Equity & Inclusion Newsletter

February 2022, Staff Edition

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Honoring Region 15 Families: Black History Month Video Project

Together with three student leaders from PHS, we are compiling a video project made up of short video clip contributions from Region 15 students and/or their family members. For this video project, the idea is to ask interested contributors to respond to a few questions to honor the richness within African American and Black cultures, histories, heritages, stories, and legacies. This video can then be shared with the Region 15 community through this newsletter, on the district's website, and with staff to share with students.

We had the idea of creating a video with clips from the lived experiences, knowledge, and richness within our community to celebrate Black History Month as one way we can honor our community's families & Black History Month on a local level.

If you are interested in participating by contributing a short video clip, please contact equity_inclusion@region15.org at your earliest convenience!

February Read Aloud Video

While Black history is history that belongs in each month, this newsletter is dedicated to the honoring of Black History Month in February. The book selected to share in the video below is one we filmed in 202, and would like to offer up again as one of many incredible texts that focus on Black brilliance, struggles, and contributions. It "spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy," as well as liberation and civic engagement, all of which need to be lifted up in the teaching and learning of Black history (Workman Publishing, 2020).

In this video, five students and Ms.Gaffney, their LMES 5th grade Writing teacher, volunteered as guest readers to share the book The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer. This book is recommended by the publisher for ages 5-99! Please consider sharing with your classes during the month of February.

Note: This read aloud is being shared with the permission of Workman Publishing.

The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez & Lauren Semmer

Recent Work: Elementary Spotlight

To launch Black History Month in Grade 4 at GES, students explored this digital exhibition hall and collaborated with one another using Padlet to track what they gleaned, and to share with peers. All month long, students can browse the digital museum, read linked books on Epic!, and contribute to the ongoing learning being shared both in person and digitally. From Juneteenth to contemporary musician Trombone Shorty to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, this collection has sparked tremendous effort, joy and collective knowledge building with our students, and we hope it will with you, too!
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Lunar New Year 2022 was February 1, and MES students enjoyed a read aloud by Mrs. Pellicone of Playing with Lanterns by Wang Yage, illustrated by Zhu Chengliang, in which the narrator recounts their observance of the New Year in rural, northern China.

Calendar of Religious Observances: February 2022

Why is this information important?

  • The towns of Middlebury and Southbury are made up of families representing many different religious and cultural identities.

  • The information below is offered as a resource to increase awareness of & respect for religious observations and ethnic and cultural festivities. These observances may affect students, colleagues and neighbors in our community.

What are some ways this information can be used?

Calendar planning by for use in scheduling and planning details, for example:

  • workplace festivities

  • community events

  • school activities and exams

Feb. 1: Lunar New Year: (Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist, many Asian and Asian American families celebrate) Also known as the Spring Festival, an important festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day: Celebrates the idea of romantic love

Feb. 15: Nirvana Day: (Buddhist) Celebrates the day when the historical Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body. Sometimes celebrated on February 8.

Feb. 16: Magha Puja: (Buddhist) Also known as Sangha Day, it commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 disciples, completely enlightened monks, in the historical Buddha's presence.

Feb. 28 Maha Shivaratri: (Hindu) Also called Shiva Ratri, the Great Night of Shiva, is a festival in reverence of the god Shiva. The festival is celebrated at the 13th night or 14th day of the waning moon in the Hindu calendar (month of February or March of the English calendar)

(Source: Anti-Defamation League)

Because our intention in sharing this information is to increase awareness of and respect for religious observations and ethnic and cultural festivities that may affect students, colleagues and neighbors in our community, your input is important. Please email equity_inclusion@region15.org if there is something we missed!

Newsletter background design

The background design of this newsletter comes from our students at LMES and their art teacher, Mrs. Clough. Each quarter of a concentric circle was designed by a different LMES student, and their designs were mindfully put together across grade levels (one concentric circle could feature an artist from grades K, 2, 4, and 5 for example). This design signifies both the importance of what makes us individuals, as well as ways in which we are unified. This display was inspired by Wendy Libby of Fruitree School in Bangor, Maine.

Contact & Social Media

Instagram: @r15equity_inclusion

*Note: Image (c) 2019 CLC Collective and Dottir Press