by George J Elbaum
Six years ago, almost to the day, I told my story for the first time to young students. It was at Seattle’s Alternative School #1, the 7th & 8th grade classes of teacher Jo Cripps, and that talk is the very first post in this weblog. Since then, Alternative School #1 had morphed into Pinehurst K-8 which in turn morphed into Licton Springs K-8 School in Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood. I spoke there today, once again to 7th & 8th grade classes of teacher Jo Cripps! In the intervening 6 years I have spoken at more than 100 venues, yet today’s event felt a bit like homecoming.
The stated mission of Licton Springs K-8 is to provide its students with “a creative, holistic, experiential learning environment which nurtures respect, self-discovery and integrity, preparing the whole child to engage our global community.” To accomplish its mission, it uses “an alternative method of teaching that emphasizes hands-on learning, culturally responsive curriculum, and community engagement.”
Conscious of its Northwest location, the school emphasizes the area’s Native experience, culture, and history while serving a diverse, multicultural student community, and connecting learning in the classroom to real-world context. Its curriculum is therefore “Native focused, honoring Northwest tribes and the diversity of Native people throughout the Americas, and includes social justice education, an individualized approach for different types of learners, frequent field trips and community speakers, and shared decision making.”
The same enthusiasm that teacher Jo Cripps transferred to her students 6 years ago was again visible today. I was especially touched when signing autographs after my talk – the students wanted not only their notebooks signed but also hats, cell phones, arms, and even a forehead…a request which I negotiated downward to the boy’s forearm! Assisting Jo Cripps was instructional assistant Muniba Mushtag.
Today’s talk was arranged by Julia Thompson of the Holocaust Center for Humanity.