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DEI VISION AND MISSION STATEMENT

BPS is committed to cultivating a sense of belonging in the climate of our schools, district, and the broader community. When students feel connected to their educational environment, it generates tremendous benefits to their educational outcomes. Specifically, celebrating diversity at BPS entails creating equitable learning environments for all students. Moreover, we are adopting the following  definition of diversity: this includes students from historically minoritized groups in the US such as Africans whose ancestors were forced to leave their homelands, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and Indigenous Peoples whose land was taken from them. We also intentionally focus on those students with international, immigrant backgrounds and those first-generation in the US, and all intersectionalities of identities.  

An inclusive learning environment will allow all students to learn uninhibitedly, make more significant interpersonal connections with peers and educators, see themselves in the curriculum and surroundings, and protect space for that student to bring their whole authentic self to the learning environment. This enriches everyone's learning experience overall. 

The rich diversity among our students, faculty, and staff is essential to achieving the desired outcomes of the district. We aim for students to feel, learn and advance in a manner that reflects themselves, and empowers them to acknowledge the positive attributes that they bring to the learning experiences. In order to do so, educators and staff must see students as collaborators in the teaching and learning process alongside the family and community. It is expected that students be supported and guided by loving adults that wholeheartedly see each student as a whole person with unlimited potential.

Belmont exudes excellence. Our goal now is to demonstrate that a more inclusive school district and academic excellence are not mutually exclusive. We achieve true excellence when access and success are not limited to a select few, but ensure that all students and staff have the opportunity to thrive and succeed. Therefore, we must acknowledge and flatten any hurdles and balance the challenges that provide some students with advantages and opportunities over others. 

Measuring the Mission: Equity Audit Process. What now?

Coming into this role, I am bringing these visions to life alongside the Equity Audit process. The audit will allow us to acknowledge, inform, direct, and shape these metrics of success across BPS in the following ways: 

We are learning about the settings, policies, practices, communities, and culture, that do and do not: 

  • Allow students to learn uninhibitedly
  • Make significant interpersonal connections with peers and educators
  • Protect space for that student to bring their authentic self to the learning environment, which enriches everyone's learning experience overall
  • Allow for diversity and representation across school staff and educators who understand and can relate to students unique experiences at all grades, such that students are asset-framed across identity characteristics
  • Implement and develop an inclusive curriculum where all students can see themselves represented, and increase educator skill and comfort in leading the content. 

The next step is working with school leaders to bring these metrics to a most equitable standard. This audit's findings, analysis, and recommendations will be the standard that provides benchmarks and metrics for the schools to measure their success.

The BPS Office of DEI is Committed to: 

Supporting educators in weaving social, racial, and economic justice into the district’s curriculum, work processes, projects, and relationships. This includes equipping our educators with appropriate  knowledge, tools, and safety to adequately address challenges, with necessary severity, to become champions of change in the district. 

Focal points:

  • Continue building upon the district's Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) by developing consistent implementation methods across schools
  • Reflect on, interrogate, and integrate, identity and accountability of self and others (for staff and students) 
  • Engage in courageous conversations about current events and historical topics (for staff and students) 
  • Work to create safe and brave spaces (i.e. learning environments) where students can learn from one another and engage in transformative discourse that challenges worldview and perspectives
  • Commit to cultivating welcoming working and social environments that ensure all staff, in particular diverse staff, are comfortable and are excited to be in Belmont schools to perform as their best self and highest capacity 
  • Bring on and collaborate with experts qualified to examine curriculum, develop an inclusive and antiracist pedagogy where students can see themselves represented, and increase educator skill and comfort in leading the content
  • Collaborate with human resources to assess and increase workforce diversity and retention of educators of color
  • Provide parents, staff, and community members a voice in how BPS provides educational opportunities to students of color and acknowledges the intersectionality of various demographic variables that affect educational outcomes
  • Address hate incidents - this includes creating a cohesive process for students or staff to log the occurrence, to advise on accountability measures, and for school leaders to transparently communicate to families and community members about details, according to the incident
  • Address Audit findings (see Measuring the Missionabove).  

I will be collaborating with the Superintendents and District leaders to successfully honor all of the commitments outlined above, with consistent implementation methods across all BPS schools.  

Chon’tel Washington (she, her, hers)
Belmont Public Schools
cwashington@belmontschools.net

Citations, Credits, Acknowledgments

  1. Worthington, R. L., Stanley, C. A., & Smith, D. G. (2020). Standards of professional practice for Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Standards of professional practice for Chief Diversity Officers. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from NADOHE members.net
  2. Milner, H. R. (2020). Start where you are, but don't stay there: Understanding diversity, opportunity gaps, and teaching in today's classrooms. Harvard Education Press.