Friday, January 29, 2010

Rainier Beach Coalition Town Hall

Last night, community residents of the Rainier Beach area packed Southlake High School for the annual Town Hall. This event was hosted by the Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition. Under the leadership of Mr. Gregory Davis, a local resident, the coalition has been instrumental in strengthening a sense of community and advocacy throughout the neighborhood.

The evening was filled with food, a dynamic arts presentation, awards ceremony, outlining of Coalition priorities and project activities, and facilitated breakout groups. Special guests included Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, City Councilmember Sally Clark, and Seattle School Board Director Betty Patu, along with over a hundred youth and families.

I had the distinct pleasure of facilitating the education breakout session in partnership with Dawn Bennett, African American Family and Community Engagement Liaison for Seattle Public Schools. Our group included current Rainier Beach High School students, community based organizations, educators, parents, and senior citizens. During this rich dialogue, we explored timely issues such as the South East Initiative, strategies to increase accountability for academic achievement, early education, mentoring, environmental education, and civic engagement.

It was truly inspiring to hear the thoughtful concerns and ideas of our youth and community advocates. They clearly identified a vision and need for quality education in the southeast community. There are some elements of great programs and practice, but more consistent resources are needed across all schools. Our participants addressed key issues such as teacher quality and the need for schools to become the hub of our community; a place that provides full academic and social support for students. The principal of Rainier Beach High School, Dr. Robert Gary, specifically stressed the need for the community to mobilize around our schools and for all residents to play an active role in the support of our students, staff, and families.

Other breakout sessions explored issues of public safety, transportation, environment, economic development, and youth and families.

It is clear that great community building is happening in the southeast, but we all have a responsibility to contribute to the success of this prosperous neighborhood.

For more information on the RB Coalition, please click on the attached link

-Solynn McCurdy, AFE

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