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Kent School District Congratulates Gavin Downing as the recipient of this year’s WEA Student Involvement Award

The Washington Education Association's Human and Civil Rights Committee has selected Gavin Downing, Kentridge High School's Teacher-Librarian, as this year's recipient of the Student Involvement Award. On Monday, September 18, they honored Gavin with a presentation of the award at the Kentridge Library. "It is a tremendous honor," Gavin said after the award presentation. "I was dumbstruck even to realize I was in the running, much less to be told that I had won."

Gavin has demonstrated excellence in the Kent School District since 2006. When asked what he thought contributed to his selection as the recipient of this award, he replied, "I commit to always working hard to make whatever space I'm in a welcoming and usable place by the students. That's always been my center, and I think that's a key piece." He attributes his passion for education to his family. "My grandparents were both educators for many years. They really were an inspiration for me."

The annual NEA and WEA Human and Civil Rights Awards are connected to the 1966 merger of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Teachers Association (ATA). The ATA, representing Black teachers in segregated schools in the South, traditionally honored leaders in the justice and civil rights movement at an annual awards dinner. This inspirational program was necessary to acknowledge progress towards justice nationwide and uplift positive impacts on the education of students of color. As a newly merged Association, the NEA has held to this tradition each year since 1967, celebrating leaders in racial justice, social justice, and human and civil rights.

As conceived by ATA, the awards program honors individuals and organizations, including from within the Association, who have expanded educational opportunities for students who have been traditionally marginalized and those who have advanced and expanded human and civil rights in their communities.

Winners receive a monetary award, a plaque award, recognition of their achievements through a video at the annual WEA Representative Assembly, and they have the opportunity to share their story at the annual WEA Teaching Equity Conference in the hopes of replicating their level of advocacy for marginalized student populations. Human and Civil Rights Award nominations are completed by WEA members who want to recognize their colleague's contributions to racial and social justice.

Please visit the WEA’s website for more information about this award and organization.


Gavin Downing Award PresentationNote for Gavin from StudentsGroup photo of award presentationGavin Downing Speaking at award presentation