News

BSD recognized for diversity emphasis

By CHARLES MELTON

Editor

Another feather has been placed in the Bremerton School District’s proverbial cap as the Washington State School Directors’ Association honored the district for its efforts to promote and value diversity/multicultural education in its schools and community.

The award was announced on Nov. 26, and the BSD joined the Bethel School District as the only two districts in the state to receive the recognition.

“We are honored to have received WSSDA’s diversity award,” BSD Supt. Bette Hyde said. “Together, our board and our staff work very hard to give students options, aimed at increasing student achievement. We want every child in Bremerton to be successful and reach their potential. We are proud of this accomplishment, and we thank the community for its continued support.”

Districts that apply for the awards submit an essay describing the steps they have taken to implement the state of Washington’s Joint Policy on Equity in Education. The policy emphasizes fairness, openness and equitable access for all students in public schools by eliminating prejudice, bigotry and discrimination, addressing racial integration and language needs, hiring a diverse staff, and involving the community.

Award-winning essays are made available to all school boards and districts in the state as an example of successful strategies and best practices.

The WSSDA Diversity Awards program is now in its 14th year. The awards, which include a gift of $500 from the Washington School Boards’ Educational Foundation, are presented to one each from a small, medium and large school district.

The Bremerton School District was selected to receive a WSSDA Diversity Award in the category of districts with 2,001 to 10,000 students.

In its award application, the district emphasized its “relentless commitment” to eliminate prejudice, bigotry and discrimination, and its use of a variety of strategies to address the achievement gap. “Appreciating diversity is important,” the district said, “but guaranteeing our children have a future beyond high school is critical.”

Actions and accomplishments cited by the district include:

• Forming a coalition of area preschools, daycares and Head Starts focused on increasing reading readiness skills for incoming kindergarten students, and offering free all-day kindergarten.

• Offering tutorials and interventions at all grades for students who need extra help, classes for eighth-grade students on getting ready for college, and a free SAT Prep class for high school juniors.

• Partnering with area churches and organizations like the NAACP to communicate with parents about supporting their children’s learning and understanding high school graduation requirements.

• Establishing a liaison to work with Native American students and families and a coordinator who helps find mentors from the African-American community to assist students at risk.

• Supporting high school student clubs related to diversity, training staff and students on diversity issues, and using diverse cultural materials in school lessons, including ethnic history presentations, career awareness days and civil rights units which are aimed at developing an understanding of race-related issues.

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