MSAA Matters

April Volume I

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"Believe in the possibility that we can strive to be antiracist from this day forward."

From author Ibram X. Kendi in the book: How To Be An Antiracist

April 1st

Dear MSAA Leaders,

I hope this issue of MSAA Matters finds you well. Are you all thinking the same thing I am, is the snow over for the school year?

In this edition you will find information regarding the upcoming virtual EdCamp Play on Monday, April 4th from 3:00 - 5:00 PM and Wednesday, April 6th from 7:00 - 9:00 AM.

I want to thank all who attended the MSAA Annual PreK-8 Spring Conference on how to be an anti-racist leader. Our assessments are coming back very strong ranging from our outstanding Keynotes, Dr. Henry Turner on Thursday, Dr. Nicole Christian Brathwaite, Iris Haq Lukolyo and Heather Haq on Friday. I have copied and pasted Iris' speech below. Iris spoke eloquently Friday, March 10th and her words just compelled you to want to do a better job at being an anti-racist leader, after all isn't that what we want to do for the children? Be on the lookout for a slideshow of some great pictures from the Conference taken by O'Connor Studios!

Iris: "About a year ago I was in 5th grade. A pretty normal easy year. Or at least that's what I thought. Imagine being in a history class and being told by your teacher that “We don’t talk about slavery.” The class is specifically for learning history and being able to ask questions about history. Well, not in my class. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Let me explain by telling you a story of something that happened around that time.

This was back in the fall of 2020. As everyone here remembers, 2020 was a tough year. Not only was it the start of the pandemic, when kids were forced into virtual school, and experiencing the isolation of quarantine. But it was also the year when there was an uprising of awareness about police brutality. George Floyd was burtally murdered by the now fired police officer Derek Chauvin. Overall things were tough.

I was in my virtual social studies class and we were learning about the building of America. The teacher, who was white, was listing names of white historic figures like George Washington and the Founding Fathers. In my head, I was like ummmm, did you forget something about who physically, literally built America? So I got off mute and said, “But didn’t slaves build this country?” The teacher snapped, “No! We don’t talk about slavery in this class!”

In that moment, I honestly felt like I had asked a stupid question. I didn’t focus for the rest of class. I started thinking this isn’t how me or anyone in a classroom should be dismissed after simply just being curious. As soon as that class was over my mind was flooded full of thoughts and emotions. I had so much I wanted to say, at that moment it was as if all I could do was write everything down. I started writing and I just couldn't stop. With one sentence came the next. For once when I was writing I felt as if everything going on in my mind was meant to be on that paper. Words, then sentences, then paragraphs were just coming to my mind immediately on that paper. For the first time in my life I was enjoying writing and I wasn't struggling or second guessing anything I wrote down.

I shared the essay with my mom. As soon as I showed it to her, she said it was powerful! It needed to be shared. Eventually my mom posted a picture of my writing to a social media group for anti-racist doctors, including Dr. Nicole who just spoke. They encouraged her to get it published. We submitted it to a youth literary magazine and it was officially published! Of course I didn't think much of it. I noticed that it was getting so much attention not just from people I personally know but people from everywhere. I was hearing from teachers, university professors, NFL players, and authors like Dr. Ibram Kendi. As I read some comments my face lit up seeing how people were inspired and moved by a bad experience that led to an amazing piece of writing. Next thing I knew, the Washington Post interviewed me about my experience!

There was nothing unique about my story, in fact this type of thing happens all the time. I was speaking for other kids in classrooms around the world who have similar experiences. I think the reason people were inspired by my writing is because I was brutally honest. I was realistic. I was unapologetic.

Meanwhile, you won’t believe what happened when my mom reached out to my social studies teacher to talk about the impact of her behavior and to seek an apology. This so-called apology ended up being yet another racial incident. The teacher asked me to recount again what had happened even though my mom had already told her. As I was reminding her what had happened, I watched her become visibly uncomfortable. She grew flustered and her face turned bright red. She immediately became defensive and said, “Well my grandfather was raised by a Black woman! I love Black people!” In my head, I wondered if this Black nanny was overworked and underpaid. I thought, the fact that her granddad was raised by a Black woman had literally nothing to do with the incident! She was trying so hard to find anything related to my race to make me feel the slightest bit better…but it actually had the opposite effect. It made me feel awkward and unheard. What’s worse - I, the child, was put in the position to comfort her, the teacher.

Here’s the thing, I don’t expect teachers, especially white teachers, to get it right 100% of the time, as everyone should know we are all learning and growing together. I do expect an apology from teachers who make students feel uncomfortable because of their race. An apology should be sincere and understanding! This is especially important in a learning environment if you want students to feel comfortable asking questions to learn to their fullest ability. After that, I started to put less effort into her class because I felt like even if I did try to my fullest abilities, I wouldn’t be seen or heard. I felt that the history that was being taught wasn’t my history, wasn’t our history. It wasn’t the true history of America - it was a watered down, whitewashed version that left me wondering where people who look like me fit in!

It has been over a year since this experience. One thing I never knew would come out of this is that I'm somewhat glad this happened. It helped me and others pay more attention to what educators can do to make students–especially students of color–feel heard or seen when asking a question or sharing an experience. Without that experience I never would have written that essay and never would have found some sense of joy in writing and educating others. School is a place for learning and growing on all topics. I always say if we want something to change we have to learn about it so we won't repeat our same mistakes.

Now I’m in 6th grade. Overall things are going better this year. I’ve got some great teachers, including Mrs. Smith who helped me practice this speech.

But this year instead of the teachers being the problem, it’s the students. My classmates’ racist comments have shifted and grown more bold over the years. While they used to say things like “You don’t look anything like your mom,” or “your skin is ugly,” now they say things like the N-word. One day at lunch, a white boy called one of my Black friends the N-word. We reported it and supposedly he got disciplined, but I couldn’t tell if it made any difference because the next week he said it again. I didn’t have faith that the school even cared or would do anything about it, so I took matters into my own hands. I put a post-it note on the boy’s back that said “I’m racist, I said the N-word.”

You want to guess what happened next? I got suspension for “bullying” him! When my mom called the school to stand up for me and to explain that I was responding to trauma in the best way I knew how, the Assistant Principal scoffed, “Well, we have video footage of Iris laughing when she put the post-it note on his back - she couldn’t have been that traumatized.”

…I’m sorry, but what does this white woman know about being called a racist slur?! Who is she to say that my laughter wasn’t me trying to cover up the sense of anger that I felt? And now it’s almost like the Assistant Principal’s words hurt me more than the boy who said the N-word. Because I really didn’t feel like she cared.

In conclusion, I just want teachers and principals to understand all the things that students of color go through. Keep in mind that even one word of empathy can make a difference. But - empathy alone is not enough. You need to learn how to truly become an anti-racist."

EdCamp Play

Click here to learn what is an EdCamp

The Department’s Early Learning Team is collaborating with the Massachusetts School Administrators Association to bring a second round of EdCamp PLAY! Sessions. The same session will be offered twice (pick the one best for you): 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 4 or 7:00-9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6. This opportunity is a chance for preschool to third grade administrators and educators to learn more about DESE and MSAA’s position statement, “Approaches to Intentional and Playful Learning in Preschool through Grade 3 Classrooms (download) and share ideas about play in early childhood. Interested individuals are asked to register online.

MSAA Leadership Licensure Program (LLP)

The MSAA Leadership Licensure Program (LLP) is a one year DESE approved program that fulfills all the requirements for an educator to obtain the Principal/Assistant Principal certification. It has been in existence for 15 years. Our graduates, ranging in numbers of 20-40 per year, tell us it has a powerful impact on their ability to be effective leaders in the various schools throughout the Commonwealth.

The instructors of LLP courses are retired or practicing superintendents and principals. All are or have been long time successful leaders in their districts. The course of studies is delivered in the summer and on weekends (1 per month) beginning in June and ending in May the following year. Instructors come from our partnerTeachers21.

Our state also requires the successful completion of the Massachusetts Performance of Leaders (MAPAL) prior to granting the initial certification for the principalship. LLP has imbedded the requirements of MAPAL in the content of the courses as much as possible. In addition, LLP provides training in the completion of MAPAL and one-to-one advisory about this process. Our graduates far exceed the passing rate of the state average on MAPAL.

LLP is provided by MSAA as an alternative to a formal graduate program. We provided PDPS.

We also partner with Fitchburg University to offer both a Master’s Degree and a CAGS.

We are proud of LLP because our graduates inform us how inspirational the experience was to them, and how LLP impacted their effective leadership in actual practice. We depend primarily on current leaders encouraging the teacher-leaders to learn more about the LLP and apply for admission. LLP has a web section on its home page. Please reach out to perspective candidates who are interested in administration!

For more information, please visit our LLP website at

Massachusetts Partnership for Youth

Is offering some timely and relevant webinars in April ranging from a legal webinar for educators to mindfulness to racial justice. Check out the array of webinars here.

Horace Mann

There is important information below on Horace Mann's Loan forgiveness program.

Current Articles/Videos/Podcasts/Resources

I have included 3 outstanding resources in this edition on racism. The first is a very powerful video regarding our hidden biases and chronicles a young boy's childhood and how racism has affected his life. The next article is actually an opinion piece form EdWeek, the author makes a compelling case for why we should not ignore racism and how we do more harm to all children when we do.

Closing Message from Bob Baldwin

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of ALL children. You are making a difference!

Warm Regards,


Beth Wittcoff

MSAA Assistant Executive Director

MSAA Matters Newsletter

Middle Level and Elementary Committee Liaison

Ring Central Gatherings

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Latest Articles, Videos, and Relevant Resources

Our Hidden Biases

Monday April 4th Assistant Principal Conference In-person @ Doubletree Hotel Milford, MA

8:00 AM - 2:15 PM

Monday, April 4th Ed Camp Play 2.0 in partnership with DESE - Virtual 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Wednesday, April 6th Ed Camp Play 2.0 in partnership with DESE - Virtual 7:00 - 9:00 AM

MSAA Position Papers



See member email for links to these gatherings!

There will be no meetings on the Monday holidays.

1st Monday of the Month High School Administrator Gatherings 3 PM

2nd Monday of the Month Assistant Principal Gatherings 3 PM

2nd Monday of the Month PreK - 8 4 PM

3rd Monday of the Month Middle Level Administrators 3 PM

4th Monday of the Month All Level Administrators 4 PM


Professional Development Opportunities


April 4, 2022, Back to the Future - Assistant Principal Conference, Keynote: Christine Ravesi-Weinstein, Leadership and Administration, Katie Kampersal,

Asynchronous Online

Flyer and Registration), Presenter, PD Content Area, MSAA Contact

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Co-Teaching: Fostering a Culture that Includes all Students in an Inclusionary Setting, Dr. Judy Ann DeLucia, Seaside Educational Consultants, Curriculum and Instruction

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Managing Student Behaviors in All Settings: Home, School, Remote, Dr. Curtis Bates, Seaside Educational Consultants, Curriculum and Instruction

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Restorative Justice, Dr. Curtis Bates, Seaside Educational Consultants, Leadership and Administration

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, How to Deliver Effective Feedback and Have a Difficult Conversation, Dr. Judy Ann DeLucia, Seaside Educational Consultants, Leadership and Administration

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Perceived Anxiety: Regulating Internal Stimulation, Patric Barbieri, Seaside Educational Consultants, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Sustaining Educator Wellness, Christopher Dodge, Seaside Educational Consultants, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Succeeding with Students with Special Needs (Special Education Licensure Renwal), William Simmons, Ribas Associates and Publications, Special Education

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Succeeding with English Language Learners, (ELL for Licensure Renewal), Dr. Cindy Crimmin, Ribas Associates and Publications, English Language Arts,

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom: The Gateway to Learning Recovery, Dr. Deborah Brady, Ribas Associates and Publications, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments,

Learning Portal open January 24 through May 27, 2022, Differentiated Instruction to Promote Maximum Learning Acceleration, Carol Gregory, Ribas Associates and Publications, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments



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Franklin Covey Leader in Me Program and Unconscious Bias Program

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