The Road Map Project Community Leadership Team provides visionary leadership and community accountability in guiding the Road Map Project to ensure the work is community led and conducted through a racial equity lens. Learn more about each of the members through this series.
Brianna Ishihara is an Intermediate Emotional Behavioral Center Special Education Paraeducator in the Highline School District. Brianna holds a Bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies, with a minor in human rights, from the University of Washington Bothell. She was formerly employed by the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Seattle Central College and has worked with local nonprofit organization, APICAT, on centering youth ideas and voices in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.
1. In one sentence, how would you sum up your day-to-day work?
I support co-taught 4th and 5th grade students academically and connect with families to make sure our scholars are accessing school during remote learning.
2. What do you want people to know about the community or communities you are part of?
Despite the “model minority myth”, there are many inequities in regards to accessing health resources, citizenship, money etc. within the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian (AAPINH) communities, which is why disaggregating data is very important.
3. Tell us about a time when an educator or educational experience made a big impact on you.
I think having the privilege of being taught by many educators of color from a young age helped to build a sense of confidence in my identity. I went to an ethnically and culturally diverse K-8 grade school and then to a predominantly white, all-girls high school. I remember one time my world history teacher in high school, who was Filipinx American, pulled me aside after my friends and I were making jokes about each other during study hall. She told me that by us (students of color) saying these things about ourselves, gave permission for white students to do the same. Looking back, had that lesson come from a different teacher I’m not sure I’d take it to heart the same way.
4. Tell us about one social justice advocate who has influenced the work you do/the causes you champion?
Someone that has influenced the work I do in education is Aki Kurose, a Japanese American educator and longtime social justice activist from Seattle. She was a very close friend to my grandparents, so I knew her as Grandma Aki. Grandma Aki reached many lifetime achievements including helping to establish Washington state’s Head Start program and being awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. My biggest take away from her legacy is valuing the importance of working cross-culturally with communities of color and emphasizing experiential learning versus sole memorization as a teacher.
5. If you can make one immediate change to the education system, what would it be?
Readily transform the racist systems and practices that promote the school-to-prison pipeline, beginning with elementary school.
6. What excites you about being part of the CLT?
I’m excited about the potential of our collective impact in South King County as partners representing different communities.
7. Finish this sentence: To me, anti-racism means…
truly and actively challenging and changing what we’ve been taught through our thoughts, ideas and practices.
8. What was the last thing you read, watched, or listened to? Would you recommend it?
Bridgerton on Netflix. And yes, I’d recommend watching it because I love Shonda Rhimes.
9. Where is your favorite place to go in the Road Map Project region (South Seattle and South King County)?
Walking around the loop at Seward Park and shopping/eating around Southcenter in Tukwila.
10. What is one of your most cherished family traditions?
Celebrating Christmas night at my one of my auntie’s houses with all of our cousins & eating traditional Japanese foods on New Year’s Day.
11. What inspires you?
Working with youth!
Posted in: Community Leadership Team