Equity remains a top district priority

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Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the district’s commitment to ensuring equity for all students has never wavered.

Our Director of Equity and Achievement, Debbie Carlman, recently spoke to the School Board about her department’s progress and plans for the future.

Carlman focused on the district’s equity teams and how they’ve grown and evolved in the two years since they were formed. The teams, which include 5–9 staff members from each school, meet monthly to analyze data, identify problems and look for ways to view every aspect of their jobs through an “equity lens.”

“Each equity team is a reflection of each school, which is the beauty of this,” Carlman said. “What’s applicable for one school is not necessarily going to work for another school.”

Recently-retired Frederickson Elementary School Principal Ellen Eddy was impressed with the way her school’s equity team focused on areas where they could make immediate improvements. She spoke about the power of seemingly small acts, such as bringing in new library books that feature characters of color.

“We had a kindergartener who loved one of the books she was reading. We asked why she liked it so much, and she said, ‘Because there’s someone in it who looks like me, and we don’t have very many people at this school who look like me,’” Eddy said.

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Another exciting development last year was the introduction of two district equity specialists. Among a host of other duties, Darius Alexander and Will Waverly were tasked with mediating conflicts, practicing restorative justice, and acting as conduits between students, teachers and administrators.

“How do we bring students to the table? How do we make sure they feel like they’re part of their school community?” Alexander said of his work this year. “When they’re connected, studies show they’ll be more likely to trust their teachers and admin staff and succeed in the classroom.”

As her team prepares for the coming school year, Carlman said she is working on more equity training for students and staff, as well as building on the progress the equity teams have made.

“Our goal, as is stated in the Strategic Plan, is to continue in a very intentional way to build teacher leaders — an effective teacher for every student and an effective leader for every school,” Carlman said.

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Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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