From the Field

Principal, September/October 2020. Volume 100, Number 1.

Question: How do you plan to keep the conversation on achieving racial equity going throughout the school year?

Start studying. We live in a rural, mostly white community, and this conversation is just as important here as anywhere! We will be doing a book study and ensure that our language and actions reflect love and justice for all.

—Janel Scurlock (@janelscurlock), assistant principal, Pinedale Elementary School, Wyoming

Celebrate differences. We embrace each individual student and celebrate the many differences they embody. Each of us should be identified by more than our race, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation. We strive to build real, meaningful relationships on an individual level. When you truly know someone and walk alongside them through struggles and triumphs, then—and only then—can you understand their differences.

—Scott Borba (@lgesupt), superintendent and principal of Le Grand Union Elementary School District, California

Celebrate differences. We embrace each individual student and celebrate the many differences they embody. Each of us should be identified by more than our race, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation. We strive to build real, meaningful relationships on an individual level. When you truly know someone and walk alongside them through struggles and triumphs, then—and only then—can you understand their differences.

—Scott Borba (@lgesupt), superintendent and principal of Le Grand Union Elementary School District, California

Display diversity. We have spent the past few years building our library to provide books [reflecting] all ethnic backgrounds and cultures, and we plan on continuing this effort. We also plan to bring in public figures of all nationalities to be guest speakers throughout the school year and hope this encourages purposeful writing and reading to promote racial equality.

—Christal Calhoun, principal, Tool Elementary School, Texas

Involve students. I will be developing a student team to discuss equity, inclusion, and [having] critical conversations surrounding race. We will also be embedding lessons on social justice and racial equity in our social-emotional learning curriculum. The faculty will explore the effects of implicit bias from the perspective of race, as well as gender, sexuality, and disability bias.

—Dave Steckler, principal, Red Trail Elementary School, North Dakota

Hear from an expert. We began the year with a speaker who will help us with equity and self-examination. After that, we will develop site improvement goals and strategies.

—Cathey Bugg (@herotheeagle), principal, Heritage Elementary School, Oklahoma

Embed equity. Like SEL, it has to be embedded in all that we do—not isolated to a month, a big event, or a theme/unit of study. Our students are ready to talk about it; the focus has to be on supporting staff in building capacity to “lean into” these conversations. We’re working with a consultant and building PD around that skill set, embracing tough conversations to enact action within our building and among students and staff.

—Jessica Hutchison (@jesshutchisonAW), principal, Avoca West, Ill.

Model inclusion. Model and encourage the building of relationships with all students, encourage teacher use of inclusive activities in the curriculum, and encourage the use of texts featuring characters that show a wide range of diverse experiences.

—Kristal Pollard (@PhDiva18), assistant
principal, Madison County School District, Mississippi

Practice the conversation. We need to give staff members resources and practice with these conversations, so they can in turn have these conversations with students. We also need to make sure people of color are included in stakeholder groups, so the POC voice is included in our work.

—Shanna Spickard (@sspickard), principal, Milan Area Schools, Michigan

Make a reading list. I have also been compiling an extensive list of books with diverse characters to share with staff and students, read aloud, and add to classroom libraries. We will need to have more open, honest conversations this year.

—Liz Garden (@PrincipalGarden), principal, Mayo School, Massachusetts

Take a trip. We kicked off the 2019–2020 school year with a staff trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. We continued the conversation throughout the school year, and we will continue to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the coming school year. Further staff training will focus on current events; we will dig deep to get to know each other more, learn how to help our students, and provide daily instruction through the lens of diversity and cultural respect.

—Edward Cosentino (@PrincipalECos), principal, Clemens Crossing Elementary School, Maryland

Take up the task. Over the summer, I formed a task force comprised of interested staff and parents of color to share perspectives on race and equity at our school. We will meet to continue this conversation and develop action plans to help guide professional development and conversations with staff and families in the upcoming year.

—Andrew Buchheit (@AndrewBuchheit), principal, T. Clay Wood Elementary School, Virginia

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