The Port Angeles School District has a long standing relationship with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. In 1998, the two organizations created and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to make a formal government-to-government relationship.
“We are proud of the government-to-government relationship with PASD as most Districts do not have this level of understanding and communication,” said Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles during the Nov. 10, 2021 board meeting. “Our Tribal staff works incredibly hard to support the needs of Native students. They provide daily check-ins and are a constant presence in their lives to make sure they succeed.”
How PASD and LEKT work together to provide stronger education for all
- Restoring and sharing the Klallam language. PASD is proud to partner with OSPI and LEKT to support the LEKT Language Program across the District. Jonathan Arakawa, Harmony Arakawa, Carmen Watson-Charles, Wendy Sampson, Angelina Sosa and Ashley Pitchford received District grants to continue their education to be Klallam language certified. This year, Wendy took a teaching position in the PASD to continue the work of her predecessor and mentor, Jamie Valadez, helping the next generation of language learners.
- Professional development. On Nov. 1, 2021 PASD held a professional learning day for all teachers and paraeducators. Among the speakers was the District’s new Native American Liaison, Carmen Watson-Charles, who shared the history of the Klallam people, her ancestors’ struggles, traditions and practices for living off the land throughout the Olympic Peninsula.
- Native American Day at Dry Creek Elementary. On Nov. 2 Dry Creek Elementary celebrated Native American Day with drumming, singing, storytelling, beading, weaving and carving. Members from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe shared their stories, traditions, and Klallam Language. Thank you and háʔnəŋ cn to the volunteers who made this special day possible.
- Cultural conversations. SMS Stem-X Global Teacher Dan Lieberman and Jonathan Arkawa lead a weekly Sharing Circle where students learn and discuss topics including the impacts of Native mascots, the history of Native American boarding schools and other topics. In addition, every PASD board meeting begins with a land acknowledgment — the school board operates on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people, specifically the Klallam tribes, who have reserved territory rights to the land. The board thanks these caretakers of the land, who have lived and continue to live here since Time Immemorial.
- New strategies and supports. Work continues on the Since Time Immemorial curriculum, and the PASD is committed to increased identification of Native American students as Highly Capable Learners. They’ve also implemented the “Handle with Care” program which benefits all students. If a youth has a stressful or traumatic encounter, loved ones or first responders can notify the school to “handle the student with care” while keeping details of the event confidential. PASD consults with The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to provide education to staff, families, and students with the expertise of Klallam/Native educators. Native American Interventionists Jessica Elofson and Reba Cornelson are Elwha members and are employed by the School District to provide daily support to students in the classroom.
“PASD is grateful for the relationship and trust the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has bestowed upon our District. We are committed to bringing forth and advocating for truth, reconciliation, and healing, working in consultation with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe,” said Superintendent Marty Brewer.