Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education has received two grants totaling $600,000 to assist with adoption of a state law that requires schools to incorporate a state-created curriculum known as Since Time Immemorial to enhance what students learn about the state’s 29 federally recognized tribes.
The two grants for two separate projects assist nine school districts and multiple Native communities. The Washington Student Achievement Council approved funding for both of the projects.
“These two grants not only advance our professional development work in schools but, most significantly, forge important new efforts with Native American communities in our region. It capitalizes on the strengths of our faculty while also honoring the important cultural knowledge of local indigenous communities,” said Francisco Rios, dean of Woodring College of Education.
In 2005, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1495, which officially recommended inclusion of tribal history in all common schools. A state law passed during the 2015 session of the state legislature now requires schools to incorporate the state-created Since Time Immemorial (STI) curriculum.
In the project titled “Implementation of Since Time Immemorial: Higher Education and K-12 School Partnership Pilot project,” Woodring College received $400,000 in funding. The collaborative project is led by Woodring College in conjunction with partnering faculty members and staff in the College of Education at the University of Washington and the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Western along with contributions from the Office of Native Education within the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
The project will focus on schools, districts and Tribal Compact Schools that have a high number of Native American students, including the Lummi Nation School, Muckleshoot Tribal School, Spokane School District, Shelton School District, Marysville School District, Wellpinit School District, Chief Kitsap Academy and Tahola School District.
The project will provide training workshops and follow-up site visits for individualized professional development and coaching to partner teachers, principals, assistant principals and paraprofessionals focused on the culturally appropriate implementation of STI.
“It is significant that six out of seven team members are Native women trained in education! Our entire team of diverse partners is dedicated to providing professional development that teaches regional tribal government, culture and history through the STI curriculum. We are thrilled to have this grant because we can contribute and build on the good work that ONE (the state Office of Native Education) and state Sen. John McCoy have done to improve Indian Education,” said Kristen French, Western Elementary Education associate professor.
The Since Time Immemorial grant coordinator at Woodring College is Michelle Vendiola. “With an emphasis on culture and identity, we expect this work to have long-term impact on the academic achievement of Native students as well as all Washington state students. Ultimately, we are honored to participate in the improvement of future relationships between tribal communities and mainstream Washington state citizens,” Vendiola said.
The project co-directors: are French, Anna Lees, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Western and WWU History Professor Chris Friday along with Megan Bang, associate professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Washington, Dawn Hardison-Stevens, program manager of the UW’s Native Education Certification Program and Elizabeth West, UW associate professor, Special Education.
A project titled “Science and the Swinomish,” received $200,000 in funding. In that project, Western’s Woodring College of Education and Huxley College of the Environment, working in collaboration with the Swinomish Tribe, will partner with the La Conner and Concrete school districts to immerse K-12 teachers and principals in both the STI curriculum and database resources.
"We applaud the unique partnership with Western Washington University and the La Conner and Concrete School Districts to explore the opportunity to expand educational growth for our tribal members,” said Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe.
Project co-directors are Don Larsen, director of Administrative Leadership at Woodring College, and Tim Bruce, with the Administrative Leadership faculty at Woodring College. Ruth Sofield, associate professor at Western’s Huxley College, also will be very involved with the project.
"We are thankful for the Tribe's willingness to share its culture and expertise as we work to personalize the STI Curriculum and develop hands-on science lessons focused on the restoration and care of the environment essential to maintaining the traditional Swinomish way of living,” Bruce said.
Teachers and principals will receive training in the basics of the STI curriculum, and then will dig deeper into the aspects of the curriculum that relate to science, focusing on topics such as salmon recovery, tideland impacts and water use. Utilizing scientists from Huxley and Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC), and tribal experts from the Swinomish Tribe, participants will gain first-hand knowledge of locally relevant, culturally important issues in science. By spring of 2017, teachers and principals will have a strong working knowledge of STI, including multiple lesson plans ready for submission to the Digital Library to share with a wider audience. WWU faculty will have gained valuable field experience and feedback to share with their current students and interns.
About the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC): Established as a cabinet-level state agency in 2012, WSAC provides strategic planning, administrative oversight and advocacy to support increased student success and higher levels of educational attainment in Washington.
The nine-member Council includes five citizen members, one of whom is a current student, and one representative from each of Washington’s four major educational sectors. The Council proposes improvements and innovations to meet the evolving needs of students, employers and the educational community. In recognition of the economic, social and civic benefits of public education, the council advocates for increased financial support and civic commitment to ensure a thriving Washington.