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    Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness
    Posted on 01/14/2018
    Two students work together at a computer

    Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness

    Every student in Seattle deserves to know they have a safe learning environment where they are known, valued and belong. January and February provide many opportunities to reinforce and create welcoming learning environments that support identity safety of every student.

    Our students come to us with many gifts, and ensuring opportunities for them to grow and demonstrate their potential for greatness is one of our top priorities as a district. You have heard me share that the district is focused on reducing barriers to academic success or “Eliminating Opportunity Gaps.” We have recently reframed our commitment as Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness (EOG).

    During the past year, I worked to better communicate the urgency of EOG while affirming my personal belief in every student’s potential.

    My personal mantra has evolved into:

    • I believe in every student; no matter what; no exceptions
    • Relationships matter; and they must be meaningful and sustainable relationships with at least one caring adult in the school
    • Knowing each student’s story, strength and need is foundational to success; and we need to provide strength-based interventions and supports

    Students need to know they will receive unconditional care and support in our schools. From the bus stop to the board room, we will be relentless in our pursuit of ensuring racial equity.

    January and February offer several opportunities to affirm these commitments:

    • Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 15
    • Black History Month – February
    • Black Lives Matter at Schools engagement week – Feb. 5-9
    • African American Parent Involvement Day – Feb. 12

    There are also opportunities to learn more about promising practices, including at the upcoming Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators Annual Summit on Jan. 20 and during the Seattle educator-organized Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools and nationwide week of events Feb. 5-9.

    I want to acknowledge the efforts of school leaders and educators, the Seattle Education Association (SEA), the Ethnic Studies Work Group, the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) Department, and Partnership Team for creating resources to support classroom learning in the coming weeks. Additional information from SEA and the CAI Department will be shared soon.

    In closing, I very much appreciate the focus Seattle has on EOG. Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness for every student is the issue of our time. It requires working together to build a system that meets the needs of every child. It requires that we work differently, across silos and with partners, families, students and each other. It requires reflection on our own practice and the courage to change. It requires we are unyielding in our pursuit of social justice and equity and that we keep the focus on students against all odds.

    I hope that you take the time on Monday to celebrate the life of the great Martin Luther King Jr. On Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King challenged us all to make good on our nation’s promise, a promise of unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a promise to everyone. Together, we are working to realize his dream for each of our 54,000 students.

    It is an honor to serve as your superintendent.


    Dr. Larry Nyland