WEST NEWBURY – Superintendent Justin Bartholomew and Assistant Superintendent Brent Conway wish to share an update with the community regarding ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the district.
Assistant Superintendent Conway presented an update regarding this work to the School Committee on April 15.
“This work is imperative to the success and wellbeing of our students. They all need to know they are welcome, included, valued and heard here at Pentucket, and it is our responsibility to prepare them to be understanding, kind members of society who are aware of the hardships people have and continue to face as a result of racism,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “We continue to reflect on our curriculum, policies, procedures and opportunities for future growth, and I thank our staff, students, families and community for your support of this critical work.”
While diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have been ongoing at Pentucket Regional School District, Assistant Superintendent Conway stresses the importance of being able to continue that work in-person next school year.
“We’ve worked hard to make strides in our diversity, inclusion and equity efforts even amid the pandemic, but look forward to continuing these conversations and trainings in-person next school year as well,” Assistant Superintendent Conway said. “Continuing these conversations in-person will support our efforts to build an environment where these complex, nuanced topics can be discussed with sensitivity and care, and we can make the necessary changes to our curriculum and training.”
During his presentation to the School Committee, Assistant Superintendent Conway gave an overview of the district’s next steps regarding its diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism work:
- Spring and summer 2021: middle and high school staff will participate in professional development activities to support Culturally Responsive Teaching.
- Fall 2021: high school students will take part in focus groups to support the district in assessing new literature to ensure a diverse range of voices are included in the curriculum and represented appropriately. This effort will also amplify student voices.
- Fall 2021: the district is adopting an elementary literacy curriculum which will feature diverse authors and a varied representation of characters, people, places and concepts.
- Fall 2021: the district will seek grant funding for a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant to provide professional development to all staff.
- Fall and winter 2021: all staff will participate in professional development regarding implicit bias and how culture plays a role in education.
- Next school year (2021-2022): the district will establish a student leadership group consisting of middle and high school students that will learn, promote and educate their peers on matters related to diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism.
Recent and Previous Work
Pentucket has been actively and thoughtfully seeking to further promote diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism district wide for several years. A coordinated effort to support this work was launched in 2019. Work that has taken place and is underway since then includes:
- This school year: the English Department conducted a text review for the middle and high school English curriculum. Educators reviewed and updated texts to ensure diverse representation of gender, race and ethnicity.
- Spring 2020: a group of educators participated in a book study on Culturally Responsive Teaching and the brain. Educators in the group participated in a personalized professional development session regarding these topics with author Zaretta Hammond.
- Fall 2020: educators participated in a professional development regarding curriculum and instructional bias and how they impact students.
- Last school year (2019-2020): the district completed a review of its history and social studies curriculum. Revisions were made to units regarding Indigenous people, slavery, the civil rights era and other topics to ensure historical accuracy and a diverse range of voices. Several new texts were brought into the curriculum.
- Fall 2019: the district conducted a data profile review of students in middle and high school to identify learning and opportunity gaps among students. Action plans were developed and implemented to address those gaps, as were new policies and procedures.
- Since 2019: the district has outlined its Social Emotional Learning framework and tiered supports at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Social emotional learning has also been embedded in the district’s curriculum.
For the latest updates, visit the district’s website by clicking here.