Have You Heard of Our Native Education Program?
November is Native American Heritage Month, but our Native American and Alaska Native Education Program ensures Native students and their families in Kent School District are supported throughout the year.
“I’m here to help students succeed,” said Richard Summers, our Native American Academic and Cultural Liaison and a member of the HAIDA Nation. “I’ve gone through being a young native person and trying to figure out how to go to college. I’m someone they can identify with. Meaningful relationships with adult mentors help students feel understood.”
We receive funding for the program through Title VI grants monies based on the number of Native students enrolled in our schools. More than 86 federally recognized tribes are represented by our students and their families.
The funds are used for initiatives and programs that directly support our students, like having books that represent our diverse community available in our school libraries.
Earlier this year, a Native author, Sondra Simone Segundo, was a guest speaker at a Native family culture night and shared stories with the group.
Our program is also unique in that students are eligible based on Native rule. The student doesn't need to be enrolled in a Federally recognized tribe if their parent or grandparent is, and no blood quantum is required to enroll and participate in the program. This helps more students and families feel welcomed and included in the community.
"Don’t be afraid to come out to a culture night and enjoy the programming and potluck monthly, it’s a great chance to get to know other Native families in the district,” Summers said. He encourages interested families to contact him to find out about upcoming events, if they have questions, or need help getting services for their student.
Families, staff, and secondary students enrolled in the program are also invited to join the Parent Advisory Committee which helps determine the directions of the program. Committee members assess the needs of Native students in our community, develop program goals, and evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
“This is an opportunity for parents of Native American students in KSD to have a voice and input on the programming we put together for their students,” Summers explained. “Please don’t think of it as extra work, but a chance to have your voice heard. We’d love to have more parents participate.”