Ten years ago a group of teachers, professors, and education activists got together to put on a conference to share insights and resources, and to inspire one another in teaching for social justice. In 2017, Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference (NWTSJ) hosted their 10th annual conference. The organization’s mission is to offer the opportunity for participants to build social justice networks for people to share knowledge and resources. NWTSJ is dedicated to sustaining and strengthening public education through social justice teaching and education activism. NWTSJ workshops aim to provide resources that promote equity and racial justice in the classroom. Grassroots efforts are encouraged in schools and communities to enhance the learning and well-being of our children, and to build broad democratic movements for social and environmental justice.
To enact their mission, NWTSJ hosts and organizes an annual conference for teachers, teacher educators, and interested community members in the Northwest. The conference is held in Seattle and Portland in alternate years. The full-day conference includes a keynote speaker, a resource fair with more than 30 non-profit community, social justice, and educational organizations, and more than 60 workshops led by local educators. Workshops are selected that express a social justice perspective, are hands on and practical, and give participants a chance to talk with one another about teaching for social justice and rethinking our school system.
NWTSJ is committed to keeping the conference fee as low as possible. The current registration fees for students and teachers are $10 and $35, with lunch included. No one is turned away for inability to pay. The conference is entirely organized by volunteers. Much of the food—breakfast, coffee, and snacks—is donated in-kind. Most of the organization’s revenue is used to pay for the lunch and other rental costs associated with the conference.
Sarah McFarlane, co-Chair
Sarah Heller McFarlane received a BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1985, and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis & Clark College in 1988. Sarah has been teaching social studies in the Shoreline School District since 1990 and has been at Shorewood High School since 1991, where she teaches US History and Civics.
Kevin Marshall, Secretary
Kevin Marshall has his Masters of Arts in Education from Pacific Lutheran University. Kevin has been teaching high school English for seven years at Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District. Kevin has also been a member of the Franklin Pierce School District Core Business Team for two years, has served as a union building representative, and has coached basketball for three years.
Marian Wagner, Treasurer
Marian Wagner has her Master’s in Teaching from the University of Washington. Marian has been teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades for 12 years at Salmon Bay K-8 School in Seattle Public Schools. Marion is the K-8 representative on the board of directors of Seattle Education Association, has served on two contract bargaining teams in Seattle, and has been on Seattle School District’s Professional Growth and Evaluation Committee for seven years.