North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Diversity is an important asset in our community

 


As the Marysville School District begins the 2015-16 school year, we are at the same time beginning an important conversation about race, equity and access for all students.

Diversity is an asset in our community. Our Board-approved Strategic Directions include embracing students' culture, language and uniqueness.

The recent vandalism at Totem Middle School, which included racial slurs being scrawled on the floor and whiteboard in one classroom, has caused us to take a step back and ask ourselves if we can do more to address race relations in our district.

At our administrative team retreat last month, we spent an afternoon sharing, often candidly, our experiences, thoughts and feelings about race, led by Dr. Anthony Craig, our new director of cultural competency and school support, and Dr. Kyle Kinoshita, executive director of elementary schools. A number of people in the room have had direct experiences dealing with racism in their own lives and spoke eloquently about how that had affected them.

Everyone left the meeting feeling that it was a watershed moment for us as educators. We are firmly committed to continue this conversation about race and schools, and how we can deepen understanding and build bridges between our diverse cultures in Marysville.

We are equally committed to every student's academic success and bridging the achievement and opportunity gaps that exist in Marysville.

One of the ways we are leveling the playing field and creating access for all this year is through our technology initiatives. Technology helps students learn in new ways, at higher levels of thinking, and helps them create as well as consume knowledge.

We are enthusiastic about our new 1-to-1 program that will provide new Chromebook computers to all students in grades 6 through 12, thanks to your support of the technology levy in 2014. Our teachers are beginning an intensive professional development program to help them with integration of the new devices into classroom instruction.

This follows on the heels of our first major initiative last year - building a robust wireless network across all district facilities. Now all district facilities have Wi-Fi available to the community in parking lots after 5 p.m.

The integration of technology is reflected in all aspects of teaching and learning in Marysville schools. This fall we are beginning code.org instruction for students in computer science at each elementary school. Launched in 2013, Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Millions across the U.S. did an "Hour of Code" last year, and we are excited for many of our students to have that opportunity regularly.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools as we work together alongside the City of Marysville and the Tulalip Tribes to move forward and help our community heal, unite and grow stronger.

Dr. Becky Berg is superintendent of the Marysville School District.

 

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