słukʷalb ʔə ti ʔacaciłtalbixʷ - Native American Heritage Month
In past years, we have honored słukʷalb ʔə ti ʔacaciłtalbixʷ - Native American Heritage Month as a time to celebrate our tribe and our ancestors that have had an impact on our world today. This year, we wanted to honor our Native staff. At Chief Leschi Schools, we have 51 staff members that are affiliated with a tribe. From Puyallup to Tlingt to Navajo, we celebrate all of our Native staff. Every year, month, and day is a Native American Heritage celebration.
We asked our Native educators to tell us why they went into education. Kathryn Yates, elementary co-principal and a member of the California Central Valley Miwok Band of Indians, shares that she was the first person in her family to be enrolled in preschool in a public school. "My grandparents felt my education was important to help support their understanding of the non-Native world," Kathryn explains. "I was blessed with many special educators in my life that inspired me to work in the education field."
Belinda Frederick, one of our high school special education teachers and a member of the North Dakota Turtle Mountain, Chippewa Tribe, grew up on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon. She is the granddaughter of Donald Orville Frederick Sr., Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Metis and the granddaughter of Emily Faye Johnson (white), Yakama, Aleut, and Modoc. Belinda shares, "I teach to give back to the kids, allow them to feel at home, feel safe, cared for, and learn how to be successful along any path their journey takes them."
Jennifer Vasilez, one of our secondary co-principals and Puyallup Tribal member, discovered her passion for education when she volunteered in her cousin’s kindergarten classroom. She is passionate about decolonizing education and Indigenous history. Her commitment to Indigenous youth is deeply rooted, believing in the quote from Willard Bill Sr., Muckleshoot, "There are no throw away Warriors." "I believe that every student matters, and they matter every day," Jennifer says. Jennifer returns to us after being a teacher, Dean of Students, and principal at Chief Leschi Schools.
Demmarie McKay, our elementary office manager, shares that she is pursing higher education because of her Indigenous background. She explains, "I am currently in the process of a dual Masters, currently enrolled in two programs to be a Substance Abuse Counselor and Mental Health Counselor; my end goal is to work with Indian Health Services and provide services to Native American Communities." Demmarie is affiliated with Spirit Lake Sioux (formally, Devils Lake Sioux) and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa's.
ʔəsbutbutlačibitubułəd čəł - We raise our hands to you folks.
** We worked with our Native staff to collect photos to post on our website and social media to honor them. Some staff members opted out and we respect their decision. **