Sen. Murray, leaders celebrate tribe’s golden Head Start program

Muckleshoot Tribal Council members, from left, Charlotte Williams, Virginia Cross and Marie Starr present Sen. Patty Murray with a blanket during Tuesday’s 50th anniversary celebration of the tribe’s Head Start program.— image credit: Mark Klaas, Auburn Reporter

Muckleshoot Tribal Council members, from left, Charlotte Williams, Virginia Cross and Marie Starr present Sen. Patty Murray with a blanket during Tuesday’s 50th anniversary celebration of the tribe’s Head Start program.— image credit: Mark Klaas, Auburn Reporter

By Mark Klaas, Auburn Reporter

Wrapped in a warm blanket, a gift from the Muckleshoot Tribal Council, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) felt right at home Tuesday.

Murray was a special guest, joining tribal leaders, teachers, parents and children to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the tribe’s successful Head Start program.

“The Muckleshoot program was among the first tribal Head Start programs in the country. I am thrilled to see it continue to impact so many people today,” Murray told the crowd inside the Muckleshoot Tribal School gymnasium. “As a former preschool teacher myself, I have seen firsthand the kind of transformation that early learning inspires in a child.”

Murray, a ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has fought to expand access to early childhood education, to ensure schools have the resources they need and to make college affordable.

“For 50 years, Head Start has helped our country move closer to the goal of making sure every child in America has the opportunity to thrive and succeed,” Murray said. “I believe it’s one of the best investments we can make in our future.”

Murray toured the school, took in group reading and learning sessions and listened to music by performed by the Muckleshoot Head Start children. She vows to remain committed to the program and build off its success.

“I am going to continue to fight to invest in this program,” she said. “All of our young learners should have the opportunity to build their skills so they can learn, thrive and succeed, especially in a beautiful setting like this … so the culture and the language of the tribe can be shared with students at a very young age and keep Muckleshoot tradition alive for generations to come.”

The tribe’s Head Start program began as a volunteer, community-driven preschool effort in the late-1950s. In 1965, with approximately 300 enrolled members, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe received one of the first two federal Head Start grants for Native American Tribes, along with the Navajo Nation, which had approximately 100,000 enrolled members.

The program, which originated in the old GSA building in Auburn, initially served 30 children. Tribal parents were actively involved in teaching and raising the required 25 percent, non-federal match. Parents were trained in the field of child development and have continued their involvement in tribal education programs to this day.

Today, the Muckleshoot Head Start Program serves 120 children ages 3 to 5 years.

The program includes Muckleshoot cultural and language education and provides services for special needs children. Over the course of the past 50 years, Muckleshoot Head Start has provided students with the skills and confidence to be ready to learn and succeed in their continuing education.

Now called the Muckleshoot Early Learning Academy (MELA), the program includes health, family services, support services, nutrition, transportation, and program management and administration components. By focusing on the whole family, the program is better able to provide the tools for lifelong learning and success.

Federal Head Start reviews consistently score the MELA teaching team well above the national average. Additionally, MELA was one of only four out of 28 American Indian/Alaska Native grantees in the state to receive a five-year early learning grant. Moved by the program’s success, federal reviewers have asked MELA to mentor other American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start programs to help them improve their scores.

“It means a lot. I remember when it first came out,” said Auburn City Councilmember Yolanda Trout, who was on hand for the ceremony. “I think it’s very important for children to start at the foundation of their learning … for this to be introduced at this level. Head Start did a very good job and continues to do a good job. I’m excited to see it here.”

– The Muckleshoot Tribe contributed to this report.

MARYSVILLE: NW Washington Delegation Applauds Announcement That Marysville School District Will Receive SERV Grant

Grant allows Marysville School District to reimburse school officials for overtime in wake of school shooting last October

Source: Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) applauded the announcement that their request for federal support for Marysville School District has been approved. The grant of $50,000 will go to the school district in the next several days. After the devastating shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in October 2014, Senators Murray and Cantwell and Reps. Larsen and DelBene wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on January 12th, 2015 for a grant to help offset the costs the district incurred in the aftermath of the shooting.

“I am so glad to see the Marysville community receive support to help compensate staff and personnel who acted as heroes after such a tragic event, sacrificing their time, energy, and resources to the school,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This is just a small step in helping them down the long road of recovery, and I know that Marysville is strong enough to keep moving forward while remembering the loved ones lost that day last October.”

“My focus remains on helping the Marysville community heal from this terrible tragedy, and I welcome today’s announcement that vital support is coming for the Marysville-Pilchuck School District,”said Senator Maria Cantwell. “We stand with students, school employees and area residents who were affected, and are inspired by the resilience and unity this community has shown.”

“The Marysville and Tulalip communities remain resilient and strong after last year’s tragedy, and I hope this grant will offer additional support as students, teachers, families and the communities continue to recover,” said Congressman Larsen.
“After a tragedy like this, lives are changed forever and we will always remember the young lives lost,” said Congresswoman DelBene. “I hope these funds help those who gave their time and expertise to support their community in the aftermath of this heartbreaking event.”

Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence) grants, issued through the Department of Education, provide funding for short- and long-term education- related services for school districts and institutions of higher education to help these educational institutions recover from violent or traumatic events. The Project SERV grant going to the Marysville School District will help reimburse the school district for transportation expenditures, as extra funds were needed to ensure students were able to get to school, as well as costs for substitute teachers, who stood in for classroom staff who were unable to immediately return to work following the tragedy.

Click here to see the letter the members wrote requesting the grant in January.