CENTERING DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING
This Fall we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness, Diwali Celebrations, Down Syndrome Awareness, Dyslexia Awareness, Emotional Wellness, LGBTQ+ History Month, National Hispanic Heritage, Veterans Day, Indigenous/Native American History Month & Thanksgiving.
We are really in the full swing of things here in the Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging! Our District Climate, Culture, & Anti-Bullying Specialist has been spending time in all eleven WTPS district schools. Ms. Connor is acquiring the pulse of the climate/culture of each school, and collaborating with administrators, teachers, students and families in furthering our DEIB initiatives. As we bring out our warm Fall/Winter coats, cozy up with the DEIB department for some informative Fall updates, news and resources.
October we celebrated LGBTQ History Month!
"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." - Mohandas Gandhi
In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, dedicated the month of October to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11th), occur that month.
Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association, and other national organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion, and resources for LGBT History Month. Visit this link for resources: https://www.equalityforum.com/
The WTPS Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging is happy to recognize and uplift these voices this month and every other!
COMMUNITY DISCUSSION ON WTHS PRODUCTION OF “THE LARAMIE PROJECT”
The Laramie Project, a 2000 play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, chronicles the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The murder was denounced as a hate crime and brought attention to the lack of hate crime laws in various states, including Wyoming.
District Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Dr. J. Alexander, Washington Township High School Drama teacher Abby Molotsky, and members of the District’s Diversity Committee, including teachers Brittany Mason, Jessica Kelleher, and Christina Mazur, joined members of the WTHS Gender and Sexuality Alliance Club, the Social Justice Advisory Board, and Rowan Family Medicine Mullica Hill Residency Program Director in a discussion about the school’s production of The Laramie Project. The community forum was held on Monday, November 7, 2022, from 7-8 p.m. in the school’s Republic Bank Performing Arts Center (RBPAC). This event gave students and a small group of panelists a chance to talk about community engagement, including language, advocacy, resources, and the need to create safe spaces for the LGBTQIA community and other identities.
☮️ WTPS CELEBRATED THE NATIONAL WEEK OF RESPECT ☮️
We were so excited to celebrate The Week of Respect throughout the district October 3rd – October 7th. Administrators, teachers and students in all grade levels certainly got in the spirit of recognizing and exemplifying the tenants of “The Golden Rule”. Here are some recaps from our fun-filled, respectful week!
On Tuesday, October 4th, students wore Purple to represent Loyalty & Respect for others.
The last week of October, we celebrated National Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s largest and longest-running drug awareness and prevention program. The 2022 theme was, Celebrate Life, Live Drug Free”.
Throughout the district, students and staff wore bracelets and red ribbons to show their commitment to be Bully and Drug Free! WTPS high school and middle school students enjoyed a presentation from representatives of NJCARES. The assemblies provided students with a comprehensive understanding of the support and pathways to recovery for individuals and families affected by substance use disorder(s).
WTPS CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING & INDIGENOUS/NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH!
The Friday following Thanksgiving is a civil holiday observing the day as Native American Heritage Day. This acknowledgement further highlights the importance of recognizing the many contributions that Native people have made to the United States - Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Native Hawaiians - along with other Indigenous people across the globe. Alaska is home to nearly 40 percent of all federally recognized Tribes. November 26th, Native American Heritage Day, is a time to honor the culture and heritage that millions of Native people share with us daily.
Looking for ways to celebrate this month and every month? Consider the following to get you started:
- Read about the origins of Native American History Month and the history of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
- Visit a Museum! Indigenous/Native American culture has played an important role in both New Jersey and American history from the first Thanksgiving to the current day. Spend an afternoon learning about and experiencing the lives of America's first people. Visit a reconstructed village or a wigwam.
WTPS is a public school district with realities that are composed of various experiences, motivations, and identities that should be celebrated daily. The Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) will assist with identifying interconnecting opportunities that support the WTPS community and promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging by developing and sustaining meaningful and collaborative relationships. These collaborations will result in creating a more diverse and inclusive community and centering the voices of our community to drive District-wide, culturally sustaining initiatives and equitable opportunities.