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

MSD's Remle earns national award


August 2, 2017 | View PDF

Photo courtesy of Matt Remle

Marysville School District Native Liaison Matt Remle demonstrates Native American drumming at Tacoma's Pacific Lutheran University last winter.. Remle was recently named National Indian Education Association's Educator of the Year.

Matt Remle, a Native American liaison for the Marysville School District, was recently recognized as the National Indian Education Association's Educator of the Year.

Remle said the news definitely surprised him.

"Honestly, I'm still in a little bit of shock at having been given this award," he said.

"Anytime you are recognized it takes a little while to sink in, but especially for something like this that is a national award," he said.

Since 2004 he has been a part of the Marysville School District and Remle said he's mostly focused on his work, so the award comes as a shock.

"You're just plugging away doing your work in your district," he said. "It's a thankless job sometimes."

"When I heard about it I was thrilled, but not surprised that Matt was given this award," said Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg. "For us, he has always been an outstanding native educator."

As a liaison at the district Remle works at multiple schools. 

The goal of a liaison is "to really help students and families navigate the system and to advocate for changes in that system when it is not working for the students," said Berg.

At Marysville-Pilchuck High School and Marysville Getchell High School he helps native students with counseling, credit retrieval and other services.

"If students fall behind, how do they catch back up, and that's the big bulk of my work at the high school," he said.

Remle is involved in helping both students and their families navigate the school system.

"He advocates for both the families and their kids, and that's not always easy to do," said Berg.

"I have heard from many families, especially native families, that Matt is the reason that their child was able to graduate from our schools," she said.

There are a number of unique obstacles Remle helps with.

"I like working with our youth and being able to help assist them with whatever they walk through my door for," said Remle, adding that "the hats I wear vary wildly."

At Shoultes Elementary Remle also does education "working around [native] culture and identity."

He has helped to bring in native crafts activities and local speakers.

"I love our various tribal cultures," he said, "and bringing that to students, not just tribal students, all students in the district."

"He is a humble guy, with a passion for social justice deep in his heart," said Berg.

Remle is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, although he grew up in the Marysville and Arlington area, graduating from Arlington High School.

When he was in high school Remle said he wanted to get into education, but ended up studying political science at Western Washington University.

After graduating and working in other fields he returned to the college for a presentation and a couple of Tulalip Tribal members said he should apply for a position with the Marysville School District that was open.

More than a decade later and Remle is still with the district.

He said he enjoys being able to return to one of the places he was raised in. "That's my way of giving back to the community I grew up with," he said.

Remle said he likes the Marysville School District for its partnerships with the Tulalip Tribes.

"You don't see those kind of partnerships and collaborations in all school districts," he said. "The way they work together should be a model for all districts in the area, in the nation really."

He pointed to the Since Time Immemorial curriculum that the district adopted as one example. The curriculum integrates more Native American perspectives into history and social sciences classes, and Remle is currently authorized to train other teachers in the curriculum.

"That's one of the things that this district is doing because of that partnership with Tulalip," he said.

Remle wanted to add that there are many educators in the district who also deserve recognition.

"I've been in the Marysville School District since 2004 and I've seen a lot of dedicated, committed individuals here, so that's another reason this recognition took me by surprise," he said.

Remle will be honored at the National Indian Education Association's conference scheduled to be held in October.


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