Cultural Diversity & Equity

May 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Department Updates
  2. What's happening in our schools?
  3. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
  4. Jewish American Heritage Month
  5. Mental Health Awareness Month
  6. Haitian Heritage Month
  7. Happy Cinco de Mayo
  8. Upcoming Events
  9. Commemorative Observances
  10. Happy Holidays!
Department Updates
To check out more from the Equity department, go to our webpage:

Want to volunteer in our buildings? Join the Community Cares Crew!

Are you interested in volunteering your time to build relationships with our students? We are excited to share a new opportunity for community members to be involved in our schools and to build relationships with students.

The Community Cares Crew will be a new team of volunteers that will go into our buildings to exclusively be a positive influence for our students. The CCC will show up in the mornings and at dismissal to welcome our students into the building, and to see them off home, all the while celebrating them and showing them they are cared about and valued in their school.

If this sounds like something you'd like to be a part of, please follow the instructions on the flyer below, or reach out to Frederick Newell (

United Action for Youth's SPARK Summer programming!

Restorative Justice at ICCSD

It's already May! As we wrap up the school year, we'd like to take time to reflect on our Restorative Justice Initiative and all the good work that our schools have been putting in throughout the year.

We'd like to share just a small amount about the great work that's going on in our buildings:

North Central Jr. High Staff Circles

This year, North Central Jr. High has made a commitment to our Restorative Justice initiative, and they've been showing up in a big way.

This work in the building has been led by Principal Colby Miller, who has ensured that the North Central Jr. High Staff has experienced consistent RJ Staff circles throughout the entire year. (Pictured is a centerpiece created by NCJH for their circles)

This support from admin, and from NCJH staff has been amazing to see, and having regular circles has helped to build community and model restorative practices for teachers that will then bring these skills to their classrooms and students.

Big shout-out once again to Principal Colby Miller and the North Central Jr. High Staff!

Southeast Jr. High Staff gets circle trained!

On May 3rd members of the staff at South East Junior High staff came in on a day off to participate in a 3-hour training where they learned about Restorative Justice, and circles!

These educators have a passion for their students, school, and community, and we commend them for going above and beyond to learn more about circles and to move forward in their RJ journey.

A BIG Shout-out to:

  • Chelsea Sims
  • Julie Bartsch
  • Dana Phelps
  • Erick Fletcher
  • Wendi Peterson
  • Meg Tisinger
  • Chase Castle

We see you and appreciate you!

What's happening in our buildings?

South East Jr. High Dance Team builds community in elementary schools

Some pretty outstanding stuff has been happening in our buildings. The South East Jr. High Dance Team has been traveling to different elementary schools this year to share their art of dance with younger students. They perform some amazing routines (that they created themselves!) and then even let younger students come up with them to learn some steps and show off their skills!

This has been an amazing way to spread awareness about the importance of dance, and also to build community between our elementary schools and our junior highs. The reception from the younger students has been AMAZING, and we know that the sign-up list for the SEJH Dance Team next year is going to be PRETTY long.

Please help us give a big shout-out to these amazing young ladies for all their hard work!

  • Idailyah Bradford - Captain
  • Sydney Schwindt - Captain
  • Liz Degner
  • Poi Borchardt
  • Madison Schuchert

And many, many, many thanks to Coach Tonya Burkett, who has put her whole heart into supporting these kids!

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (Formerly known as Asian/Pacific Heritage Month). During this month, we want to wrap around our students, family, and staff to embrace and recognize the contributions and experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans and celebrate their culture, history, traditions, and achievements in the U.S.!

What countries makeup Asia and the Pacific Islands?

Asia and the Pacific Islands take up a huge chunk of our globe, so when we celebrate this month, we should keep in mind all the amazing diversity within diversity. Every country and region has its own unique culture, traditions, and experiences, and that's pretty exceptional!

When we talk about Asia and the Pacific Islands, this includes the continent of Asia and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island), and Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia).

The SENSES Project SU

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Podcasts by The SENSES Project SU

Want to learn more? Try this free webinar

If you would like to learn more about how to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in your classroom or home, Learning for Justice has a free webinar that may interest you. Check out the course description below:

"In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, join LFJ Professional Development Trainer Sarah-SoonLing Blackburn and Teaching and Learning Specialist Jon Tobin in unpacking the origins, meaning and contemporary impact of the term "Asian American Pacific Islander." We will also break down the model minority myth and provide educators with resources to effectively teach AAPI history.

Earn credit: When you complete 95 percent or more of the webinar, a certificate of completion will be available for you to download and print from within the webinar platform. Please note this certificate will not state how long the webinar was or how long you viewed the webinar. Because Learning for Justice is not a credit-granting agency, we encourage you to check with your administration to determine if your participation will count toward continuing education requirements."

To learn more, click here.

Jewish American Heritage Month May 2022
May is Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) where we recognize the achievements of Jewish Americans!

The month was officially designated as Jewish American Heritage Month by President George W. Bush on April 20th, 2006. This was after the tireless work of Jewish community leaders, especially the Jewish Musen of Florida and the South Florida community.

To view the 2022 White House Proclamation on Jewish American Heritage Month, click here.

During this month, we encourage our staff and community to celebrate our Jewish students, staff, and families, as well as explore more about the rich culture of Jewish people.

Below are some great resources to get you started.

Challenging Antisemitism: Debunking Myths

Take a look at this lesson plan which discusses Antisemitism and how to debunk myths while responding with facts. provides lesson plans for all grade levels, as well as rubrics for standards alignments.

The History of Jewish Life in America | The Jewish Story | Unpacked

Take a Virtual Tour of the Florida Holocaust Museum

Traveling to museums is difficult at the moment, but if you'd like to learn more about the Holocaust this month to honor our Jewish community, there is a free resource that can help.

The Florida Holocaust Museum, in collaboration with the University of South Florida's Tampa Library and Department of History, has put together a virtual project where participants can tour the museum and experience the permanent exhibitions and resources.

Check out the Tutorial Document before you start your tour.

To begin your virtual tour, click here.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 2022
Overview of ICCSD Mental Health Services

ICCSD provides mental health support through a multi-tiered system of support that includes district-wide systems, building-level school staff, and specific services provided to students and their families through community partnerships.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we encourage everyone to take some time to reflect and practice self-care. The observance of this month began back in 1949 and is used to bring attention to those who struggle with mental illness, as well as talk about how important mental health is in our society.

This is something that affects everyone, and it is important that we talk openly about mental health with our students and in our community. This last year has been challenging, and it has had a big impact on the mental health of people of all ages, all over the world. According to the CDC, "During January 20, 2021–February 1, 2021, 23.8% of persons with symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder had unmet mental health needs, and this percentage increased by 2.8 percentage points from August 2020 to February 2021."

We've provided some resources for educators to use in their classrooms, but also resources that everyone can use for self-care.

We encourage you to take a few minutes to practice Grounding techniques in the video below and take a few minutes to appreciate the amazing work you're doing in your life.

Be kind to yourselves this month (and every month)!

Grounding - techniques to manage strong emotions

Community Resources

Listed below are several community resources with which the District has a strong partnership to support our students, families, and staff. We encourage you to reach out if you need additional support.

  • CommUnity: CommUnity Crisis Center’s talk/chat/text line is available 24/7 for students, families, and staff. Call 1-855-325-4296 and you’ll be connected to a trained crisis counselor in Iowa City.

  • United Action for Youth: Specialized support and therapy services for youth and their families. Contact 319-338-7518 to speak with a counselor.

  • Synchrony Employee Assistance Program: Synchrony provides free counseling to District personnel as an employee benefit. Contact 319-351-4357 to speak with a counselor.

  • The City High NESST page has quite a few resources related to mental health as well, which may be useful to share.

Learning For Justice: Mental Health Resources/Lessons

Click here to check out Learning for Justice (Formerly Teaching Tolerance) articles, lesson plans, professional development and more relating to mental health.

Happy Haitian Heritage Month

May is Haitian Heritage Month!

During this month we celebrate Haitian heritage and culture. This celebration first started in Boston in 1998, and since then many states and elected officials have issued proclamations recognizing Haitian Heritage Month in their area.

Mark your calendars for May 18th, which is Haitian Flag Day! Many use this day to explore art, and delicious food and learn more about the traditions and rich culture of the Haitian people.

To learn more about Haitian Heritage, click here, and click here.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

May 5th is Cinco de Mayo, which is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.

While Cinco de Mayo is a relatively small holiday in Mexico, it is much more popular in the United States, where it has evolved into a day to commemorate and celebrate Mexican culture and Mexican American heritage. This Cinco de Mayo, we want to honor our Mexican American students, staff, families, and community.

If you or someone you know celebrates Cinco de Mayo, we hope you have an amazing day!

To learn more about the history of Cinco de Mayo, click here.

To learn more about how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and avoid harmful stereotypes, click here.

In Case You Missed It

UoI - Webinar 8: Youth Suicide Prevention and Question-Persuade-Refer

Monday, May 16th, 9pm

This is an online event.

Please register online. TLC Credit: IS (T), SEL

Click to access the BTLC Zoom Meeting Room to attend this workshop.

Presenter: Dr. Laura Gallo, Assistant Professor

Education professionals will learn an evidence-based practice (question-persuade-refer) to help recognize crises including warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. Opportunities to role-play will be provided to help education professionals feel more confident with this practice.

Educators who register for and attend all 8 sessions in the series will earn one free teacher license renewal credit! Register here for the credit.

Iowa Center for School Mental Health Page

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Baker Teacher Leader Center in advance at 319-335-5623 or

Spanish Bilingual Storytime

Monday, May 16th, 9pm

123 South Linn Street

Iowa City, IA

Monday, May 23, 2022 -10:30am to 11:00am

Storytime Room

Join us every Monday for Spanish Bilingual Storytime! Every week, there will be a fun theme with plenty of repetition from previous weeks in order to enhance language learning. Get ready for a lot of movement with singing, dancing, activities, stories, and rhymes in Spanish and English. Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome to join us.

¡Ven a la biblioteca cada lunes para el programa de cuentos bilingües en español e inglés! Cada semana, va a ver un tema divertido con muchas repeticiones de las semanas anteriores para practicar los lenguajes. Prepárate para mucho movimiento con cantos, bailes, instrumentos, actividades, cuentos y rimas en español e inglés. Los niños de todas las edades y sus cuidadores están invitados al programa.

Si necesita adaptaciones relacionadas con la discapacidad para participar en este evento, por favor avísale a la biblioteca.

现场 + 在线活动

If you need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Library.

This event is open to the public.

ICPL - Chinese Bilingual Storytime

Tuesday, May 17th, 10:30-11am

This is an online event.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 -10:30am to 11:00am

In-person event + Livestream

Storytime Room

Join us every Tuesday for a special Chinese Bilingual Storytime with Children's Librarian Fang! Together we will enjoy songs, rhymes, stories and fun crafts in Chinese and English. Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome to join us.

Masks are preferred and provided.

This program will be live broadcast on the Library Channel for attendance from home.






¡Ven a la biblioteca cada martes para disfrutar de una hora de cuentos bilingües en chino con la bibliotecaria infantil Fang! Juntos disfrutaremos de canciones, rimas y cuentos en chino e inglés. Los niños de todas las edades y sus cuidadores están invitados al programa.

Las máscaras son obligatorias para todas las personas mayores de dos años. El distanciamiento social entre los grupos en asistencia está recomendado. Para permitir el distanciamiento social, la asistencia será limitada.

Este programa será transmitido en vivo por el Canal de la Biblioteca para la asistencia desde la casa.

Si necesita adaptaciones relacionadas con la discapacidad para participar en este evento, por favor avísale a la biblioteca.

If you need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Library.

This event is open to the public.

Mental Health Awareness Month Webinar: Get Help – Reducing Stigma Associated with Mental Health

Wednesday, May 18th, 9pm

This is an online event.

This webinar will focus on reducing stigma associated with mental health and will encourage those with potential mental health issues to seek professional help. The session will concentrate on the BIPOC community, addressing stigma specific to these populations. Learn more.

Upcoming Events


Thursday, May 19th, 4pm

This is an online event.

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 4:00pm ET
Free on Zoom, Registration Required

Click Here to Register

This episode of America250’s “Community Conversation” series will celebrate Jewish American and Asian American Pacific Islanders Heritage Months. In this program we will explore American immigrant experiences from these groups, past and present challenges, as well as honor the influences that these groups had, and continue to have, on the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

The Community Conversation series is a place to connect, and to share the stories and histories that shape America. It’s with your support that we can continue to have these conversations and explore themes important to our country.

About the Panelists

Nancy Yao Maasbach – As the President of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), Nancy has the unique privilege of combining her experiences in managing organizations, promoting arts and culture as a bridge between peoples, and executing research focused on redefining the American narrative by examining the role of Chinese Americans in U.S. history. Prior to her time at MOCA, Nancy was the executive director of the Yale-China Association, one of the oldest non-profit organizations dedicated to building U.S.-China relations. At the Yale-China Association, Nancy led over 20 programs in the areas of arts, education, and health. These programs were lauded as best-in-class and models for bilateral engagement. Nancy has over twenty years of leadership experience at non-profit organizations and for-profit management, including staff and board positions at The Community Fund for Women & Girls, International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Tessitura Network, Goldman Sachs & Co, Council on Foreign Relations, CNN, and more.

Dr. Annie Polland is a public historian, author and President of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where she served as Vice President for Programs & Education from 2009 to 2017. Prior to her return to the Tenement Museum she served as Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society. She is the co-author, with Daniel Soyer, of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, and served as Vice President of Education at the Museum at Eldridge Street, where she wrote Landmark of the Spirit (Yale University).

U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her fifth term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace represents the Sixth Congressional District of New York encompassing the New York City borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens. Grace is the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State and the first female Congressmember from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

About America250

America250 is a multi-year effort to commemorate the semiquincentennial, or 250th anniversary, of the United States. The purpose of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, created by Congress, and the corresponding America250 Foundation, is to catalyze a more perfect union by designing and leading the most comprehensive and inclusive celebration in our country’s history. America250 represents a coalition of public and private partners all working to create initiatives and programs that honor our first 250 years and inspire Americans to imagine our next 250. The commemoration period began in 2020, culminates on July 4, 2026, and officially concludes in 2027.


An official program of Jewish American Heritage Month. Presented by America 250 in Partnership with JAHM and the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History.

Virtual NAMICon 2022

Tuesday, June 14th, 8am to Thursday, June 16th, 5pm

This is an online event.

NAMI is pleased to announce the first day plenary speaker for NAMICon 2022, actor, author and mental health advocate Mayim Bialik.

Mayim Hoya Bialik is best known for her award-winning portrayal of Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and as the current co-host of “Jeopardy!” She is also a champion for mental health awareness and advocacy. Bialik earned a B.S. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA where she studied obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and she’s authored multiple books, two of which reached #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Our full schedule of workshops, plenaries and special events is now available! Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to hear inspiring speakers and learn from mental health leaders and experts at the largest community gathering of mental health advocates in the U.S. NAMICon will offer more than 30 workshops dedicated to mental health research, crisis response systems, promoting equitable care and support for underserved communities, and youth-focused programming.

Click here to register.

Commemorative Observances

Commemorative Observances

This year we will acknowledge the various diverse cultures that are celebrated throughout the year. We understand that our calendar may not be all-inclusive, so if you are aware of any cultural holidays or months of observance that we should know about, feel free to reach out and let us know.

African American History Month (February)
National African American History Month in February celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation's history.

Women's History Month (March)
Women’s History Month honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States.

Irish-American Heritage Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions which Irish-Americans have made to the United States.

Jewish American Heritage Month (May)
Jewish American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions Jewish Americans have made to America since they first arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May)

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions Asian/Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month (June)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month commemorates the events of June 1969 and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for LGBTQ Americans.

National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15)

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture and honors five of our Central American neighbors who celebrate their Independence days in September.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the accomplishments in the workplace of persons with disabilities and reaffirms the commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunities to all citizens.

American Indian Heritage Month (November)
National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States.

By Month

Happy Holidays!

We'd love to give a big shout-out to all the holidays happening in May! If you celebrate any of these, we hope that you have an amazing day for yourself and your families!

  • Beltane - Sunday, May 1st
  • Eid-al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) - Monday, May 2nd
  • Twelfth Day of Riḍván - Monday, May 2nd
  • Yom HaZikaron - Tuesday, May 3rd
  • Akshaya Tritiya - Tuesday, May 3rd
  • Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Tuesday, May 3rd
  • Ghambar Maidyozarem ends - Wednesday, May 4th
  • Yom HaAtzma'ut - Thursday, May 5th
  • Vesak (Budha Day) - Friday, May 6th
  • Buddha's birth - Sunday, May 8th
  • Yom Yerushalayim - Monday, May 10th
  • Second Passover - Sunday, May 14th - Monday, May 15th
  • Lag BaOmer - Thursday, May 19th
  • Declaration of the Báb - Tuesday, May 24th
  • Ascension of Jesus - Thursday, May 26th
  • Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh - Sunday, May 29th
  • Yom Yerushalayim - Saturday, May 29th
  • Laylat al Qadr - Friday, May 29th
  • Savitri Pooja - Monday, May 30th
  • Hopi Kachina Dances

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 Eric Howard, Director of Equity & Employee Relations