Equity and Family Empowerment

Winchester Public Schools - May 2022

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and celebrates the culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, signed House Joint Resolution 1007 - which later became Public Law 95-419 - proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week. It was in 1990 that the week was expanded to a month, and 1992 when Congress annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands.

Resources for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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Jewish American Heritage Month recognizes the history of Jewish contributions to American culture, acknowledging the diverse achievement of American Jews. President George W. Bush, in April 2006, officially declared May as Jewish American Heritage Month.

Resources for Jewish American Heritage Month

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  • May 5: Cinco de Mayo: In 1862 Mexican forces defeated French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla.
  • May 8: Mother’s Day: A day for children of all ages and individuals to show appreciation for their mothers and mother figures.
  • May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity: Recognizes cultural diversity as a source of innovation, exchange and creativity, as well as the obligation to create a more peaceful and equitable society based on mutual respect.
  • May 30: Memorial Day: A federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Religious Observances:

  1. May 2: EID AL-FITR (Islamic): The “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn until dusk.
  2. May 16: VISAKHA PUJA (Buddhist): Also known as Vesak or Buddha Day, it marks the birth, spiritual awakening and death (nirvana) of the historical Buddha.
  3. May 19: Lag B’Omer (Jewish): Celebrates the end of a divine-sent plague and/or Roman occupation during Rabbi Akiva‟s lifetime (died c. 135 CE).
  4. May 26: Ascension Day (Christian): Celebrated 40 days after Easter/Pascha, it commemorates the ascension of Jesus into Heaven.

Note: Observances are provided as cited on the ADL Calendar of Observances. Additional information is available on the Equity and Family Empowerment’s Calendar of Observances and Religious Observances.

Employee Affinity Groups

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Winchester Public Schools (WPS) is committed to ensuring that each member of the WPS team

engages in a culture of equitable and empowered learning by developing individual and shared

professional goals while executing continuous improvement actions through collective efficacy

and shared accountability. Our goal is to empower our team through affinity groups where participants may learn, respond and improve conditions for staff.

If you as an employee of WPS want to lead an affinity group beginning during the 2022-2023 school year, then review this application for guidance. Feel free to contact me with questions.

Monthly Thought

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture with several colleagues and students. One of the most impactful moments was my conversation with a student who had been in thoughtful reflection while moving through the exhibits. As we chatted, the student expressed gratitude for (a) being able to visit the museum and its impact, (b) being enrolled in the African American History course at John Handley, which provided prior knowledge regarding certain exhibits, and (c) expanding knowledge of what was not known before touring the museum - all of which the student expressed enriched his academic experience overall. Seeing the student, as well as the other students, process their experience at the museum was rewarding and reminded me of the power of exposure to other cultures, which brings me to my first year in Winchester Public Schools.

I have visited Winchester numerous times my entire life for various reasons, yet visiting versus immersing oneself in the fabric of the community are two very different realities. Within my first couple of weeks in my role here, Mrs. Judy McKiernan taught me facts about the city. Initially when informed we were going to "see" Winchester, I thought, "I know Winchester." Yet within a few short minutes of visiting different locations, I realized there was much more to learn. "How did I not know this?" I asked myself over and over as each unique highlight was visited and/or discussed. I didn't know what I didn't know. The time Judy spent with me that day, teaching me what I thought I already knew about Winchester's culture has left a lasting impression.

As I think about working with others regarding equity and cultural responsiveness, many individuals over time have stated to me, in one form or another, "I didn't know what I didn't know" as they concluded an experience through via various mediums. That's the beauty of cultural responsiveness. It helps us expand our awareness, understanding, and knowledge when we are open to guidance from others, even in areas where we are well versed.

As I consider WPS educators, thank you for continually providing opportunities to expand the experiences of our students, as well as seeking to understand others. Equity is a journey on which there are often deeper levels to explore.

I'm looking forward to continued growth!

Resources for Consideration:

Leading and Learning for Equity is a Collective Journey

Asian Pacific Heritage Month: Asian - How You See Me

Kids Connect to Jewish Heritage through Art

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MERREC Educators of Color Conference in Richmond

Join the Minority Educator Recruitment, Retention and Equity Center (MERREC) for our 2022 Educators of Color Conference. The mission of the conference is to hold critical conversations centered on addressing the issues surrounding the recruitment, retainment and support of educators of color working in both the P-12 and college/university setting.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

VCU Academic Learning Commons


Early Bird: $199 (March 14 - May 6, 2022)
Standard: $249 (April 7 - June 6, 2022)

*All prices include a continental breakfast and lunch*

REGISTER HERE or visit the Educators of Color conference page.

Olga Lengyel Institute and LCPS

Teachers interested in increasing their capacities to engage students in exploring human rights in their classrooms are invited to apply to this seminar, sponsored by TOLI and supported by Loudoun County Public Schools. This free seminar will be held on June 20-24 in Sterling. Explore today!

Addressing the Needs of Diverse Learners - Summer Institute

The Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Office of Special Education Instructional Services, in partnership with the Offices of Humanities and Gifted Education, will sponsor a collaborative summer Institute on Addressing the Needs of Diverse Learners. The Institute will include three consecutive conferences that will take place on July 18, 19, and 20, 2022, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Richmond. Each conference day will run from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and will focus on addressing the needs of students with disabilities in a specific context.

Cultural Responsiveness: Excavating Your Story

Information regarding this opportunity will be sent this month via your email account.This title was originally entitled: Our Stories Through the Lens of Equity and will be available through Canvas.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Awareness to Action

Information regarding this opportunity will be sent this month via your email account.

Twenty educators will have the opportunity to participate in Culturally Responsive Teaching: Awareness to Action. This course allows educators to explore the foundations of culturally relevant teaching—what it is, why it’s important—and learn actionable strategies to ensure that students of all backgrounds have equitable opportunities for success.

Goals and objectives of the course include:

● Exploring the foundations of culturally responsive teaching

● Examining the role that relationship-building, curriculum planning and educator mindsets play in creating a culturally responsive environment

● Applying strategies to reflect a more culturally responsive approach

● Reflecting on personal beliefs

● Developing a plan