Seattle Elementary Network

 

Update from the 2020 CCE Annual Report

Adaptation in the Time of COVID

CREATING A LEARNING NETWORK DURING A PANDEMIC

In summer 2019, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Community Engagement and the Seattle U College of Education began the development of a network of elementary schools to address educational equity in central Seattle. Building upon the Center’s strong track record at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Michelle Cruver, the new director of this effort began outreach to five additional local elementary school communities, including Leschi, Lowell, Madrona, Marshall and Muir.

Drawing on Professor john a. powell’s concept of othering and belonging, Cruver notes that the process of developing the network is “not an invitation to a house, it’s a house we build together for educational equity. In our effort, the builders are families, community partners and those working in schools.”

As the new network was about to launch, the COVID-19 health crisis led to school closures and major challenges for central Seattle families. Responding to the crisis, Center staff pursued new strategies to meet families’ emerging needs. Each school received $17,500 for COVID response summer learning activities. Principals of the six schools also engaged in interviews with an external evaluator, which highlighted the important role that families play in help-
ing students progress, particularly during the pandemic. One principal noted, “The ultimate goal here is to increase student achievement, increase support for parents and increase support for teachers. To narrow the gap between the big three: home, school and community. How can we better move in unison as a team, as one?”

The COVID crisis along with the movement for Black lives highlights the already critical importance that community partners have in pursuing educational equity. With this recognition, the Center focused the investment in the amplification of local community-based projects that provide culturally sustaining programming to youth and families. An external community review panel selected 12 local organizations to provide a web of support to families during remote instruction and as an ongoing strategy to strengthen the home-to-school connection.

The organizations leading these efforts include:

  • Africatown Center for Education & Innovation
  • The Austin Foundation
  • Black Star Line: African Centered Family Educational Collective
  • Brainy Babe Tutoring
  • Cultivating the Genius of Black Children
  • Engageable Designs
  • Gatzert Family Partners
  • Look Listen and Learn
  • Reclaiming our Greatness
  • Seattle Music Partners
  • SouthEndStories and the American History Traveling Museum
  • South King County Discipline Coalition

The Center for Community Engagement understands that amplifying the work of local community organizations and investing in local schools are only a small contribution to the larger effort of fostering vibrant educational experiences for Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, Asian Pacific Islander, immigrant and refugee families in central Seattle. The emerging network is part of what we hope will be a sustained anti-racist commitment toward educational justice. We look forward to sharing more of the network’s stories as we listen, plan and act together for more equitable learning.

 

 

Continuous Learning Grants 

The Seattle University Center for Community Engagement (CCE) is seeking community-based organizations to partner with central Seattle elementary students and their families to provide math and socio-emotional support in the COVID era. Eligible applicants can request awards from $40,000-$75,000 to deepen programs throughout summer and during fall re-entry into schools.  

 

Purpose and Activities  

The COVID crisis has affected how students and families can connect with community-based organizations in culturally responsive ways.  We recognize that our central area community partners are critical in reshaping education and learning in summer and out-of-school programming.  Learning in the COVID crisis and beyond requires investing in community and home-based learning, as well as supporting our school’s connection to community.  We seek to amplify and increase the capacity of community leaders and parents as educators to our youth.  Example activities include:  

  • Providing social-emotional programs for students and families through regular check-ins, virtual or in-person   
  • Engagement that focuses on supporting at-home learning   
  • Creating culturally responsive educational content  
  • Delivering culturally responsive trainings and professional development for adults  
  • Engaging in distribution and use of academic materials  

  

All ideas informed by your experience are eagerly anticipated!  

 

View the full funding announcement to apply and for more information. 

 

Collective Effort for Student Success 

Seattle University is in the planning phase to launch Seattle’s first Local Improvement Network for elementary school communities and their neighborhood partners. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle University’s Center for Community Engagement and College of Education will serve as lead partner the new Network which will utilize improvement science to close elementary math gaps by focusing on social-emotional academic development among local pre-school and elementary school students. Guided by a commitment to racial equity, Seattle University will convene institutional partners including Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Housing Authority, youth and family community-based organizations, the Community Center for Educational Results and the City of Seattle to co-create the Network’s strategies, goals and assessment measures. The Network will particularly emphasize intersecting influences on student learning including:

  • Early Learning
  • Extended Learning
  • Family Engagement
  • Housing
  • Instructional Practices

A Local Improvement Network Director, employed by Seattle University, will lead efforts to effectively plan the Network and further enhance the individual and collective capacities of Network partners including Seattle public elementary school teachers and administrators, community-based organizations, housers, early learning educators and family leaders. The Seattle Local Improvement Network will contribute to the goals and success of the Road Map Project (a region-wide effort to improve education and address educational inequity).

The Seattle Local Improvement Network’s first year will focus primarily on building Seattle University’s capacity to serve as an intermediary and identifying elementary school communities and their neighborhood partners that will comprise the Network. Emphasizing its distinct place-based approach to community engagement, Seattle University will conduct extensive outreach to central Seattle elementary schools and their communities to assess interest and readiness to participate in the Local Improvement Network. By spring 2020, up to three additional elementary schools will join the Bailey Gatzert Elementary School community, a long-time partner of Seattle University, in the new Network.  The Network will officially launch in summer 2020.

To test ideas that might be brought to scale through the Network, during 2019-2020, Seattle University will partner with Gatzert Elementary teachers, administrators, parents, community-based organizations, housers and early learning educators to pilot several continuous improvement efforts focused on closing math gaps through instructional practices, extended learning (afterschool) opportunities, social emotional academic development (SEAD) and early learning partnerships.

For more information please contact:  Kent Koth (kothk@seattleue.edu) or Deanna Sands (sands@seattleu.edu). 

 

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