Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Important Work across the district
Two groups are currently working for equity and racial justice at Katonah-Lewisboro. The Equity and Racial Justice Committee (ERJC) is comprised of community members, district educators, students, and alumni and is led by facilitators from NYU's Center for Strategic Solutions at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. The All In Action Group is comprised of district educators, administrators and alumni and focuses on bringing an equity lens into the classroom. The goals of both groups are to create systemic change in support of culturally responsive education.
Representatives from All In and ERJC were invited to provide an update to the Board of Education in late January, a midway point in the school year. Here's an overview as well as three glimpses into the ways KLSD is grounding its teaching in equity and justice.
Encouraging students to be curious about others
Embedding equity into curriculum
Empowering students to think critically about history
The All In Action Group
The All In Action Group started as a difficult conversation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020. The importance of the group’s work became all the more evident—and personal—when John Jay alumni attended an early meeting to share their experiences and their perceptions that Katonah-Lewisboro was not doing all it could to equip its students with a meaningful education about inequity and racism.
The group's conversations and commitment have continued without interruption. Teachers support and challenge one another to think about how best to revise existing curriculum and respond to unfolding history. Following the January 6 riots at the Capitol, the group’s meeting spilled over the two-hour mark as the educators discussed how they had processed the violent attack with their students that day.
"We owe it to the kids to be better,” said Candy Wilmot, the staff developer who initiated the gatherings. After forty-plus conversations, more than 100 participants continue to challenge each other’s complacency and focus on how to embed relevant conversations about race and equity into their work with students.
Equity and Racial Justice Committee
In September 2020, Superintendent Andrew Selesnick announced that KLSD was forming a group to look at issues of equity and racial justice in the district with the goal of closing gaps and best supporting all students. Approximately seventy community members, staff, students, and alumni have been participating in monthly conversations facilitated by Natalie McCabe Zwerger, Director of the NYU Center for Strategic Solutions, and Luis Alejandro Tapia, an Equity Coach for the Center.
Superintendent Selesnick describes the group's relationship to All In as separate yet intertwined. “The more I learn about this work, the more I come to understand that it must happen in ways that are very personal and in ways that are systemic and organizational,” he said. “We are not only fortunate to have two groups working, we should feel proud."
Zwerger also spoke to the synergy between the two groups. She described ERJC’s work as creating the architecture for equity in the district. “What’s particularly unique about Katonah-Lewisboro is that you have a huge, invested group of teachers and alumni—All In—who have been working together for months. This is really going to complement and strengthen this infrastructure in ways we don’t see in other school districts.”
Kaitlyn Varriele, a junior at John Jay High School who has been participating in ERJC discussions, affirmed both groups’ work. “I have already seen change in our curriculum and in our community. Our teachers are integrating social justice into our Socratic seminars and other discussions. The entire class is engaged in these crucial conversations.”