Centering Communities for Sustainable Change

Even as the year winds down, the Region 16 Comprehensive Center Advisory Board Program keeps moving ahead at full speed.

The focus remains on the topics that have been discussed at previous gatherings. This time, there was a greater emphasis on whole group discussion than there has typically been.

Centering on the entire group changes the dynamic. Using the topics identified by Advisory Board members as themes, speakers within the group shared their respective state’s current initiatives. This allowed for greater insight into creating common goals and discovering how to leverage the expertise within the region.

“I appreciated hearing more of what Oregon and Alaska are up to and situating that with Washington,” said Dr. Anthony Craig, the Director of the Leadership for Learning Program at the University of Washington.

“I think that if we’re going to be a regional center, there are necessary explorations and understandings we need to develop around being a collective.”

Each new voice from AK, OR, and WA brings new perspectives and ideas on approaching challenges across the region. Having an aligning message and strategy only strengthens each state.

For instance, Alaska may face more significant challenges in retaining teachers in rural areas. This may mean that they have some unique methods for dealing with this challenge.

Teacher retention may not affect Washington and Oregon in the same way and yet data suggests that this is something all three states face. Still, the methods Alaska uses could potentially open new doors for dealing with their own teacher retention in rural parts of the states.

This isn’t exclusive to teacher retention either. Native education, equity, and student-centered learning topics all gained the same benefits from sharing across states.

Ultimately, the goal of the Advisory Board Program is to involve the communities and individuals these challenges affect. The decisions made will always come back to the people we serve.

“Our goal is really to involve all stakeholders from all different aspects of the entire state to try to implement a supportive system that empowers local control to continue to do what they do well,” says Barbara Adams, a consultant for Adams Analytics Solutions. “[We need] to make sure that our system is integrated in a way that allows local control to do the best they can to create an excellent education for every student every day that connects to our education plan.”

“For us, the idea of student-centered education and equity are consistently at the heart of all of the conversations and how our departments are even organized at the state.”

The vision of the R16CC Advisory Board Program has become more apparent. The program will continue to center communities at the heart of this work in order to reach our vision of improving the quality and equity of education for each student in our region. R16CC will continue to asynchronously engage members and regional convenings focused on the group’s identified topics will be hosted, starting soon.

The Advisory Board meetings will be spaced out further in the upcoming calendar year to allow for community engagement in the interim.

The next Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for February 17.

Published December 10, 2021

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