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Stacy Parish, Wisdom Panel

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Wisdom Panel: From Standing Rock to Palestine~People, Place, Planet

Stacy Parrish

My name is Stacy Parrish and I’m a badass inner-city principal at Denver’s High Tech Early College. As a member of the Klamath tribe, I pride myself in being one of the very few indigenous leaders in our large, metropolitan district and strive to be an inspiration to other native youth to pursue their life’s passion to be the change they wish to see. As a Native American leader, I value harmony and growth and see the medicine wheel as quintessential visual representation of the journey we are all on in our lives to be truly transformative in all that we do, especially as public educators.

As a leader in urban school reform, I hold blunt opinions on how current policy and the diatribe of what “marginalized students” and what “our teachers” need, to be dreadfully dreary, and aspire to change the dialogue of not only how we talk about education, but how we deliver quality, public education. The days of standardized direct instruction, content learning out of context and the lack of relevancy to real-life learning, often drive students out of traditional school ecosystems, especially as one transitions to the high school level of their education. All too often the response to students who have shown signs of disengagement or academic at-risk factors in middle school (i.e. being below grade level in a given subject) is to over-remediate students—removing them from engaging electives, the arts, or enrichment opportunities that encourage them to think creatively and critically as the norm. This negatively impacts how they view education overall. In my school, we work to un-do the trauma that this experience has done to students by making education liberating again through project-based learning and through the empowerment of my teachers.

My wife, Bre, and 3 year old son, Blue, reside in Arvada, where we enjoy raising chickens, hiking and camping, and attending art and cultural events in and around Denver. We are proud to have been plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit that helped bring marriage equality to Colorado and will continue to fight for social justice and civil rights issues that affect our state and country. This past year, I traveled to Standing Rock and watched as the Seventh Sacred ceremonial fire was lit during the Sacred Horse ceremony and it profoundly impacted my philosophy of how I engage adults in the courageous work of public education.