By now, many of you are probably aware of the controversy that surrounded George Washington Bush Middle School’s Veteran’s Day assembly on Thursday, November 9th. At the assembly, a Confederate flag was displayed as part of a program featuring the chronological history of American flags from 1775 to the present.
Bush Middle School is one of the schools in Tumwater served by TOGETHER!’s Community Schools program. TOGETHER! holds equity as a core value in all of our work. Racism is a barrier to the success of our children and, as such, fighting against systemic racism is necessary to our mission of advancing the health and well-being of all young people.
The Confederate flag was never an official flag of the United States of America. Rather, it represents a movement within this country that continues, to this day, to threaten the safety of communities of color. We agree with the district’s position that its inclusion in the assembly was historically inaccurate as well as deeply insensitive.
This incident shines a light on the importance of addressing systemic racism, not only for Tumwater Schools, but for our entire community. The precipice of change in which we find ourselves compels us to focus on collaboration work that is focused on solutions with all of our partners. TOGETHER!’s role within the district has been and will continue to be a supportive one. Through extensive conversation with district leadership, we are deepening our collaborative partnership to support their growth towards providing a truly safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment.
We do not expect this change to take place immediately or without difficulty. Our commitment to the district and the community is that we will continue doing the work that is so important to us, ensuring that all students have an equal chance to succeed in school and in life.
Meagan Darrow & Meghan Sullivan Goldenberger
This month, TOGETHER! participated in the first ever Give Local online giving campaign, and we are amazed by the results! Fifty of you donated to our campaign, raising $3,550 to support the expansion of Community Schools into Rochester and Yelm. Your support helps us create more school-based Community Resource Centers, connect more students and families with needed resources, and build more supportive communities for all our young people. Thank you! We can't do this work without you.
We'd also like to thank the Community Foundation for coordinating Give Local; Coldwell Banker, Greene Realty, and Olympia Federal Savings for sponsoring the campaign; South Sound Partners for Philanthropy for sponsoring Giving Bonus Wednesdays; and the Dawkins Charitable Trust for providing a matching grant, ensuring that your donations will go even further.
These funds will support programs like Right From the Start, which coordinates story times and play groups for children ages 0-5 while coordinating resources for their families, and Yelm Community Schools, which connects middle school students and their families in Yelm to networks of support to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in school. All of our Community Schools programs share, at their core, our values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to succeed in school and in life, and we are committed to building systems that work for everyone. But we can't do it alone -- your support means so much. Thank you for being a part of our community!
TOGETHER! is thrilled to welcome Right from the Start, and early learning center that serves families with children ages 0-5 in Rochester, WA, to our family of programs. Right from the Start, previously overseen by The United Way of Thurston County, engages whole families and communities with educational opportunities for parents as well as children, family engagement and community building events, Parents as Teachers group connections, and referrals to community resources.
Services like weekly story times, play groups, and parenting classes welcome families to the center and allow Nancy Villanueva, program coordinator, the opportunity to assess need and coordinate services for families. Every family that attends a Right from the Start program gets connected to a supportive community where they can access support and resources they might not have known were available.
Family engagement and community partnerships are the cornerstone of TOGETHER!’s work for youth, so Right from the Start is a perfect fit with our organization. Access to high-quality early learning is crucial for ensuring that students are ready for kindergarten, setting them up for success through the rest of their K-12 years. Right from the Start not only makes early learning accessible, but provides comprehensive services that support the whole child and whole family. It’s the kind of work that TOGETHER! is proud to partner on, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to do this work in Rochester.