My name is Nichole Watson and I am super excited to be on full-time release with PAT to strengthen our organizational focus on racial equity and community partnerships. This incredible opportunity is a result of the Racial Equity Task Force, which was the brainchild of our very own Adolfo Garza-Cano and former PPS educator Tai Said-Hall.
In 2018-19, I stepped in to co-chair the Racial Equity Task Force alongside Adolfo and chair the Black Lives Matter Committee, one of our subcommittees. During the academic year, the Racial Equity Task Force, which is intentionally comprised of educators of color, focused on providing affinity spaces to build solid relationships and offer a safe opportunity to share our experiences, fears, setbacks, obstacles, victories and aspirations in the classroom. We successfully hosted three mixers for educators of color that were well attended and deeply impactful.
The Black Lives Matter Committee, which is open to all educators, focused on Black Lives Matter Week of Action which takes place the first week of February. We came together as a committee and provided lesson plans and resources for educators that wanted to honor the 13 Guiding Principles in their classrooms. In addition, we hosted a film and panel discussion centered around the ‘America to Me’ series that aired on Starz and wrote a Resolution for the PPS School Board to formally recognize BLM Week of Action and support educators who leaned in, courageously, to celebrate the week.
Take a look at our year-in-review which highlights the meaningful work we did together.
In the coming year, the Racial Equity Task Force and Black Lives Matter Committee will continue their efforts as I am able to dedicate my full attention and energy to ensure we use this momentum as a launching pad for great work ahead!
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, PAT applied for a grant, with our national union, the National Education Association (NEA), that outlined what we could do with a teacher on full-time release to focus on racial equity in our large local. And we got it!
This particular position is perhaps different than anything we’ve seen in PAT before. In fact, not many locals around the country have been given the opportunity that we have in PAT with this position. It speaks to NEA’s commitment to racial equity AND their belief that educators are the experts and our voices belong at the tables WE build!
As an Oregon native and PPS graduate, I am deeply committed to this work and look forward to laboring alongside each of you as we push the envelope, continue to build affinity spaces within our local, support students and families and establish authentic relationships in our communities. We got this!
We know what to do, because we are indeed the experts and highly trained practitioners who put it down for kids every single day! So, let’s respond like only educators can by building, supporting and growing our own! Let’s take this opportunity to lean into discomfort and show ‘em what we’re made of!
I hope you’ll join the movement because PAT is charting a path and carving out a lane that doesn’t currently exist. Let’s do it together!
I look forward to spending time into your classrooms and on your campuses. Let me know how I can serve you and your students and families!
Yours in the Movement!