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Ethnic Studies Fellows Program Launched

In the summer of 2020, the Shoreline School Board passed the Ethnic Studies Resolution. The resolution states, "We affirm our belief that the integration and addition of ethnic studies into the education of Shoreline School District’s students can have a positive impact on eliminating opportunity gaps."

To support the implementation of the resolution, the Ethnic Studies Fellows Program launched that same year, energized by educators excited to grow their knowledge and practice and to support the student voice advocating for Ethnic Studies in Shoreline Schools. To date, 68 teachers and staff members have participated in the program.

The Ethnic Studies Fellows Program helps educators to understand the pedagogy of Ethnic Studies and to examine the materials they already have in their classrooms and how they reflect the histories and stories of their students. The cohort model allows for creation of informal teams to embed the work into schools, with a few Fellows from a building collaborating to plan lessons and work in the learning at all grade levels.

Teaching Ethnic Studies in a meaningful way goes beyond curriculum and lesson plans, to a fundamental internalizing of culturally responsive teaching. Teachers and staff from a variety of backgrounds are developing their capacity to make space for their students to show up in their own, authentic ways, knowing their stories are valued.

“It means a lot when people recognize that all of our stories have a place,” says Dr. Tanisha Brandon-Felder, Director of Equity and Family Engagement. “The other side of that is that if you never see yourself, that can be really damaging. It’s exciting to see our students’ stories be normalized, not viewed as exceptional.”

Both Shorecrest and Shorewood high schools now offer an Ethnic Studies elective, allowing students to explore their own and other cultures, discuss issues that are important to them, and learn about communities whose histories are not always accurately reflected in curriculum.

Shorecrest High School Senior Xavier Reyes-Jech notes, “We don’t just learn about different cultures in Ethnic Studies. This is a class that’s based around human connection and helping people understand and grow compassion for each other.”

Looking to next year, the Ethnic Studies Fellows Program will continue with its third cohort of participants and previous cohorts will continue their collaboration and professional learning. And more students will come to school knowing that their own stories are recognized, appreciated, and valued.