Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Mid-Year DEI Committee Update - February 2021

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Welcome to the first edition of our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Newsletter! As it is the first day of February, Black History Month, it is appropriate that we launch this newsletter today.

Our District's goal is to ensure a welcoming environment where all feel they belong. Our Board of Directors passed a resolution in July of 2020 supporting an anti-racist school climate. Our Superintendent, Dr. Tom Ralston, has shared his statement on Creating a Place of Belonging for All. Our Administration has provided a statement supporting providing an inclusive school climate. All of these statements can be accessed on our website by clicking HERE.

During the creation of the District's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion was identified as a focus area. More information about the strategic plan is provided later in this newsletter. Our District has an active Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Committee dedicated to supporting the goals of our strategic plan and our District's efforts to create a place of belonging for all.

This newsletter will be sent periodically to provide our school community with an update on the DEI Committee and our District's efforts concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. This newsletter will also share resources, information about events in our District and region and celebrate/showcase students, staff, and achievements related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Avonworth School District Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Webpages

Please use this link to access our school district's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion webpages!

ASD DEI Webpages

DEI Committee Update

Our first Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Meeting was held in September. This meeting was open to anyone in our school community that wanted to attend and approximately 70 individuals attended. During this meeting, we provided a historical perspective on how our District's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee was founded, contributions the committee has made and shared how we plan to move forward.

Following this meeting, those who registered to attend were sent a survey to determine who would be willing to be part of a smaller DEI Working Committee. Moving forward, our goal was to create a smaller group that would meet more often and create actions that support our District's efforts in the area of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and also that support the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion goals in our Districts 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Since September, our smaller working committee of approximately 30 individuals has met several times. We identified key areas to develop action plans for that will also support some of our District's strategic plan's objectives.

The top four areas identified by the working committee were courageous conversations, support for students of color, developing a speaker series, and also developing an opportunity for members of our school community to engage in a series that may use books, TED Talks, podcasts, etc. as a jumping-off point for discussion.

Please use this link to access a slide deck that provides an overview of our DEI Committee for the 2020-2021 school year. Link to Slidedeck

DEI Committee Mission, Purpose, Beliefs

During our first DEI Working Committee meetings of the 2020-2021 school year, the group collaborated to develop a mission statement and purpose statement. From the input provided by the group, a set of belief statements were also created.

Please use this link to access our DEI Working Committee Mission, Purpose, and Belief Statements.

Upcoming Events

Our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee aims to bring events to our school community related to all areas of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. The events we bring to our school community will encourage learning and engaging in productive discourse. We strive to promote awareness and appreciation for each other as we learn from each other. By learning together and each other, we strive to foster a school community that understands and appreciates each other and where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

In this goal's spirit, we are very excited to announce the first speaker we will be bringing to our school community. We are in discussions with Candi Castleberry Singleton, who has given us a verbal commitment to do a speaking engagement for our school community sometime in the next couple of months. Candi is currently the Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity at Twitter. She is also the founder of the award-winning Dignity & Respect Campaign and is the former Chief Inclusion Officer at UPMC.

Given the pandemic, we are taking advantage of the virtual platform we have become accustomed to as Candi lives in California. We will continue to plan the logistics of this event and communicate the details with our school community as soon as we have them worked out.

We hope that we will see you and your children join us for the conversation with Candi!

DEI Resource Center

In each DEI Newsletter, we will share resources that you may find helpful. Our goal in sharing these resources is to provide our school community with access to resources that provide information about diversity, equity, and inclusion that will help us learn and grow. We desire to help us grow together as one school community that recognizes and appreciates our differences as we believe it is our greatest strength.

Black History Month:

Black History Month's origins can be traced back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans. In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared February as Black History Month. President Ford asked the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

This year's Black History Month theme is "Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity."

Black History Month Resources:

If you are looking for books to read with your children during Black History Month, use the following link to access a list of 12 children's books. These books include important insights into Black history, culture, accomplishments, notable people, historical and current-day injustice, and how injustice was and continues to be confronted and overcome. Following the description of each book is a link to discussion guides. Clicking on this link will take you to a link to access a parent/family discussion guide.

12 Exceptional Kid Lit Books to Read for Black History Month

During Black History Month, we encourage you to learn more about black history in Pittsburgh and how our region has been impacted by African Americans' achievements and influence over the last 200 years.

Pittsburgh Celebrates Black History Month

Pittsburgh's Black History Comes Into Focus

General DEI Resources:

1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide

Cookies and Life Lessons from Cookie Activist Jasmine Cho

Project FUEL Teams with Kidsburgh to Present 10 Life Lessons to the Global Community

Avonworth School District Strategic Plan: 2020-2025

During the 2019-2020 school year, a group of approximately 50 members of our school community collaborated to develop the District's next strategic plan. Five focus areas were identified for inclusion in the 2020-2025 strategic plan. One of the focus areas is Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Use the following link to access a one-page overview of the strategies and actions created during the strategic planning process in the area of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion - Strategic Plan

Access the full strategic plan document HERE.

Student Recognition

We are thrilled to recognize Avonworth High School student Chintha Katherisan who was chosen to participate in I Look Like a Cardiologist, which aims to close gender and racial gaps in medicine.

Chintha stated the following regarding her participation in I Look Like a Cardiologist.

"I am most eager to learn from my assigned mentor and other physicians about the journey it takes to become a cardiologist or any medical profession for that matter. I am excited to learn the basics of cardiology, work through case studies, and make meaningful connections with the professionals I encounter. Since I am very interested in medicine and have been since I was little, I think this program will provide me with more knowledge surrounding the healthcare field and allow me to make connections with my mentor that will help me as I pursue medicine."

Learn more about the I Look Like a Cardiologist program by clicking on the following link.

I Look Like a Cardiologist

Community Input

As a committee, we welcome input from our school community. We want your input regarding the initiatives we have identified, thoughts and ideas you have, and any other input you would like to provide. Therefore, each DEI Newsletter will provide a link to a Google Form that can be used to provide input on anything you would like. Your input can be anonymous, or you can provide us with your contact information. Use the following link to access a Google Form to provide your input if you wish to share anything with us.

DEI Input Google Form