66.8 F
Thursday, June 8, 2023

Two Seattle Public School Principals Awarded $25,000 For Advancing Educational Justice

By Rayjaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium

Nathan Hale High School Principal Dr. William Jackson III and West Seattle Elementary School Principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers are the recipients of the 2022-23 Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence, which recognizes outstanding Seattle Public Schools principals who have demonstrated success in advancing educational justice and racial equity in their school community. Each school recently held a surprise assembly where the Alliance for Education presented each principal with a $25,000 check for their respective schools.

The award, which has been given to principals since 2000, is named in honor of Thomas B. Foster, a prominent Seattle attorney who displayed a devoted personal commitment to public education. It provides an unrestricted $25,000 award to the school of the award recipient.

“The Foster Award is an unrestricted grant to the principal’s school for their building-level leadership to determine how to best use the grant for their students and school community,” said Alliance for Education spokesperson Ian Coon. “Principals enjoy the autonomy of being able to use these funds in creative ways to equitably support their students.”

“These two school leaders are the embodiment of academic excellence, creating school climates for belonging, emotional safety, and thriving for students. They lead their staff with compassion, care, empathy, and high expectations. They build in accountability in everything they do, with a focus on student outcomes,” said Dr. Brent Jones, superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. “These are some tremendous leaders, and I couldn’t be prouder of both Principal William Jackson and Principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers. They have been advocates of excellence, and this is what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

Jackson and McCowan-Conyers were selected for the Foster Award based on colleague and community nominations in addition to school-building-level data that displays steps towards advancing racial equity and educational justice for their students. Principals must have served at least three years at their current school to be eligible for the award.

Lisa Chick, president of the Alliance for Education, expressed her appreciation for the work that Jackson and McCowan have done in promoting racial equity.

“We could not be prouder of this year’s Foster Award for Excellence winners, two remarkable community leaders who represent the best of Seattle Public Schools,” said Chick. “Our public school principals are community heroes, and we are delighted to recognize the outstanding efforts of both Dr. Jackson and Principal McCowan-Conyers for their achievements in advancing racial equity and educational justice.”

“We believe that education can be a powerful tool for building a more equitable society, and we are thrilled to support the district’s ongoing efforts to create more inclusive learning environments for all students to thrive,” she added.

McCowan-Conyers has been with Seattle Public Schools since 2009 and, now as the principal of West Seattle Elementary, plans to use the grant to help keep things moving forward as both students and staff are moving back to their newly expanded building in High Point despite two years at Schmitz Park Elementary campus.

“This award means everything. Because, to me, this award was won for West Seattle Elementary, and I think it is the greatest place in the world to be. I’m so proud of our students, families, and community. We do a lot of work around equity and inclusion, and when we talk about equity and inclusion, people oftentimes think we are only talking about race,” said McCowan-Conyers. “Yes, we get to encompass people of color and put our arms around them and tell them that we love them, but we also get to include different cultures, colors, abilities, ages, and religions.”

“So, when we talk about inclusion, we talk about it from all vantage points. I truly love our beautiful mosaic of diversity at West Seattle Elementary,” she continued.

Jackson began his administrative career as an assistant principal for Nathan Hale in 2016 before becoming principal three years ago. During that time, he has managed to advance student leadership and family engagement to lead racial equity and justice in Seattle Public Schools.

“I feel extremely grateful and blessed to be surrounded by amazing leaders, great staff, and students that push me. This award is really significant because we do focus on this; we focus on African American male achievement and on access to advanced coursework. Every student takes advanced courses here at Nathan Hale through College in the High School,” said Jackson.

“I’m grateful to the Alliance of Education; my students are really proud and excited about this award,” Jackson continued. “It represents their work; they see the results of the work based on the financial contribution. The goal is to provide resources for students and have a 100% graduation rate.”

Must Read

‘The Little Mermaid’ Faces Racist Backlash From Some Viewers In China...

“The Little Mermaid” has bombed with moviegoers in China and South Korea amid racist critiques in some quarters over the casting of Black actress Halle Bailey as main character Ariel.