Office of DIEB Monthly Newsletter

Centering Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging

Welcome to our October 2021 Newsletter

Moving the needle:

Opportunities & Insights from the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging...

“Be Heard—We’re Listening”

WTPS Staff and Community Sessions on Issues Related to

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging


Throughout September and October, the Office of DIEB will continue to host a series of “Staff & Community Listening & Learning Tour Forums” sessions. These sessions are intended to provide our WTPS staff and community partners with an opportunity to share their thoughts on DIEB. During each session we will be guided by six questions:


  • What does an increasingly diverse school district environment that is welcoming, and inclusive look like?

  • What do you see as the most challenging aspects of supporting an increasingly diverse community?

  • What kinds of leadership efforts would represent a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging?

  • What resources and supports are you aware of that support DIEB within the district and community?

  • What do we need to do? Provide? Support?

  • What are your hopes for the new DIEB office? What are your concerns?


The Office of DIEB understands that words alone cannot develop our plan. Rather, specific and widespread actions will lead to our strategic plan that interweaves the essential voices from our WTPS students, staff, families, and community partners. From these discussions, we will plan thoughtful actions and district-wide accountability. As a result, our DIEB strategic plan will serve as our public commitment to the students, staff, and community partners towards our progress.



Date: October 13th

Location: WTHS IMC

Time: 5pm-6pm

Type: Face to face


RSVP by October 11th to kannucci@wtps.org



Date: October 14th

Location: https://rowan.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcoce6qpzMvHN1KEw5Bez_4jtvNbLtoUVSi

Time: 4:30 pm -5:30 pm

Type: Virtual



Date: October 19th

Location: WTHS IMC

Time: 5pm -6pm

Type: Face to Face


RSVP by October 18th to kannucci@wtps.org


Date: October 21st

Location:

https://rowan.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcoce6qpzMvHN1KEw5Bez_4jtvNbLtoUVSi

Time: 4:30 pm -5:30 pm

Type: Virtual



Date: October 26th

Location: WTHS IMC

Time: 5pm-6pm

Type: Face to Face


RSVP by October 25th to kannucci@wtps.org


Date: October 28th

Location: https://rowan.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcoce6qpzMvHN1KEw5Bez_4jtvNbLtoUVSi

Time: 4:30 pm -5:30 pm

Type: Virtual



*To complement our live listening and learning sessions, an additional opportunity for individuals to share their thoughts via a DIEB feedback form is available. The survey will be available until Sunday, November 15th. (Click the link below)

DIEB Listening & Learning Tour - Survey

Can't find the time to join the "WTPS DIEB Listening and Learning " Forum? Be Heard—We’re Listening! Complete, the WTPS DIEB Listening and Learning Tour survey.

WTPS Celebrates Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month


Did you know that Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month is a National Holiday that centers and honors the history, culture, influence, achievements, and contributions of U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities, particularly their contribution to American society at large? The term “Latinx” refers to people of Latin American origin or descent and is used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina.

Latinx Heritage Month currently spans from September 15th to October 15th; however, originally it began as a commemorative week when it was first introduced by California Congressman George E. Brown in June 1968. This timing is important because the move came as a part of the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s. Additionally, “mid-September was chosen because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period.”

In celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month, WTPS will be spotlighting the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to our country’s history and culture through projects, features, and classroom lessons.



Additional Sources

National Hispanic Heritage Month
History.com: Hispanic Heritage Month
The American Presidency Project

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DIEB Spotlight: Equity in Action

Julie Kozempel - WTPS Board President


Short Bio:


Julie Kozempel is the president of the Washington Township Board of Education and has served Washington Township on the BOE for six years. She is a full-time, tenured faculty member at Camden County College and celebrates her 20th year of teaching Communications and English in higher education this year. Julie's proudest accomplishments are her three children: 16-year-old Erin Yankanich (WTHS), 13-year-old Steven Yankanich (CRMS), and 11-year-old Kevin Yankanich (Wedgwood). She is a 1995 graduate of WTHS and has lived in Washington Township since 1986.


How does your work advance Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging within the WTPS community?


Change comes from the top, and the Board sets policy, approves the budget, and hires the Superintendent. We cannot, and do not, micro-manage the district. What we like to do is set board goals and district goals, and equity work has been a part of those goals for many years. I think now, more than ever, we need to support our kids and combat some of the divisive rhetoric they hear in the media. We are a public school system, and what many people may not know, is that publicly funded schools are, in and of themselves, and equity initiatives. When this country was formed, education was not freely provided to all our citizens, and not all our citizens were free. So, we feel that our mission as a public school district is to continue to provide high-quality education to all children, and in doing that, we need to recognize that children come from a variety of backgrounds and some need help meeting the myriad challenges they face daily.



Provide an example of how you lead with an equity lens?


Equity is not a zero-sum game. Very often, equity gets a "bad rep" because people feel that if one person is being provided support or accommodation, that means something is being taken away from another child. When we make decisions about how to be inclusive and supportive, we understand the importance of communicating out how an initiative benefits the entire community. For example, we recently were granted additional state funding to offer free preschool to our residents. Right now, we have a lottery system for 84 students but each year this program will grow as we acquire more space for more classrooms. Now, people like me could sit there and say, "I didn't have free preschool when my kids were young...this isn't fair to me," but, the fact is, when we offer free, full-day, play-based PreK to children not only do those children get a better start to their academic career while the family enjoys a much-needed reduction in childcare costs but there is also the added community benefit of attracting new homeowners to our town. People move to Washington Township for the school system. They moved here for free, full-day kindergarten when we started to offer it. And now they will move here for free, full-day pre-K. When you live in a "graying community," offering benefits such as these to young families saves us all tax money because we widen the tax base, and our property values go up.


What should the WTPS community know about DIEB when educating students?


Being inclusive and helping students to feel they belong is not indoctrination. These are soft skills they need to succeed in any career they choose. The world is changing, and people are becoming more and more aware of the things they say and how they could be detrimental to a better school or work environment. These are life skills we are reinforcing in children: kindness, acceptance, community, and inclusivity. But the real work needs to come from home and from the children's families. That is why it is so important for us to have families and community members involved in what we are doing.

Sign-up for our DIEB Remind Messages

One of the easiest ways to join the Office of DIEB Remind is by texting @wtpsbelong to 81010.

The Office of DIEB

WTPS is a public school district with realities that are composed of various experiences, motivations, and identities that should be celebrated daily. The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging (DIEB) will assist with identifying interconnecting opportunities that support the WTPS community and promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging by developing and sustaining meaningful and collaborative relationships. These collaborations will result in creating a more diverse and inclusive community and centering the voices of our community to drive District-wide, culturally sustaining initiatives and equitable opportunities.