Black Lives Matter at School Follow-up

A message from Principal Debbie Nelsen:

“Dear Hazel Wolf K-8 Families, 

Last week Hazel Wolf K-8 made Black Lives Matter Week a priority. We took time away from some of our typical daily learning to embrace this important work and to teach our students about the importance of the history leading to this week, as well as steps moving forward.  

Across the grade levels and content areas, the staff provided students with rich opportunities to dig deep inside themselves to understand and reflect.

On Monday, the MS (as a whole) attended an assembly on the history of and necessity for Black Lives Matter Week lead by Erin Jones. To help with the continuation of this work, Ms. Jones shared with us not only the power point presentation with accompanying notes, but also included additional slides about the N-word and suggestions about learning teachers could do moving forward.

On Tuesday, each MS grade level attended a presentation with Erin Jones in which they participated in a variety of interactive activities. She shared her story, including personal experiences with racism and the reasons she has devoted her life to this work. She also spoke about the importance of words and how they are used. She led the kids in an activity where they used post-its to write down negative words/phrases they have been called and have called others and then collected them. This was followed by an activity where the students then wrote down all of the positive words/phrases they have been called, have called others, or would like to hear used. Those were collected at the end of each session.

Throughout the remainder of the week and continuing into an additional week, students participated in specific Black Lives Matter lessons in their classes as well as in long-term units incorporating Black Lives Matter themes. 

As part of our conclusion to Black Lives Matter Week, MS students gathered in the courtyard for a symbolic ending to the use of those negative words where the post-its are burned in front of them. In the MS, their positive words were turned into a “positivity garland” hanging throughout the hallways as a visual reminder of what they want to hear and say.

We thank you for the conversations you have had, and hopefully continue to have, with your child.  If you have feedback about any of the activities during Black Lives Matter week that you would like to share please let me know.

For additional information, including resources from Erin Jones’ talk “Black Lives Matter at School: The Power and History of Words” at the PTSA General Session Jan. 22, 2020, visit the Racial Equity Committee webpage.

Reminder! PTSA General Session Meeting – Wednesday Jan. 22

Hazel Wolf K-8 parents, staff and students are invited to the Cafetorium for the second General Session meeting of the year this Wednesday, Jan. 22. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. and dinner will be available at that time. Childcare also will be provided.

The meeting will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and will include important Hazel Wolf K-8 Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) updates and a guest speaker, Erin Jones: “Black Lives Matter at School: The Power of History and Words” (updated title).

Erin Jones will also be presenting to our student community during Black Lives Matter at School Week. She will lead all students in grade-level appropriate assemblies. Also she will be collaborating with Middle School teachers and holding a “Creating Community” day for Middle School students. We hope parents will take this opportunity to learn from Erin and make connections with what their children will be learning about during BLM at School Week.

The PTSA has invited Ms. Jones in light of the increased awareness of work and education that is needed following the recent student-led protest about harmful racial slurs being used in our community. Ms. Jones will be discussing why it is important to address these issues, defining diversity vs. racial justice (equity), race, ethnicity, culture, and the history of the n-word and other similar words and why they’re so dangerous. Also, there will be interactive activities to get our community talking. Lastly, she will provide a helpful list of videos, podcasts and tools for parents to use and continue their own learning and their children’s learning.

More about our speaker: Erin Jones has been involved in and around schools for the past 26 years. She has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly Black to predominantly White to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, while working at in Tacoma and was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008, while teaching in Spokane. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a “Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Erin worked as an executive for two State Superintendents. Erin left the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012 to work in college-access at the school district level. She left her job to run as a candidate for State Superintendent and was the first Black woman to run for any state office in Washington state, a race she lost by a mere 1%.

We hope to see you there!

PTSA General Session Meeting With Guest Speaker Erin Jones "Black Lives Matter at School: The Power and History of Words" – Jan. 22

Hazel Wolf parents, staff and students are invited to the Cafetorium for the second General Session meeting of the year from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, to hear important Hazel Wolf K-8 Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) updates and to stay for the guest speaker, Erin Jones: “Black Lives Matter at School: The Power of History and Words” (updated title).

The PTSA has invited Ms. Jones in light of the increased awareness of work and education that is needed following the recent student-led protest about harmful racial slurs being used in our community. Ms. Jones will be discussing why it is important to address these issues, defining diversity vs. racial justice (equity), race, ethnicity, culture, and the history of the n-word and other similar words and why they’re so dangerous. Also, there will be interactive activities to get our community talking. Lastly, she will provide a helpful list of videos, podcasts and tools for parents to use and continue their own learning and their children’s learning.

More about our speaker: Erin Jones has been involved in and around schools for the past 26 years. She has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly Black to predominantly White to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, while working at in Tacoma and was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008, while teaching in Spokane. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a “Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Erin worked as an executive for two State Superintendents. Erin left the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012 to work in college-access at the school district level. She left her job to run as a candidate for State Superintendent and was the first Black woman to run for any state office in Washington state, a race she lost by a mere 1%.

We invite everyone to join us to better building community that allows all students to thrive. You do not have to be a PTSA member to attend. Dinner and childcare will be provided.

We hope to see you there!

Hazel Wolf K-8 PTSA Board Response to the Peaceful Protest

The mission of the Hazel Wolf K-8 PTSA is to facilitate opportunities for family involvement in the school community, and we work to enhance the learning experience for every child – in a way that fosters whole child wellbeing and success. We recognize the importance of a safe and welcoming school environment for all students, where today we have a concern about racist language being used toward children at our school. We encourage the school to address racial bullying and inequities that exist. We also seek to ensure that any actions taken on this matter, and that involve our children, are done in a developmentally appropriate way. As a PTSA, we continue to keep students and their wellbeing at the center of our efforts.

Our understanding of the peaceful protest that took place on Friday, October 25th in front of the school was that it was meant to give a voice to our students’ experiences with racism and how hurtful language should not, and does not, have a place at our school. The PTSA board of directors and members did not have oversight of the way the protest was conducted, though we were informed the day before – as was the school administration. What was at stake here as we understood it – addressing racism at school – was and is a shared priority by all. PTSA President Adrienne Kortas, along with Principal Debbie Nelsen, voiced support to the PTSA Board and school staff for the student-centered demonstration and offered our communication channels to help get the word out to the community as quickly as possible.

We have learned a lot from this experience, including how parents and families need to be informed about and involved in things that concern the safety and wellbeing of our children. We are committed to improving our communication about this work while continuing to move forward within established processes for our Hazel Wolf K-8 PTSA.

We also know our work is just beginning. At the start of this school year, the PTSA Board agreed that increasing racial equity was a key area of focus for us, and we know this to be true for the school as well. We all seek to move in the same direction and effect change. Together, we will lead the way in our school district for implementing key policies that dismantle racism and increase equity. Together, we will do hard, messy, and uncomfortable work. And we will do it all for our kids.

Sincerely,

The Hazel Wolf K-8 PTSA Board

Peaceful Protest – Friday, Oct. 25

Students of Hazel Wolf K-8 E-STEM School, with the support of the PTSA Racial Equity Committee (REC) and school administrators and staff, will hold a Peaceful Protest at the school at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.

The protest will be held because of concerns about several incidents at the school involving the use of the N-word and the word “monkey” against black students, some of whom are
immigrants.

The REC and student-led protest will speak out about the following:

  • the need to educate the school and the larger community about the harmful impact of
    racial slurs on black and immigrant students,
  • the importance of reporting and documenting racist incidents,
  • the value of transparency in communication regarding racist incidents, and
  • the empowerment of and support for black/immigrant students and their families
    after racist incidents have occurred.

We invite community members to join us and bear witness against racism. We will not tolerate racist incidents in our school.

If you are able to attend the Peaceful Protest tomorrow, we ask you to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt or black clothing, if possible. If you can, bring signs that say Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, Racist Bullying Is Not OK, and We Reject Verbal Violence.

For further information, please contact the Hazel Wolf Racial Equity Committee Communications at ptsa_rec@hazelwolfk8.org.

Thank you!