Silver Creek increases commitment to Indigenous education

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OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen
Earlier this school year, Silver Creek Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston, left, recognized Mary Williams, right, for her service to the district. Williams is now the district’s full-time Native American Education Program Coordinator.

SILVER CREEK — Earlier this school year, the Silver Creek Central School District held a meeting at the Seneca Nation of Indians Early Childhood Learning Center library. The district then recognized Mary Williams for the work that she does in coordinating the district’s Native American education programs with its students and families.

At a more recent meeting, Williams had those duties increased to a full-time position. Williams was officially appointed as the district’s full-time Native American Education Program Coordinator by the Silver Creek Board of Education.

“I appreciate the Board of Education’s support as we make these changes. I appreciate the time that people are putting in to make sure our school is more equitable and inclusive,” Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston said.

Williams’ new official position carries a probationary term of one year as a civil service position before it becomes a permanent appointment. Williams submitted her letter of resignation from her previous role as a mathematics 7-12 academic support teacher to accept the new position. She had been splitting time between the mathematics department and as the Title VI coordinator in two part-time positions.

“That setup didn’t allow for the flexibility of what our students and families need, and didn’t allow her the time to put into this,” Ralston said.

Ralston noted that the position was increased to a full-time role in the district to “build the program and the connections that we know that we need.”

Williams will be available to the district’s families and students of all ages throughout the day on campus. Ralston said that Williams will serve as “a connection between the school and our Native American families.”

Ralston noted in a previous meeting that Williams, as a member of the Tri-District Regional Group — comprising Silver Creek, Gowanda, and Lake Shore school districts — has facilitated a series of cultural events for all three districts. Williams also led the implementation of the district’s Indigenous Honor Society, which held its first Induction Ceremony a year ago.

Ralston also previously noted that Williams is responsible for writing and implementing the district’s Title VI grant, and is also the facilitator of the Title VI Parent Committee.

Still, with Williams’ efforts through Title VI, Ralston thought it was necessary to specify her role as Native American Education Program Coordinator to show that her duties are about much more than just grant money for the district.

“Changing her title shows that this is not something that is only grant-funded or only temporary for the amount of a grant. It’s something that is built into our district and is part of the Silver Creek Central School District culture,” Ralston said.

The board also approved two other probationary appointments at the recent meeting.

Karielle Case, was appointed to a probationary position as a school social worker, commencing Feb. 26, with a three-year probationary period. Case, who holds permanent certification as a school social worker, will receive a prorated salary of $55,762 at Schedule A, Step E of the Silver Creek Teachers’ Association contract, recognizing 10 years of prior experience.

Christina Pierino was appointed to a probationary position as an art teacher, commencing on Monday, with a four-year probationary period. Pierino, who holds initial certification in visual arts, will receive a prorated salary of $40,500 at Schedule A, Level A of the Silver Creek Teachers’ Association contract.

Additionally, Ella Monaco and Bailey Zbytek were approved by the board as substitute teacher aides. Amber Strychalski was appointed as a substitute advisor for the 2024 ski club. The appointment of Sierra Craig as a substitute teacher, listed on the Dec. 14 agenda, was rescinded.

The board also recently approved a revised school calendar for the year and accepted a Memorandum of Agreement between the Superintendent and the Silver Creek Teachers’ Association regarding Sick Bank days.

A donation of two custom black and gold Silver Creek chairs from Jen and Wes Johnson was also graciously accepted. Jen Johnson is the school nurse and Wes Johnson is the school resource officer. The chairs will be utilized as stage props and for other events as needed.

The Board of Education also received a presentation from students about the upcoming eclipse. “That was really good,” Ralston said.



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