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Federal Way school board reflects on outgoing members’ contributions
The Dec. 10 meeting of the Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) board of directors marked the last time that two members, Angela Griffin and Ed Barney, would sit at the dais as members of the board.
Superintendent Rob Neu, and board members Tony Moore, Claire Wilson and Danny Peterson took the time to share their thoughts on their departing colleagues’ contributions to the district.
“I appreciate the conversations that we’ve had that hadn’t been going on, on issues of equity, and pushing my thinking and my understanding,” Neu said to Griffin. “I really appreciate it, I’ve learned a great deal from you in that realm. And I appreciate the work you led on equity, and your legacy in this district will forever be closing the gap.”
Neu said Barney’s unwavering support of the elementary track program will be his lasting contribution to the district.
“Your passion for students, for young children, for athletics and physical fitness and health is your legacy at this district,” he said. “I know you’ve been doing that for a very long time, and certainly, from your seat as a board member, you’ve done a great job at pushing us forward…I just want to thank both of you for your leadership, your friendship and your courage during these challenging and difficult times.”
“You two have both poured your life into Federal Way Public Schools,” Peterson said. “I just wish you two the best, and thank you for your service.”
Moore touched on Barney’s quiet leadership, a theme that many noted of the man who served on the board since 2001.
“You have been a consistent leader on the board. You lead in a quiet but powerful way without a lot of fanfare,” Moore said. “You have been a steady force on the board. I’ve learned a lot from you and I take that with me.”
Moore, like Neu, said that Griffin challenged him to think in ways he was unused to, but ultimately helped him be a better leader and advocate for students in the district.
“I don’t know that anybody has challenged me in the ways that you’ve challenged me,” he said. “We have had very nice conversations, we’ve had very unpleasant conversations. But in that process, I have gotten stronger.”
Wilson also noted Griffin’s ability to bring forth difficult subjects and have a civil conversation about them.
“Angela, you are my ally, probably in some of the most important conversations about race. Because that’s what equity is all about,” she said. “That’s what inclusion is all about, and that’s what the opportunity gap is all about. Given everything else, it boils down to how we work together and get the same access and opportunity, how we see what’s best for all kids. I will never forget that.”
Wilson said Barney’s long tenure on the board has been an invaluable asset in recent years.
“We will miss someone, who is not living in the past, but is able to give us some information and frame why we are where are, and perhaps where we come from, and where find ourselves today, and then helps us look forward based on that,” she said.
Griffin said she’s happy with what FWPS has accomplished in the four years she was on the board.
“I’m really excited about some of the things we were able to push forward during my short stint here,” she said. “Academic acceleration and standards-based education…It’s been critical, and I appreciate being able to be part of those processes.”
For Barney, he said it’s been a privilege to be a member of the board for so long.
“I loved the opportunity to serve this board, to serve this community,” he said simply. “It’s been an enjoyable time, it’s been great working with you folks over the last few years.”