Portland, OR - The first cohort of forty school administrators, teachers and counselors, from three partner school districts, completed Open School's Equity Certificate Program for School Leaders with personal portfolio presentations and community equity dialogue on Thursday, June 30, 2016 from 8am - 1pm in the Bauccio Commons building at the University of Portland, 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203.
Created in deep partnership between Open School, the School of Education at the University of Portland, and Center for Equity and Inclusion, the Equity Certificate Program for School Leaders is a year-long, graduate-level course of study where educators learn how to unpack personal and institutionalized racism in our educational system, learn culturally responsive practices for creating more equitable and inclusive school environments, and learn to lead their colleagues through this process of change.
"We know that our educators want to learn and are deeply capable of better serving kids and families of color," says Kate Woicke, Director of Equity Partnerships at Open School. "But no one can do it alone. Every aspect of our equity leadership program is about working collectively for change, with the wisdom and support of a community."
Each candidate presented a personal "leading for equity" portfolio to community leaders and discussed questions designed to both affirm and challenge newfound perspectives on equity leadership. For example, how does each candidate plan to use his or her deeper equity lens, resolve and skills to better serve kids and families of color in their classrooms, their colleagues' classrooms, and across their entire building?
"I no longer feel alone in this work," says Darcie Brand, a school counselor in Gresham who earned an equity certificate along with five other educators in her building. "I have a new group of allies with whom I can work to help my students be more successful."
Over forty community leaders participated in the discussion, some of who helped to create and fund the Equity Certificate Program for School Leaders to attack racial disparities in education outcomes differently in Oregon: Sam Breyer (Superintendent, Centennial School District), James Hiu (Deputy Superintendent, Gresham-Barlow School District), John Watzke, (Dean of the School of Education, University of Portland), Shadiin Garcia (TeachOregon Project Director, The Chalkboard Project), Matthew Ross (Acting Co-Principal, Open School East), and Dawnnesha Lasuncet (Education Program Specialist, Oregon Department of Education).
"Our team saw huge impact on our kids, in their self-identity and their pride in themselves, already through the course of this year," says Danni Langston, a third grade teacher at Hollydale Elementary School in Gresham. "Now the hope is that we carry this work throughout the building to all of our colleagues."