebooks earlier in the school year, these drive-up style distributions were only for households with Kindergarten through fifth grade students.
“These two distribution events took a lot of work to put together, but knowing our students will benefit immensely makes it all worth it,” said assistant superintendent Scott Beebe. “With these Chromebooks our students will now be able to video chat with their teachers and fellow students. It’s a big undertaking, but the results will be amazing.”
Each Chromebook was individually inspected by tech-savvy personnel to ensure they were updated with the right software and programs to meet students’ needs for the new normal: distance-learning.
On Thursday, March 26 the second Chromebook checkout occurred at the MSD’s Service Center. Originally slated to begin at 2:00 p.m., vehicles started to line-up much earlier with concerned parents who worried about a limited supply and wanted to make sure their student received a coveted Chromebook. As cars continued to show, the line got longer and longer. At one point the line of vehicles spanned multiple city blocks, running down both State and Cedar Streets.
From young Kindergartners to veteran 5th graders, many students were ecstatic to see their teachers and school staff as their parents drove them through the checkout process. In their excitement, several kids were witnessed unbuckling themselves and nearly climbing out their backseat window to wave and say hello to their favorite teacher.
The majority of Tulalip K-12 students attend schools within Maryville School District. Tribal member parents and kids were among those who waited upwards of 90-minutes to checkout a Chromebook. They could also take advantage of the additional school supplies and in-demand hygiene kits being offered.
“We waited in line for a strong hour-and-a-half to get our boys a Chromebook,” said Carlos Ancheta. “Stores are low on supplies right now, so getting these basic essentials for school and hygiene will come in handy.”
Not every household has a home computer, setup for video chatting, and access to the internet or WIFI. During checkout if a parent submitted paperwork for their student saying they did not have internet access at home, then they received a Chromebook with built in cellular data provided by Sprint. By dispersing these specific Chromebooks to MSD students the opportunity gap normally created by lack of internet access has been filled.
“We’re really blessed to have a school district that cares so much about our kids,” shared Sheena Robinson after her two sons got their Chromebook and supplies. “We don’t have a computer or the internet at home, so this makes a world of difference for them. They’ll be able to get online for classes through Zoom, conferences with their teachers, and websites they can practice their reading and math. I’m looking forward to them getting back to learning.”
After completion of both drive-up checkouts, Marysville School District staff distributed over 1,000 Chromebooks to their elementary-aged families. Students also received an assortment of school supplies and hygiene kits to reduce the financial burden their families may be going through during this unprecedented school closure. Getting back to a daily routine of these cheerful kids continuing their education can provide a critical sense of stability in these uncertain times.
Below are Marysville School District food distribution routes and times, for the Quil Ceda Tulalip area, for delivering food (breakfast and lunch) to students. Matt Remle, Marysville Pilchuck High School Native Liaison, will be on the Quil-Ceda Tulalip route. Matt and fellow volunteers delivered over 3,500 meals on Monday, March 23.
Visit www.msd25.org for more information.
Grab and go meals from the bus locations will continue to be at no cost and for all youth ages 1-18 and those enrolled in the 18-21-year program.
Quil Ceda Tulalip Area
10:12 AM MARINE DR NW @ EDWARD BEATTY RD
10:18 AM 8208 MARINE DR NW
10:19 AM MARINE DR NW @ 83RD PL NW
10:28 AM MARINE DR NW @ 115TH ST NW
10:33 AM 12015 MARINE DR NW – PORT SUSAN
10:38 AM MARINE DR NW @ 126TH ST NW
10:46 AM 135TH PL NW @ MARINE DR NW
10:50 AM 135TH PL NW @ MARINE DR NW
10:51 AM 12702 MARINE DR NW
10:52 AM 12610 MARINE DR NW
10:57 AM 12518 MARINE DR NW
10:58 AM 11710 MARINE DR NW
11:02 AM MARINE DR NW @ 115TH ST NW
11:08 AM MARINE DR NW @ TULALIP SHORES RD
11:14 AM 8226 MARINE DR NW
11:18 AM HERMOSA BEACH RD @ SHOEMAKER RD
11:25 AM HERMOSA BEACH RD@77TH PL NW
11:40 AM 77TH PL NW @ 42ND DR NW
11:44 AM 42ND DR NW @ 78TH PL NW
11:53 AM WALTER MOSES JR DR @ 28TH DR NW
12:01 PM LARRY PRICE LP RD@EZRA HATCH RD
12:18 PM 7330 LARRY PRICE LP RD
10:10 AM 140TH ST NW @ 76TH AVE NW
10:15 AM 140TH ST NW @ 63RD DR NW
10:15 AM 140TH ST NW @ 58TH AVE NW
10:20 AM 140TH ST NW @ 52ND AVE NW
10:21 AM 4500 140TH ST NW
10:28 AM 138TH ST NW@ 36TH DR NW
10:35 AM 3520 140TH ST NW
10:39 AM 140TH ST NW @ 34TH AVE NW
10:43 AM 3018 140TH ST NW
10:51 AM 12TH AVE NW @ 134TH ST NW
10:56 AM 13218 12TH AVE NW
11:01 AM 13030 12TH AVE NW
11:06 AM 12TH AVE NW @ 130TH ST NW
11:15 AM 12TH AVE NW@128TH ST NW
11:20 AM 12616 12TH AVE NW
11:24 AM 12512 12TH AVE NW
11:29 AM 908 124TH PL NW
11:33 AM 8TH DR NW @ 125TH PL NW
11:42 AM 129TH PL NW @ 8TH DR NW
11:46 AM 8TH DR NW @ 131ST ST NW
11:54 AM 131ST ST NW @ 10TH AVE NW
10:24 AM 22ND DR NE@22ND DR NE
10:29 AM 22ND DR NE @ 21ST DR NE
10:36 AM 21ST DR NE @ 67TH PL NE
10:40 AM 21ST DR NE @ STURGEON DR
10:45 AM 65TH ST NE @ 20TH DR NE
10:58 AM 20TH DR NE @ 66TH PL NE
11:05 AM 19TH DR NE@20TH DR NE
11:12 AM 19TH DR NE @ 70TH PL NE
11:22 AM 72ND ST NE@19TH AVE NE
11:31 AM 6832/6828 19TH AVE NE
11:37 AM MARINE DR NE @ 14TH AVE NE
11:38 AM 905 MARINE DR NE
11:39 AM MARINE DR NE @ 7TH AVE NE
11:45 AM MARINE DR NE @ 2ND AVE NE
11:50 AM 715 MARINE DR NW
11:51 AM 4431 PRIEST POINT DR NW
12:00 PM PRIEST POINT DR NW @ GAYS DR
12:05 PM MERIDIAN AVE N@PRIEST POINT DR NW
12:09 PM MERIDIAN AVE N @ 4425 MERIDIAN AVE N – SNUG HARBOR
12:19 PM 4425 MERIDIAN AVE N
12:25 PM 928 MARINE DR NE
12:26 PM 1118 MARINE DR NE
12:26 PM 1718 MARINE DR NE
12:27 PM MARINE DR NE @ 23RD AVE NE
10:14 AM 5710 MERIDIAN AVE N
10:19 AM 5802 MERIDIAN AVE N
10:19 AM 5933 MERIDIAN AVE N
10:24 AM 60TH ST NW@6TH AVE NW
10:25 AM 6TH AVE NW @ 57TH PL NW
10:25 AM 6TH AVE NW @ 56TH ST NW
10:26 AM 5408 6TH AVE NW
10:31 AM 5028 67TH AVE NW
10:32 AM 905 MARINE DR NW
10:37 AM MARINE DR NW @ 56TH ST NW
10:37 AM MARINE DR NW @ 62ND ST NW
10:51 AM LLOYD HATCH SR DR @ ALPHONSUS BOB LOOP D
11:01 AM TOTEM BEACH RD@70TH ST NW
11:18 AM TOTEM BEACH RD @ 28TH AVE NW
11:19 AM 6700 TOTEM BEACH RD – FITNESS CLUB
11:25 AM MISSION BEACH RD @ MISSIONS HILL RD
11:30 AM 5916 MISSION BEACH RD
11:34 AM 3213 MISSION BEACH DR
11:35 AM 3409 MISSION BEACH DR
11:42 AM MISSION BEACH DR @ 39TH DR NW
11:44 AM MISSION BEACH DR @ MISSION BEACH HTS RD
11:50 AM JOSEPH CHARLES JR LP @ JOSEPH CHARLES LP RD
Beep. Beep. Beep. The high-pitched sound of a truck backing up echoed throughout the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) property on the morning of Thursday, March 12. The current group of enrolled TVTC students watched, with bright smiles on their faces and coffees in hand, while the first of thirteen tiny houses were lifted effortlessly onto the back of a flat-bed truck, simply by the command of a few controls that were located on the side of the vehicle.
A longtime partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, TVTC and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), a non-profit based out of Seattle, led to the distribution of the thirteen, 120-square foot homes, which will be set up in various tiny home communities throughout the greater Seattle area. Originally making local headlines two years ago, LIHI and Tribal representatives celebrated a momentous occasion when three TVTC tiny houses were established in the Georgetown Tiny House Village to provide shelter to people without a place to call home.
But the partnership was intact years prior to the 2017 Georgetown celebration when LIHI originally commissioned tiny homes from the training center in 2015, which in turn supplied TVTC students with lumber, tools and resources to complete the 16-week hands-on construction course. TVTC is offered to tribal members from all nations and their spouses. In addition to building the tiny homes, the students earn a number of certifications by learning skills that can be applied in various well-paying fields of the construction trade including carpentry, cementing, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical work.
“Three groups of students built these,” explained TVTC Instructor Mark Newland about the thirteen tiny homes. “Typically you build four a term. It’s really gratifying, especially after you go to meetings and talk to the people, many times it’s females with young children, who have gone from living in tents to moving into one of these tiny houses where you can lock the door, have privacy, get ready for job interviews, have some security, and be able to sleep at night out of the wind, out of the cold.”
Constructing a tiny home has easily become a main attraction of the TVTC course. Seeing the fruits of their hard, manual labor put to use in a good way shows the students the real life impact their two hands can create.
Although this group of students did not construct this particular set of tiny houses, they showed a sense of pride as the first tiny home was expedited away to its new homeowners. The students exchanged sentiments along the lines of ‘that was pretty cool’, knowing that the work of previous TVTC craftsmen are aiding people in need of shelter and/or security, especially at a time when social distancing and seclusion is being stressed upon the citizens of Washington State, which includes over 20,000 people without a place of residence.
“The best thing, and the thing I am most excited about, is that these homes are going to be used right away,” Mark said. “All of the students are very proud of the tiny homes, it gives them a real sense of understanding in the importance of giving back. There’s a lot of ideas and speculation about people who are on the street, but it’s found that if they have homes first, then they can work on their other issues.”
Finishing their coffee and tightening their tool belts, the current TVTC students followed their teachers indoors for another full day of construction instruction with a refreshed and rejuvenated perspective on the effects of their new trade. Ultimately, the Tribe’s goal is to have a tiny home community at Tulalip to help Tribal individuals and families get back on their feet, with TVTC students constructing the homes for the entire project.
“This group here is currently working on a bigger model of tiny houses that are going to Sand Point, by Lake Washington,” Mark explained. “These are much larger and sophisticated modules. The next group will be the first to work on nice-sized tiny homes right here for Tulalip – and that’s what we’re really looking forward to. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to work on this project because this is where I live too. I see a lot of people that need shelter, and Tulalip is putting homes first and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
For further details regarding the TVTC program, please contact TERO at (360) 716-4747.
“This is my third year with Lushootseed and I’m now realizing how much healing that the kids are getting from learning the language,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Language Instructor, Oceana Alday. “It’s beautiful to watch because I don’t think they realize that they are ones who are revitalizing the language that our ancestors once spoke.”
For nearly three generations, the Lushootseed Language department has been on a mission to reintroduce the ancestral Coast Salish language back into lifeways of modern day Tulalip. Recently the program made local headlines by helping bring back Lushootseed classes to Marysville-Pilchuck High School (MP) and also instructing those classes. This news is especially important for Tulalip students who wish to continue studying the vernacular of their people. Most present day Tulalip youth began their educational journey with Lushootseed many years ago, around the ages of 3 and 4-years-old at the Tulalip Montessori.
During the early 1990’s, a seed was planted in the name of cultural revitalization when the development of the Lushootseed Language department came to fruition. With only two staff members initially, Toby Langen and Hank Gobin, the department set out to build a foundation by teaching their community the words, phrases and pronunciation of the language that Snohomish people spoke since the beginning of time. After colonization, forced assimilation and the years of generational trauma that followed, the cultural resurgence appeared to be much needed within the Tulalip community and ever since, the language has served as a great source of medicine for the people.
“To me, the language means that we are speaking what our ancestors used to speak. We are bringing it back,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Program Manager, Michele Balagot. “The program was developed in 1993 and we’ve taught it in schools since. It was one class when they first started teaching. We’ve grown from four teachers and six classes to fourteen language teachers and well over thirty classes; two at MP, two at Heritage, two college level classes. There are four or five classes at Quil Ceda Tulalip [Elementary], and we teach fourteen, birth-to-three classrooms and ten preschool classrooms at the academy.”
When the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) first opened in 2015, the Lushootseed Language classes resumed for most of the Montessori and ECEAP students. However, over time, as both programs continued to grow, the demand for more language within the classroom rose quickly and resulted in the hiring of new Lushootseed instructors, who are also commonly referred to as Language Warriors.
“We thought we should be teaching them young because this is when they are developing their brains,” Michele explained. “If they start hearing Lushootseed from the beginning of their education, they’ll learn the sounds and know some of the words. On the preschool side, we are focused on teaching them sentences so when they get to elementary school, they can work more on phrases. And in junior high and high school, they’ll be able to have full conversations.”
Perhaps due to the success of the preschool age classes, or simply a desire to ensure the language is embedded into the young minds of future Tulalip leaders, TELA joined forces with the language department in 2017 to implement a new component into their curriculum known as language immersion. Today, every TELA student receives daily language lessons each morning, Monday through Thursday, and for the first time that includes the birth-to-three age group.
“It’s pretty exciting working with the birth-to-three level,” said Language Warrior, Thomas Williams. “It’s amazing seeing them express what they’ve learned. I’ll hold up a flash card and they’ll quickly respond with the word in Lushootseed. The last couple of weeks we’ve been doing traditional stories. Usually, I go in and sing a handful of songs with them. But we tried something a little more progressive for their age group where we get them to listen to a story. We did a felt board story and for that age, it took two weeks introducing them to the characters with flash cards and mini games. They’ve already memorized the characters. And going through the stories, they are starting to express what the characters are doing and what’s going to happen to them by the end of the story, all in the language.”
While the youngest tribal members get more acquainted with the basics of the verb-based language, the big kids on the preschool side of the academy fine-tune what they’ve learned. By participating in a language warm-up exercise at the start of each class, they use flashcards to identify a number of animals and marine life before starting their daily lesson complete with songs, stories and games conducted entirely in Lushootseed.
“We did Lushootseed today,” exclaimed TELA Student, Anastasia Clower. “We learned the words for octopuses, crabs, clams, sea lions. My favorite Lushootseed word is bəsqʷ, which means crab. I don’t like to eat bəsqʷ, but they are still really cool. I’m going to the beach on my birthday and I’m going to look for some bəsqʷ and I’m going to try to catch a sʔuladxʷ (salmon) too. I can’t wait!”
“I know sup̓qs and bəsqʷ, those mean seal and crab!” enthusiastically added fellow TELA student, Elaina Luquin. “I also know Lushootseed songs, not all of them but a lot of them. I sing them at my home too. My mom has the story about the bəsqʷ and we sing it together. I really like it a lot.”
Although still early in the process of the language immersion project, hearing Lushootseed from tribal youth at such young age is incredible. Paired with the Academy’s monthly culture day, which the language department frequently assists with, tribal students are building up a strong sense of pride in their Coast Salish identity and heritage.
“I’m just so grateful that our teachers and our children are so in love with the culture and the language; we just keep doing the work and it keeps growing,” said TELA Director Sheryl Fryberg at a recent culture day event.
By offering classes to the Academy, the language department is setting the stage for their next generation of Tribal leaders. By partnering with TELA and participating in the language immersion curriculum this is the first time, since perhaps the pre-colonial era, that Lushootseed will be present during multiple stages of a young sduhubš life’s journey, beginning at birth and ideally extending to their college years and beyond.
“We are building a foundation for future speakers,” expressed Lushootseed Language Warrior, Lois Landgrebe. “It makes me feel hopeful when we get them to reply first in Lushootseed instead of in English. It can be a slow process, but it’s bringing our Native language forward in their comprehension, when that happens its promising.”
The ultimate goal for the department is to have a future generation of language warriors who can speak Lushootseed fluently, and will do their part to ensure the language never dies. Therefore, the Lushootseed department would like to send out a friendly challenge for all Tulalip community members to speak Lushootseed to the youth as often as possible.
“It’s a very hard language to learn but it’s rewarding to hear the students speaking it,” Michele stated. “It’s very important not only for us adults, but for the kids to carry it on so we don’t lose it. We encourage everybody, when you see the kids, to speak to them in Lushootseed, so they know they can practice the language whenever they wish and that it’s not only meant to be used for school. Greet them in the language of our people and I know you’ll be surprised to hear their response.”
For more information, please contact the Tulalip Lushootseed Language department at (360) 716-4499 or visit their website www.TulalipLushootseed.com
“I love science a lot because it makes me happy,” exclaimed young Taliah Bradford. “I like doing experiments at school with my friends.”
Every Friday the pre-school students of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) gather in the Deer classroom for Little Science Lab to learn about the wondrous world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Sitting crisscross applesauce, the students give their undivided attention to Ms. Pam, of the Imagine Children’s Museum, as she guides them through thirty minutes of hands-on activities where they learn how the universe operates.
On the morning of January 31, the kids hurried to their seats to learn about one of Mother Earth’s elements, air. As she began her lesson, Ms. Pam asked the students the name of the layer of air and gasses that encompasses the earth, hinting they learned about it during their last class. Once it clicked, the students all called out together, ‘the atmosphere’.
“It’s amazing to see these young 3 and 4-year-olds use advanced science vocabulary,” stated Teddy Dillingham, Imagine Children’s Museum newly appointed Grants Manager and former Director of Education. “They are using that vocabulary correctly and are remembering everything. That’s really helping set them up for future success in school because it’s building their confidence and their love for STEM.”
The idea of the Little Science Labs began back in 2017 when Tulalip Charitable Fund Director, Marilyn Sheldon, encouraged the children’s museum to apply for funding through the Charitable Fund, and bring some of their experiments to the children of Tulalip.
“We’re really grateful for the Tulalip Tribes, they’ve been a longtime supporter of the museum and it seemed like a really great fit,” Teddy expressed. “Because of the Charitable Fund, we now have weekly classes here. For the academy’s summer program, we bring out our Museum on-the-go programs and align our lesson with the topics the teachers are covering. For instance, when they had their dinosaur week last summer, we brought our dino class to them.
“We also have quarterly family nights where the children can bring their families and do some of these similar activities and play at the museum. It’s really fun and the caregivers have shared they are doing some of our activities at home with their children. We have a unit on shells, and when they go to the beach, the kids are identifying the shells that they are seeing. They are finding applications in their daily life and using it, which is the ultimate goal.”
The kids continued to learn about air by playing with pinwheels, participating in interactive story time, and experimenting with sailboats made of styrofoam bowls and laminated construction paper. Blowing air in all directions, the kids watched its effect take place right before their eyes.
“I learned that air is everywhere around us,” said TELA student Cameron, as she moved her arms in big circles through the air. “We played with the boats and we blew on them to make wind and make them move. And if there’s no wind for the sail, the boat gets stuck in the same spot. I liked the story today too, it was really good. I was a butterfly!”
Last year, the established partnership between TELA and the Imagine Children’s Museum led to additional funding from the Tribe to offer free museum memberships to all enrolled Tulalip tribal members. This resulted in over 150 sign-ups and approximately 1,000 visits from Tulalip families so far. And due to more and more kids developing a love for STEM in today’s techy world, the Museum is now more popular than ever, and therefore, are working to expand their space by adding another level to their building and extending their base as far as their property line allows.
“As these students go through school and learn about the atmosphere, they are going to have this memory,” Teddy stated. “I’m a former science teacher and taught junior high. When kids showed up, they already had a vision of themselves as non-scientists, or that science is scary or science is hard. A lot of the grown-ups in their lives also had negative experiences with science. We’re setting up children when they’re young to show them how fun STEM can be, so they feel confident with it. One day they will look back and say, ‘oh yeah we blew on the boats and experimented with the balloons and pinwheels’. And they’re going to feel like, ‘okay, I already know this and can totally do this’.”
For more information about the Imagine Children’s Museum, please visit www.imaginecm.org
Through a locked door and down a short flight of stairs is a room that is about twenty-degrees warmer than the rest of Liberty Elementary school. Signs that read, ‘Caution flammable!’ cover pumps and tanks that vary in both size and shape. The boiler room requires the school’s maintenance team to arrive hours early to ensure the school is warm enough for students in the morning. The heat from the boilers is carried throughout the school to several radiators that both retain and omit the heat.
Not only are the hot radiators a first-degree burn accident waiting to happen, but the entire student body and faculty are in harm’s way of an explosion from pressure or chemical combustion, should someone untrained or curious try to regulate the facility’s temperature.
The Marysville School District (MSD) is claiming that two of their elementary schools are outdated and well past the point of renovation and are asking for support from their community. Liberty Elementary was built in 1951 and has helped mold young, local minds for nearly seventy years, while Cascade Elementary was established only six years later in 1957.
Aside from depending on the boiler system as a source of heat, both of the schools are facing a number of challenges due to the advancement of time and technology, which in many instances places their students at a learning disadvantage, including the capability to efficiently support the myriad of electronics of modern day.
Another issue the schools must address is the lack of space. Students are often seen working on one side of the hallway while cabinets filled with files and supplies line the opposite side. While each school has numerous classrooms throughout their respective buildings, they are merely sectioned off by adjustable walls and contain no doors, leaving the students exposed to danger should there be a need for lockdown, as well as open to distraction from nearby classrooms and kids wandering the halls.
And to make matters worse, the school nurse’s office at Liberty is located down an empty corridor with a large sheet covering the entryway for privacy.
“I went to Liberty and I’m 62, so it’s been there for a long time,” said Tulalip tribal member and Chairman of Citizens for Marysville Schools, Ray Sheldon Jr. “The school district is wanting to replace Liberty and Cascade. I’m hoping we can get the amount of support up in the Tulalip area, so when the time comes for Heritage [High School] and Quil Ceda Tulalip [Elementary], it won’t be such a headache.”
MSD is purposing a six-year capital levy of $1.93 per $1000 of assessed home value, equaling out to approximately $710 for taxpayers per year until 2026. The capital levy will not only provide the necessary funds to demolish and rebuild the two schools, it will increase safety for all schools within the district by paying for security cameras.
“They used to build schools with bonds, but you had to have 60% plus one in order to get the money,” Ray explained. “So they chose to do the capital levy for the simple reason that you only need 50% plus one in order for it to pass. Of course, you have to wait a few years to start building any of the schools in order for some of the money to build up. It will be a long-term process.
“Tribal members are on trust land so the levy won’t hurt them. If you live on trust land, you don’t pay those taxes if you vote yes. If you don’t live on trust land, the levy averages out to just a little over $700 a per year. What people have to understand is, yes that can be considered a lot but not as bad compared to the bigger cities. When you go to the big school districts, they pay upwards of $3,000 to $4,000 every year.”
The School District assures the community that this is just the first assignment on a list to improve the learning environment at each one of their schools and build a stronger community. Ray believes the next schools to receive a rebuild or renovations will be either Shoultes or Totem middle school, they have also been operating for decades and are in dire need of modern updates.
Recently, the capital levy has received push-back from families that live within the school district after the MSD school board announced a proposal to enforce feeder boundaries starting next year, which would limit the options of what school a child could attend based on where they live. Both the school district and the levy committee want to emphasize that this particular measure will have no effect on the boundary proposal and encourage you to make your voice heard at upcoming forums pertaining to that issue, whether you are for, or in opposition of, the school boundaries.
Many young Tulalip tribal members and students from other sovereign nations attend the grade schools. In fact, at Liberty alone Tulalip students make up over 10% of their 426 enrolled kids.
“The [school board] proposed boundaries for the next coming school year. A lot of people aren’t happy with it and are stating they’ll vote no for the levy, which will hurt overall,” expressed Ray. “The levy isn’t about the boundaries; the boundaries may never happen. The bottom line is these schools aren’t safe; it’s time to make a change. We’re really counting on our people out here. For our children, please vote yes for the Marysville School District capital levy.”
Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment will be hosting a ballot party from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Don Hatch Youth Center on February 10, be sure to submit your ballot at the party for your chance to win a raffle prize.
Educators, parents and others often place strong emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But that lengthy and expensive route often means accruing a ton of debt just to enter a highly competitive job market. College degrees may be the preferred goal for many, however there are a growing number of students who see a more hands-on future for themselves. For these individuals, unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning behind a hard day’s work, there is an abundance of opportunity within the construction industry.
Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker, electrician or heavy equipment operator, there are countless positions available for work and advancement within the trades, especially for sought after minorities like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into these desirable career paths for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).
“Not everybody wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everybody wants a desk job. I’m a lifetime fisherman that started a construction company when it became apparent we could no longer sustain ourselves simply by living off the land,” said Tulalip Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “Some want to be outside working with their hands. That’s what brings people to our training program, it gives them an opportunity to get exposure to all the different trades, learn how to function on a job site and how to get work. Graduates of TVTC enter a section of the workforce that is in high demand.”
In fact, a quick glance around the greater Seattle area and onlookers are sure to see more cranes than they can count. Along the I-5 corridor, from Tacoma to Everett, construction projects are booming and many on-site jobs continue to go unfilled. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, those within construction trades are thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 700,000 jobs nationally through 2028, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are nearly 3,000 unfilled construction jobs that pay much more than the average state wage.
Brighter horizons and prospects galore were among the reasons so many gathered to celebrate the TVTC autumn cohort’s achievement on a December morning at the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Fifteen students (including eight Tulalip tribal members and three women) were honored with a graduation banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Nearly 200 guests attended, including trade union representatives, several construction employers, and many cheerful family members.
“Our TVTC program is 100% supported by grant funds,” explained TERO director Summer Hammons. “Our TVTC graduates earned various certifications and college credits, while learning many skills that will undoubtedly make an impact on their future. We thank the Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, and the Tulalip Cares charitable fund for always supporting us. These organizations and community partners are ensuring our future leaders have viable career paths.”
TVTC is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the entire country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.
The sixteen-week program provides 501-hours of hands-on instruction, strength building exercises, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, industrial fork lift and scissor lift, 40-hour HAZWOPER, and OSHA 10-hour safety.
Homegrown Tulalip citizen Demitri Jones opted to retake the class after not being able to complete it his first time around. To jumpstart an all-new career path as a carpenter, he had to grit and grind. He maintained his full-time position as a security officer working the dreaded graveyard shift, while sacrificing convenience and lots of sleep to take the TVTC class during the day.
“My biggest takeaway is learning the benefits of hard work and dedication,” reflected Demitri. “My advice to those who already have a job but are interested in taking the class, if you really want it then make it happen. Creating a routine was so important, but knowing in the end it’ll all be worth it kept me going.”
His instructors noted he was the first in his class to gain employment. “I’m a carpenter’s apprentice right now and looking forward to journeying out, becoming a foreman or even superintendent,” added the ambitious 26-year-old.
Along with gaining a wide-range of new employment opportunities via the trades, seven diligent students took advantage of the educational aspect and earned their high school diploma.
Three hardworking ladies were among the graduates, Carla Yates (Haida), Cheyenne Frye (Arikara) and Shelbi Strom (Quinault). Each wanted to acquire a new skillset while creating a pathway to a better and brighter future.
“I really liked the class. I met some really cool people and learned so many new skills that I would have never been exposed to if I didn’t try it out,” said 20-year-old Cheyenne. Originally from North Dakota, her family relocated to the area so her mom could take the TVTC program. After graduating and seeing all the opportunity now available to her, she convinced her daughter to follow suit.
“I had zero experience with construction tools, like the nail gun and different saws. All of that was pretty intimidating at first, but after I learned to use them properly it became a lot of fun using them to complete projects,” admitted Cheyenne. “Both my parents have jobs as plumbers on the new casino project now. Hopefully I can join an electricians’ or sheet metal union and get work on that project, too.”
With hundreds of skilled-trade workers retiring every day across the state, the construction industry is in need of the next generation workforce to help build an ever-growing Snohomish County and surrounding Puget Sound communities. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area alone, construction employment increased by 6,400 jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. These are well-paying jobs that are available to people straight out of high school. It takes some grit for sure, but for those folks with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude, they can find themselves running a construction company of their own someday.
“When our student graduates go out into the world of construction, they can compete on equal footing with anybody,” declared TVTC instructor Mark Newland during the graduation ceremony. “We’re gaining traction with union companies and construction employers all over the region.
“I just can’t say enough about this class,” he continued. “From day one, they were engaged, helping each other out, and understood what they had to gain by putting their nose to the grindstone. Really amazing stuff! They’ve given me so much as their instructor and I wish them all the best.”
Those interested in being among the next available TVTC cohort or would like more information about the program, please call (360) 716-4760 or email Ltelford@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov