Cultural Diversity & Equity

November 2020 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Comprehensive Diversity Equity and Inclusion Plan (DEI) 2019-20
  2. Welcome 2020 Cultural Proficiency Team Members
  3. Cultural Proficiency Wednesdays!
  4. Equity Advisory Committee Elections
  5. Holiday Season Reminders
  6. Restorative Justice Course

ICCSD Comprehensive Diversity Equity and Inclusion Plan (DEI)

With the help of the ICCSD staff, community members, and the University of Iowa Public Policy Center the district has developed a robust DEI that will help our guide and provide goals and parameters for our district as we strive to create and maintain inclusive and supportive environments for our students, teachers, and staff!

The DEI is broken into the specific target goals below. To see a copy of the full DEI, click here.

Big picture

Welcome 2020-21 Cultural Proficiency Team!

We are excited to introduce our new Cultural Proficiency Team! Every year a team is assembled of like minded people that are looking to grow and make change in our district! This team will focus on Cultural Proficiency in our schools and serve as valuable resources to push for inclusion and progress! We know that this group of talented passionate people will do great things for our students and our district.

Please give a warm shout out to the 2020-21 Team!

Diana Frisbie

Matthew Rice

Katy Bolender

Dolores Silva

Scott Black

Julie Gesell

Wendi Peterson

Kristine Kliewer

Monique Cottman

Heather Schmitt

Cynthia Bellah-Cabeza

Whitney DeBey

Jose Tolentino

Elisabeth Ross

Kate Murray

Catie Liddle

Carmen Gwenigale

Annie Dillard

Nathan Kelley

Sarah Dowd

Renee Zukin

Kamaria Blackwell

Jennifer Rose

Jeremy Negus

Karla Lopez Velador

Katherine Doran

Lisa Mellecker

Jodi Gibson

Dawn BarbouRoske

Sarah Latcham

Correne Bass

Sydney McDermott

Jeffrey Conner

Jill Hofmockel

Alexei Lalagos

Cultural Proficiency Wednesdays!


This year, Iowa City Community School District staff will engage in monthly PDs to learn more about Cultural Proficiency and how to implement this into their practice. These PDs led by Director of Diversity and Cultural Responsiveness Laura Gray will tackle tough topics and give staff resources and support so they can learn more about their students and themselves.

The day after each PD there will be an opportunity to debrief and discuss experiences and feelings with Cultural Proficiency Team members and facilitators. This will provide a safe and supportive environment to explore your feelings about what you learned and think about what you need to move forward.

Understanding that we will need to be flexible due to the current pandemic and uncertainty regarding school attendance and activities, our work will be solely online this year.

Mandatory Monthly District-wide PD WEDNESDAYS

(Elementary 2:10 pm- 3:10 pm / Secondary 3:15 pm- 4:15 pm)

  • October 28th- Cultural Proficiency Overview: Who Are You?
  • December 9th- Culturally Responsive Teaching and Anti-Racism
  • January 13th- Enacting White Supremacy Culture: Who Contributes, In What Ways, and What We Can Do About It
  • February 3rd- Friend, Ally, Co-Conspirator, or Bystander
  • April 7th- Intersectionality: Race and LGBTQ
  • May 12th- Track Your Bias: ICCSD Admin Guidelines and LGBTQ

Thursday Debriefing Sessions

To provide more opportunities for support, each month there will be a follow-up debrief session for the Wednesday PDs the next day on Thursday at 6 pm.

If you are interested in participating, please use the exit ticket sent to you during Wednesday's PD to indicate that you will join us!

Equity Advisory Committee Elections

Every October the Equity Advisory Committee comes together to elect a new Chair and Vice-Chair. This year the committee has decided to make a change to be more inclusive to student's voices. To do this, they have decided to have Co-Chairs, one of which will be held by one of our very own ICCSD students!

Allow us to extend our congratulations to our new Co-Chairs and Vice-Chair for the 2020-21 school year! We know that they will make a great team and continue to guide the committee in the right direction!

  • Co-Chair: Jayne Finch
  • Co-Chair: Dasia Taylor
  • Vice-Chair: Rebekah Tilley

We also need to give a BIG shout out to our new student voices on the committee! This year the Equity Advisory Committee has added four students to their ranks. These students have proven to be tremendously resourceful, thoughtful, and passionate about Equity, and they are a valued part of the committee!


  • Aditi Borde
  • Caroline Barker
  • Dasia Taylor
  • Paras Bassuk

Holiday Season is upon us!

As winter approaches and many holidays creep closer, we would like to issue a few gentle reminders in order to ensure ICCSD celebrates the season in a Culturally Proficient and appropriate way.


  • Not all cultures celebrate Christmas. Many of our families celebrate during this time of year, whether they observe Christmas, Hanukkah, or are just happy to get some time off school, we at ICCSD want to support each and every one of our families.
  • Do not equate all of your students of color with being low SES. While hearts may be in the right place, making blanket generalizations like this about a racial group is harmful to our kiddos. Get to know your students and their individual background instead!
  • Engaging in Christmas activities may land culturally destructive for some of your students. Be mindful of the needs of your diverse student population when planning events, activities, or lessons around holidays.
  • Our district uses the term "Holiday or Winter Break" on purpose. This is to be inclusive of our many non-Christian families.

In Case You Missed It!

Restorative Practices Online Course for Credit

Saturday, Oct. 24th, 9am to Saturday, Dec. 5th, 9am

This is an online event.

Date: October 24, November 7 & 21, December 5 and 12, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Course #: EDMA 288:715
Instructor: Nathan Kelley, Annie Tucker, Laura Gray, Lore Bauer, & Brian Brandsmeier
Types of Credit: License Renewal, Graduate or Audit
Credit: 1 credit

This will be held Live via Zoom.

**The class is for Iowa City CSD employees only.**

This course focuses on the fundamentals of restorative justice, restorative practices, and relationship building for classroom teachers and service providers. It explores the role restorative practices play in relationship building and building capacity in dialogue around race relations and social justice. Participants will be able to:

● Identify parts of a restorative circle and types of circles
● Identify examples of restorative practices and justify its place in classroom/ school
● Name a systemic issue within their school district, organization or school building and
create a plan of action to change the systems
● Identify ways in which to engage students in restorative practices online

Required Text:

  1. Included Text While Supplies Last for ICCSD Teachers

    Boyes-Watson, C., & Pranis, K. (2015). Circle forward: Building a restorative school community. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press.

  2. Students will purchase

    Evans, K., & Vaandering, D. (2016). The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education: Fostering Responsibility, Healing, and Hope in Schools. Good Books.

Please contact Nathan Kelley with questions regarding this class -

Who is in the Equity Department?

About Us

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the Iowa City Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please contact Jeremy Tabor, Director of Equity & Employee Relations