At Maplewood, we take microagressions very seriously. Please report any issues to our counselor using this form for immediate support. Thank you for your help in making Maplewood an inclusive, positive environment for every student and their family.
Nurturing Equity: A Journey of Learning and Growth at Maplewood School
Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our mission at Maplewood School, and our commitment to equity runs deep. Over the past few years, we've embarked on a transformative journey towards a more inclusive and equitable educational environment. Here are the highlights of our journey from 2021 through today.
2021-2022: Laying the Foundation
In the 2021-2022 school year, our journey began with a strong emphasis on professional development and self-reflection. Our teachers engaged in meaningful learning sessions on equity and racism, both from the district and within our own staff meetings. It was a time for us to understand the power of our own identities and how they shape our perceptions, responses, and even our biases.
Fall: Maplewood Reads became our vehicle for exploring different cultures. We carefully selected books that opened windows to diverse worlds. Every classroom read a designated book each month, fostering discussions and creative projects. These culminated in monthly assemblies where students showcased their insights, from class poems to dramatic reenactments.
Additionally, we collaborated with Amy Chotzen from the PPS Restorative Justice department. Together, we developed professional development programs for our dedicated teachers during staff meetings.
Winter: As part of our ongoing commitment to equity, we reached out to our school community. Building bridges of understanding, we worked closely with the PTA president, Jackie Haddon. We believed that to truly serve our diverse families, especially those historically underserved, we needed to hear their voices and stories.
Jackie introduced us to Tenesia Taylor, an advocate who runs affinity groups worldwide. These conversations brought forth the importance of equity within our school environment.
Spring: In response to the needs of our community, we initiated a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) listening session. The goal was simple: to listen and learn. Despite our best efforts, the turnout was modest. However, we continued to seek feedback through equity surveys for both parents and students.
We discovered that racially charged microaggressions were taking place at Maplewood and weren't adequately addressed. Using the insights from these surveys and listening sessions, we set our sights on the next school year with a renewed sense of purpose.
2022-2023: The Equity Journey Continues
Our commitment to equity remained unwavering in the 2022-2023 school year. We kept our focus on professional development, ensuring our teachers continued to receive training on equity and racism from the district and in our staff meetings. Principals also received vital training on equity and strategies for interrupting racism in schools. In addition, I joined a white affinity group with other leaders in PPS.
Fall: Microaggressions took center stage in our Maplewood Reads program, prompting deep discussions and reflections. During the teacher preservice in August, we invited Amy Chotzen from the Restorative Justice department to educate our staff about microaggressions. Amy's presentations were instrumental in equipping us with the knowledge and tools to identify and address these subtle yet harmful behaviors.
Amy also prepared slideshows and activities for teachers to share with students, helping them understand and respond to microaggressions (K-2 presentation, 3-5 presentation). We also collaborated with local author Trudy Ludwig, whose engaging assemblies empowered our students to become upstanders. Our Maplewood Equity team also led some professional development at a staff meeting.
Winter: Despite some initial challenges, we continued to engage our school community. A second BIPOC listening session was held in December, and we launched a series of community events, starting with a vibrant Muslim family night featuring Middle Eastern food and music. The turnout exceeded our expectations.
Our PTA played a crucial role in community building by organizing a "Brinner" event that drew a record crowd. We learned that when we make events appealing to children and offer free food, more families, even those who don't typically participate, join in.
The Maplewood Equity team also continued its important work, sharing a Lunar New Year slideshow and promoting activities for Black History Month. Uzma Toosey, our PTA DEI coordinator, played a pivotal role in expanding our equity initiatives.
Spring: The Maplewood Equity team took the lead on another important initiative: diversifying classroom libraries. Each classroom received funding to update their books with characters of color, ensuring that all students could see themselves in the stories they read.
To further support our teachers, we invited educators from the district office to run professional development sessions on home visits. This training equipped our teachers with valuable skills to engage with students and families on a deeper level.
2023-2024: A Future of Equity and Inclusion
As we look ahead to the 2023-2024 school year, our commitment to equity remains stronger than ever. Our teachers will continue to receive equity professional development during staff meetings, and we will keep the conversation alive in our principal meetings.
Our continued partnership with East Ed will empower us to drive equity initiatives forward. We are also deepening our connections with our school community. At Back to School night in September 2023, we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a taco truck and mariachi band. We have also continued to highlight other cultural celebrations, such as Rosh Hashana.
As we expand our affinity groups, we're creating space for meaningful discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion. And we're thrilled to have dedicated resources for our DEI initiatives, thanks to unspent federal funds from PPS.
- Affinity groups for 4th and 5th graders, both for white students and students of color.
- Support for teachers using diverse books and decentering whiteness in lesson planning.
- Collaboration with Uzma Toosey, our PTA DEI coordinator.
- Regular meetings with the Maplewood Equity committee.
- Leadership in staff meetings and professional development sessions.
- Parent engagement through evening sessions.
To further strengthen our community bonds, we've allocated almost $7,000 in funds to support teachers conducting home visits during the 2023-2024 school year.
2024 and Beyond
Our journey towards equity and inclusion is ongoing. Our commitment is resolute, and we're excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
At Maplewood School, we believe that creating an equitable and inclusive environment is a collective effort. We are proud of our progress, and we're committed to learning and growing together as a community. Together, we will continue to nurture a school environment where every student feels valued and empowered to succeed.
Stay tuned for more updates on our journey towards equity and inclusion at Maplewood School!