PSUSD Equity Community Conference

Putting Equity Into Action

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Register Here for the Virtual Conference

All sessions will be held via zoom. You will be sent an email with more information to follow.

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"To get further away from where I’ve been”: Equity Principles for Understanding Youth in Poverty

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Abdul-Malik Muhammad, President and Founding Team Leader, Akoben LLC, has over 25 years serving both youth and adults as an educator, transformational leader, entrepreneur and author. Always working with the underserved in urban and rural areas, he has focused on the development of boys to men, establishing a pedagogy for oppressed youth, and building progressive organizations. He is currently the founder and CEO of several educational, mental health, and human services operations, including Akoben LLC and Transforming Lives Inc. Through this work, he is continuing to diligently “transform lives, one community at a time.” His first book, released in March 2019, entitled The Restorative Journey – Book One: The Theory and Application of Restorative Practices, inspires us to think and act differently in leadership, relationships and service to others.

He has a BA in International Affairs from Franklin & Marshall College, an MA in Educational Leadership from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware. He lives in Delaware with his wife, children and father.


After the keynote, Session 1 will be available:

“Diving Deeper – Equity, Trauma and Practices for Serving Youth in Poverty”

Session Information: In this session we will go beyond the principles of understanding youth in poverty and identify 4 essential practices to serve them well. We will make explicit connections to how equity and trauma informed work intersects with these practices.

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Presenter's Bio:


Lex Ortega (they) is a Mexican-American queer, first-generation Palm Springs resident, working with and in the intersections of local communities of color, queer and trans folks, and young people. Apart from their day job at The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, Lex currently serves as Secretary on La Mesa for Alianza Coachella Valley and the Leadership Team for the Coachella-Valley based intersectional feminist collective Wyld Womxn.


Session Information:


Participants will cultivate and deepen their practice of allyship, particularly for LGBTQ+ students of color, by learning about historical and current indigenous cultural realities for people we might identify as LGBTQ+ or two-spirit in the United States. Using these alternative cultural frameworks, we will discuss how our current notions of gender and sexual orientation are expanding beyond the traditional rainbow and binaries we might know. Learning objective: Participants will learn about cultural indigenous practices (current and historical) that go beyond the traditional binaries we are familiar with. Participants will use this knowledge to strengthen their support of LGBTQ+ students of color in schools.

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Are MicroAggressions really small? Can a joke be funny to some and hurtful to others? Can a compliment be an insult? What are the repercussions for students?


Presenters' Bios:


Vera Johnson, born and raised in Palm Springs, CA. Attended Katherine Finchy, Raymond Cree, and Palm Springs High School. Received my Bachelor of Arts from the University of Redlands, and my Master of Arts Degree from Chapman university. She has worked in the district for 26 years and is currently the Dean of Students at Desert Hot Springs High School and AVID Coordinator.


Sue Drummond, born and raised in Chicago Il. Went to C.O.D., Cal State San Bernardino, University of Redlands and National University. She has a Bachelor of Arts and two Masters of Arts Degrees. Worked in the district for 16 years and is currently an Assistant Principal at Desert Springs Middle School.


Session Information:


We will explore microaggressions and how they affect student morale and performance. Through activities and resources, we will combat these seemingly harmless statements and actions that can have a long term effect on the psyche of students and their academic performance.

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Presenter's Bio:


Jarvis Lamar Williams is an inspirational speaker, educator, youth advocate, Husband and Father. He loves to create and build with purpose in all aspects of his professional and personal life. A former Men’s Counselor of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Jarvis is an ordained Elder with the Church of God in Chris and is the Program Director for Building Resilience in African American Families Boys Rites of Passage Program. Jarvis has dedicated his life to inspiring youth throughout the Coachella Valley whenever or wherever he has the opportunity. Jarvis is committed to helping youth pursue their purpose and live in their full potential, obtain long-term goals, success, and persevere beyond adversity in order to create opportunities in their personal, professional and spiritual lives.

Advocating on behalf of African American children who are at greatest risk for educational system-based discrimination and/or academic failure due to poverty, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, foster care placement and the criminal justice systems is what he is most passionate about. Jarvis’s philosophy and approach to life is best described by the African proverb “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”.



Session Information:


Defining Black Masculinity: Dispelling the myth, and taking control of the narrative.

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Presenters' Bios:


Joi Cox has been a teacher for over 24 years. The last 10 years have been spent at the Palm Springs Unified School District. Throughout her teaching career, Joi Cox has always encouraged students to examine history, language and arts through the different perspectives people have. She believes that understanding the perspectives of others is key to understanding our fellow man.


Dawn Cox is currently working as an eighth grade Social Science teacher in the Los Angeles area. She has taught in her district for twenty years. She believes in promoting diversity and the perspective of others, She is working with UCLA as the coordinator of the Mesopotamian Project. It is a pen pal /cultural exchange between students in the United States and other students around the world.


Session Information:


We will discuss the various forms in which colorism can manifest and is promoted from a cultural standpoint. Is colorism positive or negative? Let's talk about it. Parents will be able to do the following.

1. Define colorism. 2.Understand the negative effects of it. 3.Utilize strategies to do away with colorism.

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Presenters' Bios:


Stephanie Magnera is a school counselor at Cabot Yerxa Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs.


Paula Henry is a school counselor at Sunny Sands Elementary School in Cathedral City.


LaShonda Tillman is a school counselor at Katherine Finchy Elementary School in Palm Springs.


Haydee Ramirez is a school counselor at Bubbling Wells Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs.


Session Information:


In our session, we will be discussing Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning strategies that families can use to enhance their own self-care practices and that they can also teach their children. The strategies we will be covering with you are the same ones we teach our students. We hope you walk away with mindfulness tools to help you in moments where you feel overwhelmed, stressed and unfocused. It's so important to make sure to take care of ourselves so that we are better able to take care of others. Please join us for a relaxing session full of things you can start using today.

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Presenter's Bio:


Tanisha Taylor is a valuable asset in PSUSD and is always working to promote equitable practices. She has been instrumental in coordinating the implementation of PBIS systems in PSUSD, and is providing staff training regarding Bias and Restorative Practices.


Session Information:


As a result of participating in the session, participants will:

o Reflect on how restorative practices may support in building and strengthening relationships

o Repairing harm committed in relationships

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Presenter's Bio:


Mrs. Alaniz is a member of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. She is currently teaching 2nd grade at Agua Caliente Elementary School. This is her twelfth year of teaching, eighth in Palm Springs. She is a member of PSUSD's Anti Racism Coalition, a Human Rights Cadre trainer for CTA, and has been coached in Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning by Dr. Sharroky Hollie.


Dr. Nicole Crawford has been in the field of education for 15 years, starting as a classroom high school teacher in Los Angeles, to becoming the Coordinator of Diversity and Racial Equity for Palm Springs Unified. She is excited to advocate for equity on behalf of our historically marginalized students.


Session Information:


In this workshop we will discuss the need for cultural awareness for Native American, Alaskan Native, and Indigenous youth in our schools. You will also learn about the land and culture of the Cahuilla Indians as we share information about the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza and our district's Native American Advisory Council.

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Presenter's Bio:


Dr. Alejandro Cisneros taught middle school mathematics and language arts for seven years before leading the family engagement efforts of the Alvord Unified School District. His academic research focuses on family engagement of Latinx families in middle schools, interrogating both academic engagement and school efforts to form partnerships with Latinx families. Informed by his experiences as an immigrant, English learner student, a father to a high school student, and an educator, Dr. Cisneros endeavors to tap into existing family leadership that is traditionally excluded by schools.

Session Information:


Session Description:


This dialogue will support parent understanding of how they can provide educational leadership at home, will explain student benefits enjoyed when schools and families form partnerships, and will differentiate between different school committees that parents can participate in. Ultimately, this session seeks to encourage families to step into their power as leaders in support of success for all students.


This session will be presented in Spanish only.

PSUSD Family and Community Engagement

Family Center staff is available to help with your questions and concerns! Contact the Family Center ph: 760) 416-1374 e: familycenter@psusd.us.

View our upcoming events and calendar on our website at familycenter.psusd.us.

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