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News Releases
Puget Sound ESD Native American Education Program Awarded Boeing STEM Grant - 12/01/20

Puget Sound Educational Service District’s Native American Education Program (NAEP) is the proud recipient of a second straight Boeing STEM grant for $75,000.  The Red Road Project, a culturally-infused STEM curriculum led by Native American educators, will reach 400 K-12 Native American students in four Pierce County, Washington school districts.  

The largest local grant from Boeing went to the PSESD and will be used to engage and inspire over 400 Native American youth in Franklin Pierce, Peninsula, Sumner-Bonney Lake, and University Place school districts in the South Puget Sound region of Washington state. Program staff, who are all enrolled tribal members, merge STEM ideas and concepts with Native American culture to share lessons around topics like the life cycle of salmon, traditional foods of Indigenous people, and modern STEM with hands-on activities, even sharing their work at district-wide STEM fairs.

Partnering and supporting staff in the grant work will be Washington Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA). MESA is a national program recognized for its innovative and effective academic development with a focus on increasing representation in the STEM workforce for students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

“Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have used science and technology to survive, to adapt, to create, and to thrive,” said Puget Sound Educational Service District NAEP Manager Jason LaFontaine (Turtle Mountain Chippewa). “The focus of the Boeing STEM grant is to show Native youth how their cultural ways of knowing and their future can be seen through the lens of science, technology, engineering and math.”

“We recognize the toll on Native American and Indigenous communities from centuries of injustice, and we take seriously our role in supporting education and development in these communities,” said Marc Allen, Boeing’s chief strategy officer, senior vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development and enterprise executive sponsor of the Boeing Native American Network. “Today’s exciting announcement continues our longstanding efforts to lift up equity and opportunity in the communities where our employees live and work.”

Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) is one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts and state approved charter and private schools in Washington. Educational Service Districts, created by the legislature, are an essential regional delivery system for early learning and K-postsecondary services in the state.

PSESD strives to improve the quality, equity, and efficiency of educational programs through partnerships with K-12 education, early learning, higher education, and public and private organizations.

Mehret Tekle-Awarun Head Shot
Mehret Tekle-Awarun Head Shot
Puget Sound Educational Service District Appoints Two New Board Directors (Photo) - 11/17/20

Renton, WA

The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Board of Directors is excited to announce its appointment of two new Board Directors. The two appointees fill vacant positions on the nine-member board.

Eric Harris (District 2, serving North/Central/West Seattle, Bainbridge Island and Vashon Island) and Mehret Tekle-Awarun (District 5, serving Renton, Kent and South Seattle) have been appointed to the PSESD Board of Directors. 

Eric Harris

Eric Harris is a native of North Carolina, but like many in the tech industry, has found the Pacific Northwest as his new home. He currently works as the Senior Program Manager at Microsoft helping bridge the customer experience journey across various Microsoft products.

During his spare time, he enjoys mentoring youth and young adults in the areas of technology, financial literacy, and personal development. He is active in his local church and volunteers in the local community with organizations such as S.O.D.A. and the Red Cross. His previous experience with organizations such as HIP, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and The Boys and Girls Club has shaped much of his perspectives around things such as food security, educational programs, and public advocacy. He understands the necessity of equity in education and serves with different organizations empowering local leaders to think differently about the present issues and how they can reduce or solve them. 

His passion for helping others has led him to author two books on technology platforms, speak at various engagements, volunteer as a strategic business consultant for small businesses, and help organizations locally and at the state level address issues facing many at-risk youth/families today.

Mehret Tekle-Awarun

Mehret Tekle-Awarun is Senior Manager of Education Strategy at Building Changes, a statewide agency that works across systems to advance equitable responses that address housing and education crises experienced by children, youth, and families. Mehret transforms ideas into action, fostering the supportive relationships and healthy environments needed to improve student centered services for the more than 40,000 students experiencing homelessness in Washington. 

She has more than a decade of experience working for school districts and the nonprofit sector in South King County. Mehret is an equity-driven and highly experienced manager with a history in leading successful program development and initiatives for low income and immigrant and refugee communities’ access to education and health opportunities.

Mehret currently resides in Renton with her husband and toddler daughter. Mehret grew up in a rich culturally connected community of Southeast Seattle where she was influenced greatly by her upbringing. She is committed toward culturally responsive solutions that respect and honor the perspectives and strengths of all families and students. She believes strongly that families are experts in their children’s lives, and students are experts in identifying their academic goals. An Eritrean American, Mehret works in cordial partnership with families, students, and communities that have been historically marginalized to ensure they are engaged fully in the education process and achieve education justice. Mehret relates well to the desires of educators, families, and students to be successful, having achieved success herself through the encouragement and support she received from her schools, her family, and her community.


"The primary work of the PSESD Board is to oversee and guide the PSESD in achieving our End, Success for Each Child and Eliminate the Opportunity Gap by Leading with Racial Equity. I am confident our new board directors will contribute tremendously to this important work," said Jordan Posamentier, PSESD Board Chair. 

ESDs are governed by a board of directors consisting of seven or nine citizens who are accountable to and elected by the school board members in the region's public school districts. The board members represent geographic director districts based on U.S. Census data. 

The ESD boards provide direction to their superintendent who is advised by local school district superintendents. Newly appointed board members were sworn into their positions at the October 16, 2020 Board Meeting, held virtually. Each appointee will be required to run in the next general ESD Board Director election in fall 2021.