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Superintendent Coogan addresses race in community conversation

Tukwila School Superintendent Nancy Coogan - Michelle Conerly, Tukwila Reporter
Tukwila School Superintendent Nancy Coogan
— image credit: Michelle Conerly, Tukwila Reporter

Tukwila School District's new superintendent Nancy Coogan hosted a conversation to address race and other topics of interest within the district.

At the meeting held Tuesday at the Foster High School PAC, about 50 parents, School Board members, community partners and administrators voiced their opinions and suggestions to the new administration.

Present at the meeting were Mark Wahlstrom, School Board president, Pat Larson, newly appointed principal of Foster High School, and Mellody Matthes, the interim superintendent, along with other administrators.

Caprice Hollins, former Seattle Public Schools director of equity and race relations, facilitated the conversation. As community members spoke, both Coogan and Larson took extensive notes.

One of the main concerns expressed by the crowd was the diversification of the teaching staff in the district. Many wished that there were more teachers of color, but Jennifer Johnson, candidate for the Tukwila School Board, believes that teachers can still connect with students who are of a different race or culture.

"Just because (the teaching staff doesn't) look like a child that doesn't mean they aren't sensitive to the challenges the student faces," Johnson said.

Another topic of conversation focused on sustaining any changes made within the district. Coogan told the crowd that in collaboration with the School Board and other administrators, she will be drafting a three-year strategic plan to mark the progress the district is making in various areas. Many members of the audience appreciated this effort and hoped more conversations like the one held that night would continue throughout the year.

"We have to start somewhere, and this is a great start," said one community member.

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