Culturally sustaining practices are key to creating equitable educational environments — but where do we start in a system designed to assimilate Indigenous students?
In 2022, Region 16 Comprehensive Center sponsored 33 students in the University of Washington’s Native Education Certificate Program (NECP). They completed their first year of the program in July 2023.
We sponsored 28 leaders from eight of Washington’s nine educational service districts (ESDs) and five leaders from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Each ESD and OSPI identified leaders to represent their agency or region.
Together, the ESDs collectively support Washington’s 1.1 million K–12 students, including more than 70,000 Native American and Alaska Native students.1
“The more educators who immerse themselves in this program and have an opportunity to rethink what, why, and how our educational systems operate,” said Beth Geiger, Region 16 Washington state director, “the closer we are to an educational environment that not only doesn’t cause harm to students within it, but an environment that enhances the lived experience of children in our state.”
The two-year program helps participants learn to meaningfully collaborate with Native students, families, and communities. Participants cultivate essential skills for culturally appropriate engagement, teaching, and learning.
Participants include teachers, project managers, program specialists, and department directors. Each will bring their learning back to their local context to improve practices and transform systems.
“Not only do I appreciate my growth in understanding Native learners and communities, I appreciate the ways in which we are learning through the program,” said Molly Hamaker-Teals, director of teaching and learning at ESD 123. “The lens through which I approach life has changed, and for that, I am truly grateful.”
Region 16–sponsored participants learn alongside other NECP students during the two-year program. This is the fourth NECP cohort and the second cohort with students sponsored by Region 16.
This cohort will complete the program in summer 2024.
- Region 16 has funded 54 local, regional, and state educational agency leaders across two NECP cohorts.
- These leaders collectively support all 1.1 million K–12 students in Washington.
- The two-year program helps educators meaningfully engage with Native students, families, and communities.
Sponsoring ESD and OSPI leaders in the Native Education Certificate Program is part of Region 16 Comprehensive Center’s Washington State Service Plan. Learn more about how we’re supporting capacity-building work in Washington at r16cc.org/projects.
1. This total reflects data recorded in the Comprehensive Education Data and Research System (CEDARS) for the 2022–23 school year. CEDARS data includes students reported as American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic (19,046), American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic (31,619), and two or more races, where the student is reported as American Indian/Alaska Native and at least one other race (19,691). Published state counts typically reflect students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic only.