Diversity Matters

by Brian L. Johnson, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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Last week, TPS hosted The Race Institute for K-12 educators. Four TPS staff members were among the educators from around the area who attended the three-day-long workshop. This was not the first time TPS has hosted the Race Institute, but it marked a renewed and strengthened partnership. We believe that a long-term partnership with the institute is critical to the commitment we have made as a school to diversity equity, and inclusion. The Race Institute will play a key role in cultivating foundational tools and knowledge for our faculty and staff to better support and instruct our students to think, act, and solve problems in more complex and ethically responsive ways.

Our goal is to send 10 to 15 teachers per year to The Race Institute until everyone has been trained. To kickoff this commitment, members of the administrative team and our board president participated, demonstrating that they walk the walk, just as the faculty is expected to follow suit. Joining me at the institute this year were Erin Gordon (Division Director, preschool-2nd grade), Tanya Salewski (Middle School Director), Jeffrey Mordan (Director of Innovation and Systems), and Derek Jokelson (TPS Board President).

During the course of our three days, we were pushed to reflect on our various identities, grow our cultural competencies, unpack our privilege, practice being upstanders/activists, and learn how our decisions impact students and the greater community. We discussed ways to discern between myths and facts when it comes to American history, identify examples of systemic and systematic racism and their impact on society, and have frank conversations across race.

We left the workshop feeling even more confident that continued participation in The Race Institute is the right course to take for our baseline training, and we look forward to our faculty’s future engagement in the program.