LACEY'S SCHOOLS

North Thurston schools are safe, majority of students agree

School board hears from new Director of Equity and Languages

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In a district-wide survey conducted by North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) in 2020-21, results showed that the majority of students felt safe in their schools.

During the regular NTPS board meeting on Tue., Sept. 7, the district’s new Director of Equity and Languages Dr. Antonio Sandifer shared the results of the survey. “Overall, majority of our students felt safe and comfortable in their learning environment,” Sandifer explained. Sandifer was hired in July 2021.

Based on the data from the Educational Effectiveness Survey, which was developed and analyzed by an independent third-party consultant, 80 percent of students shared that they feel safe at school.  Moreover, 81 percent agree that rules against bullying are being enforced by an adult. 84 percent of students also believe that rules on behavior are being applied equally to everyone in school, and 84 percent knew at least one adult within the school system who cares about them.

In addition, 72 percent of students agree that their teachers assist them whenever they encounter difficult subjects. This was especially crucial since the survey was conducted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the results showed that 70 percent of students believe that their schools are doing a good job to prepare them to succeed in life.

Increasing acceptance of cultural diversity

During the discussion, Sandifer also reviewed the district’s Strategic Plan which states the goal of developing responsible, resilient, and empowered learners. The equity director stated that district leaders wants to increase the percentage of students who are open and accepting of cultural diversity.

To achieve that goal, Sandifer plans to introduce students to a variety of cultural experiences through classroom- and school-based activities. This includes introducing social justice standards, a teaching framework for anti-bias education which focuses on key areas such as identity, diversity, justice, and action. In addition, the director also announced that they would implement a pilot roll-out for Ethnic Studies in selected classrooms.

NTPS also identified areas for improvement. Sandifer shared that they would like to foster better collaboration with families, as well as shifting teaching strategies from a teacher-centered learning environment to a more student-centered one.

As reported previously in The JOLT, Lacey’s schools make use of a framework called, “Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards.” The program, established in 1991 offers grade-level adjusted discussion topics intended to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences, according to its materials.

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