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Update on Chelsea Schools Diversity, Belonging, Equity and Inclusion work

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Andrea Franco for the information in this story.)

The Chelsea School District continues to work on Diversity, Belonging, Equity and Inclusion (DBEI) topics, and the Equity and Social Justice Coalition (ESJC).

This work is also aligned with our Portrait of a Graduate model, encouraging students to be Globally and Culturally Conscious, Involved Contributors, Advocates, Empathetic, Problem-Solvers, and Civic-Minded.

As presented to the Board of Education (BOE) and in previous articles in the Chelsea Update, our staff have embraced the work around building environments where everyone is valued and supported. Communicating these efforts with our community is important and we would like to share our reflections on recent happenings, as well as our next steps in this work.

Our work formally began in February of 2020 with conversations about the clear growing need of establishing and putting into motion the development of an intentional action plan to address our district’s needs in the areas of DBEI.

The ESJC steering committee was formed and has met several times, presenting and updating the BOE regularly, initiated the first steps of our action plan, and conducted the first Student Voice Panel in July.

Phase 1 of the action plan includes staff self-reflection and growth, creating safe and brave spaces for sharing reflections and communicating among staff, collecting and providing solid equity and social justice resources, increasing the number of staff members attending internal and external training/professional development, and providing students opportunities to share their voices in a variety of ways. 

On Sept. 23, we had our first ESJC meeting with new staff members who volunteered to be part of this work and learn more about equity and social justice in our district. This meeting provided staff members with an opportunity to reflect on our group norms, share their “why” for being a part of this group, and discussed how we can continue moving forward with this work during an already stressful time.

It was great to have over 60 participants, including Board of Education members, administration, and a large cross-section of staff from each department, join this work with many others focusing on self-reflection and growth.

Actions that have occurred since the start of school:

  • “Speak Up” guides, a Teaching Tolerance resource, were explained and provided to each building’s staff meeting in September, helping staff learn how to be interrupters who redirect racist conversations.
  • Work teams with specific roles are being developed and will be shared at our next ESJC meeting in October.
  • Contacted students and staff for our next Student Voice Panel.
  • Our goal is to engage a broader exposure of student voices for staff to listen to and comprehend the great need for safe people and places to which students can report injustices. Our group will continuously engage student voices to collect necessary feedback for providing environments where everybody belongs.
  • Data is being collected from staff and BOE members regarding self-growth and reflection, trainings, and texts we are all reading. This internal data will help us see who has completed specific trainings through various organizations and is considered credentialed in the area of Equity and Social Justice as we build our work teams and leaders.
  • Some of the training opportunities staff are attending include, but are not limited to, WISD-provided Justice Leaders training, WISD Responsive Teaching Institute, and the Community Education, “Bridging the Gap” series.
  • To date, we have had over 100 various trainings attended by staff.
  • State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, has created an antiracist task force with teams of school leaders, educators and students from all over the state who represent our youngest learners to those in higher education. This work team created smaller groups who are looking into reforming curriculum and instruction, policies and procedures, training educators and leaders, and developing a state-wide Common Language.
  • We have two membership seats, one staff member and one student, to represent our district and community.
  • BOE has completed professional development around the areas of explicit bias and privilege.
  • On Monday, Oct. 12, the BOE approved and released its Equity and Social Justice Statement, linked here.
  • In addition to these steps, the district will continue to support our DBEI work through a series of action steps. Some of these steps include; creating safe avenues to provide support for all stakeholders, providing resources that allow staff and students to ask questions as they occur, and providing a place where staff and students can safely submit concerns.
  • The ESJC recognizes that in order to support the environment of belonging, communication is both necessary and essential for all stakeholders.
  • You can expect additional updates both here and via the school’s communication systems. 

Please feel free to contact Andrea Franco for more information: [email protected].

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