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Lakeridge Elementary Teaches a Combo of Ethnic Studies and SEL

This month we are featuring some important work being done by two educators at Lakeridge Elementary School in the Renton School District. Jenna Middleton, SEL coach, and Angela Varela, counselor, began with a few questions – What could it look like for our students to receive culturally relevant and responsive lessons? How could we incorporate opportunities for reflection after these lessons every month?

These two educators have dedicated this school year to crafting a new curriculum for Lakeridge students—a combination of ethnic studies and social emotional learning. Using a different topic each month, classroom teachers are given a set of lessons and ideas for engaging students. Month to month, the theme changes. Here are a few of the lessons from this year:

  • learning about Indigenous peoples
  • what it means to be an “upstander” for the AAPI community
  • understanding why Black lives matter
  • voting rights
Notes from Lakeridge students
Lakeridge students were able to share their reflections about their voting rights lessons with their city council member!

Lakeridge students are grappling with the challenging questions of what it means to be in a diverse community and what that looks like for themselves and their school.

The 5th grade students, after a few months of engaging with these lessons, are posing thoughtful questions, noticing patterns and parallels, and they are curious about the connection in their lessons to their own lived experiences. Imagine kindergartners who begin learning these lessons their first year of school, and how they will be able to engage around these topics by the time they are 5th graders!

Angela and Jenna have created a foundation for the Lakeridge community to build on for years to come, and the whole school community has taken this work on as a shared vision. Thank you for sharing this inspiring work with us!


Roshaé Lowe is a Facilitator with Sound Discipline