Big Heart Luncheon for Equity in Education
The Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education held our first “Big Heart luncheon” on March 20, 2019. The luncheon was catered by Island Soul Catering and was sponsored by Theresa Nguyen State Farm, ZenRock Fitness, and Maximum Sports Conditioning. We were fortunate to have over 50 individuals, primarily working as activists and/or educators in early childhood education in the Puget Sound region, join us to help us kick off our new annual fundraising luncheon event. We were thrilled that attendees at the event noted an atmosphere of solidarity and community, some even mentioned that the event felt like a community “reunion.”
Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova served as our host for the event. Miriam started out our event by welcoming us by telling a couple of stories about her personal connection with Praxis ECE while reminding attendees about Praxis’ mission and values, and specifically our commitment to equity in education.
During this event we introduced our new annual Zakiya Stewart Award which we will be awarding annually to an individual in recognition of their contributions and the Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education, commitment to equity and equality, and overall contributions to our community. The award is named after Zakiya Stewart. Zakiya passed away last year and her work was inspiring and while we continue to miss her greatly, we are proud to remember her and participate in her legacy by naming our award after her.
This year, our first recipient of our award was Dr. Debra Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan’s work has been crucial to Praxis. Specifically, she has modelled the spirit of perseverance that serves to inspire all of us at Praxis. Dr. Sullivan was a founder and first president of Praxis and she shepherded our institute through its formative years. Over the past two years she has worked tirelessly to found and lead the new Ashe Academy charter school which will be an educational jewel dedicated to the achievement, development and growth of African /American elementary age students.
During the event attendees were graced with a beautiful Native American song about community sung by Miriam who was accompanied by Suzette Espinoza-Cruz.
Also during our event three baskets were raffled off to attendees. In addition to other “treats and goodies” the baskets contained Dr. Sullivan’s book Cultivating the Genius of Black Children as well as Zakiya Stewart’s book Helping Ordinary Kids Become Extraordinary Learners. The baskets themselves were beautifully weaved, and donated, by Marilyn Thomas Schier. Marilyn is a long-time early childhood education luminary in Seattle and was an original member of the Culturally Relevant Anti-bias Leadership Group which was an ECE and equity mainstay in the northwest for many years.
We were thrilled to be able to host this event that featured thought provoking discussions about equity in education, privilege, and social justice. We were also pleased to be able to raise a significant amount of money (it is up to you folks if you want to say how much). We’re so grateful to our sponsors and participants for their donations to help us host this event and also make essential contributions to help us do our vital work. Thank you! We’re excited that this first annual event was so successful and we’re looking forward to having it again next year!
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