This district is offering diversity training sessions for staff. These training sessions are optional and focus on different topics such as microaggressions, equity and allyship. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the district made all of the training sessions virtual.
Terri Roberts-Leonard, the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) Officer leads these efforts.
She said via email, “The series for staff is the ‘Excellence in Equity’ series, which is a workshop series designed for employees to provide opportunities to learn, dialogue and develop important diversity, equity and inclusion skills as well as to provide resources for use in everyday work.”
Zyrah Arulogun, member of Black Student Alliance and junior, said she believes this is a step in the right direction for the school district.
She said,” However, it’s only the first step. There’s more that needs to happen, but I am glad the DEI officer is there (to provide these training sessions).”
Superintendent Michael Beresford said the district aims to involve more students.
He said, “We had a lot of questions in how we could better engage our kids and we circled around to equity and inclusion work, making sure (students) felt comfortable in class and felt that they had a voice in class.”
Roberts-Leonard said she will continue to have virtual staff training sessions over the summer.
In addition, Roberts-Leonard also hosts a variety of other training sessions, some of which include caregiver listening sessions. These are sessions in which members of the community are provided the opportunity to share their firsthand experiences.
“Overall our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives are components of our efforts to help create inclusive and identity safe learning environments for all students,” she said.
Beresford said, “We want our teachers and our staff to be highly trained, so that we aren’t missing something. The picture that every kid feels included, every kid is treated equally. And I think this is the pathway to get there.”
Roberts-Leonard said despite some concerns from the community, it has been welcomed.
She said, “The concerns expressed are not in line with the things that we do and our approach to DEI work. I think if individuals were aware of that then most of their concerns would no longer be there.”
Roberts-Leonard believes that it is important for people to be properly informed.
She said, “It is important for people to know that they should inquire to Dr. Beresford or myself if they have questions. There is a ton of misinformation out there. Ask us directly to get the truth about what is going on. We only have the best interest of our students and staff in mind. Additionally, we value diversity of thought and opinion but it is best when brought forth in a respectful and constructive manner.”