PEACE Members

FPS e-Newsletter

- Parent Equity and Advisory Committee for Education -

PEACE Overview

Fargo Public School (FPS) has chosen all members of the Parent Equity and Advisory Committee for Education (PEACE). This committee will advise the District on efforts related to equity and inclusion. Recently, FPS solicited applications from various members of the school system and community.

Total PEACE membership will consist of:

  • (4) parents of students currently attending Fargo Public Schools
  • (1) High school student representative
  • (1) Community member
  • (1) Director of Equity and Inclusion
  • (1) Non-teaching school staff, selected by non-teaching school staff
  • (2) Teachers, selected by Fargo Public Schools teachers
  • (2) School principals, one from each level (elementary and secondary)

Inaugural Meeting and Work Plan

The inaugural meeting for PEACE will be Monday, April 12 from 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. This meeting is open to the public and can be viewed via this Zoom link. PEACE members will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and describe their interest in PEACE. Next, the by-laws will be reviewed in depth, and the elections of officers will be discussed. The election of officers is planned for the May meeting, allowing PEACE members time to consider the roles of offices and express interest.

- Parent Members -

Crystal Cossette Knight

Student Location: South High School Feeder System

Why I believe this work is important: I I am passionate about ALL children feeling loved for who they are. There is much work to be done in our community to help BIPOC children (and

LGBTQ+ children) feel safe and accepted. I would be honored to serve on PEACE and help make a difference.

Janet Dumas

Student Location: North High School Feeder System

Why I believe this work is important: I am raising grandchildren that are Native American, African American, Caucasian race. Other grandchildren also are Hispanic. I believe I understand the discrimination and lack of education and/or help received due to ADHD and comprehension issues which lead to dropping out of school. I see this happening among many children not receiving help early on in childhood. Even though I am Caucasian, I see several issues among my children and now grandchildren. I've watched drugs take over young teens.

Kelsey Gordon

Student Location: Davies High School Feeder System

Why I believe this work is important: I believe in unleashing the power of human potential and creating cultures of belonging where everyone can thrive.

Sophia Yohannes-Smadi

Student Location: Davies High School Feeder System

Why I believe this work is important: I know teachers have a lot on their plates and they want to create fun activities for their students, but more thought has to be put into how ALL of the students will be affected. I can think of a few examples. "Crazy Hair Day," for instance, sounds like a lot of fun, but it can be problematic for students with textured hair, students with disabilities, and it excludes students who wear religious head coverings... Some of these seemingly "normal" activities can actually be harmful to students.

- Student Member -

Kha (Andy) Tao

Location: Davies High School

Why I believe this work is important: Inequities and unjustifiable behaviors have been occurring more than long enough in our communities and schools. I believe PEACE is a step into the right direction to bring justice for students and youth who have been silenced. I want to be the voice for students / youth who feel marginalized and unheard. Before I leave FPS, I strive to create an environment for every student to feel accepted and included, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.

- Community Member -

Peterson Olivier

Why I believe this work is important: In the PEACE program, I would like to focus on the challenges faced by black and people of color in the school system like graduation rates, success in FPS, college readiness, disciplinary actions, and bullying.

- Support Staff Member -

Ebony Sampson

Location: Woodrow Wilson High School

Why I believe this work is important: Equity is an important issue amongst students in the Fargo school district because it sets the stage for the future world around them. If student do not possess an expectation of equity, then the expectation for excellence declines. They will enter the world with a mindset of inferiority and condemnation, which in return hinders the growth of a better more accepting society beyond the classroom. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY , in comparison to my children’s upbringing in Fargo, ND, were quite different, but I do feel that my education was more enriched than theirs. I was able to receive a level of representation and focus on inclusion for students of color that simply does not apply here. My community was a melting pot of many cultures, religions, and ethnicities, but they were celebrated as contributing factors to bring us closer together; to share a mutual experience and gain understanding of one another. The Fargo experience, although more wholesome (less crime and violence) in environment, is just as hazardous to a student of color because they are less likely feel that inclusiveness from outside their intimate communities. They do not able to have the same level of advocacy from individuals that look like them or empathize with their predisposition to inadequacies found in the America. Equity is more than fairness, but it is a step in showing that they are accounted for in history… beyond slavery, boarding schools, and immigration. It means that they are contributors and assets to the history and future of our country. Equity drives success and motivates students to see themselves through a lens of nurture and not simply tolerance.

- Teacher Members -

Susan Clark

Location: Ed Clapp Elementary School

Why I believe this work is important: Equity will always an important issue to be addressed in our schools and our larger communities as long as inequity exists. Schools play an important part in being a vehicle that works to recognize instances of inequity, work to understand and learn more about why such inequity exists, and strive to educate others in order to build awareness and bring about solutions.

Jacob Knodel

Location: Discovery Middle School

Why I believe this work is important: In Fargo, we are very fortunate in that we belong to a growing diverse community with a wide variety of valuable resources and opportunities for its members. In recent years, the rapid rate of growth in our community seems to have outpaced our establishment of systems to ensure equity for all of our members. Equity is about individuals getting what they need in order to access or experience the resources and opportunities available in a manner consistent with those around them. If our goals as a community is to establish greater equity, then we must begin with our students. There are few if any institutions that have more potential for supporting, ensuring, and generating equity than our public schools. To meet this potential, however; requires the intentional implementation of systems, standards, and practices that foster and ensure those same standards of equity we desire in our larger community. When effective measures for establishing equity are put in place in our schools not only do current students and future generations benefit from whole new worlds of opportunity, but the community benefits from a citizenry that is equipped to uphold, sustain, and bring new and valuable perspectives to those assets that make it so valuable

- Administrative Members -

Liann Hanson

Location: Centennial Elementary School

Why I believe this work is important: The responsibilities of the PEACE group are formidable in light of all that faces public education and our society. I view the PEACE group as an opportunity to work together as a school district and community to build upon our successes and to make change for equity and inclusion.

Shannon Mortrud

Location: South High School

Why I believe this work is important: PEACE is important because equity/inclusion should be a non-negotiable in any school system. As public school employees (support staff, teachers, administration, transportation, etc.) it is our responsibility to provide all students with the necessary experiences, resources and curriculum needed to disrupt opportunity and achievement gaps. Personally, I feel that this work requires the additional voices of students and community members to bring a broad perspective to decisions that are made in our district. I see this as an opportunity for students, parents and educators to learn from one another in order to create a unified educational system that is truly representative of the community it serves. This will require communication and effort with the goal in mind that opportunities and achievement will increase for marginalized students, in turn increasing their opportunities and expectations once they leave the public school system.

- Director of Equity and Inclusion -

Dr. Tamara Uselman

Location: District Office

Why I believe this work is important: More than 50 parents, a dozen students, and many staff members applied to be on PEACE. I believe that is because there is great interest in ensuring our students experience equitable and just schooling. PEACE is built on a triad of students, parents, and school personnel and serves as an important advisory committee on equity and inclusion topics for Fargo Public Schools. Each school feeder (North, South, Davies, and Woodrow / Dakota) are represented on the PEACE either by students, parents, and / or staff. Support staff elected Ebony Sampson (Woodrow / Dakota), teachers elected Susan Clark and Jacob Knodel, students elected Andy Tao, and the Teaching and Learning team selected parents and the community member for the first PEACE committee.

Fargo Public Schools

This newsletter is published weekly on Thursdays during the school year when classes are in session. Material for publication is due by Noon on Tuesday of the week of desired publication.