Booker T. Washington Middle School has established an Equity Team whose goals include enhancing and improving efforts to ensure academic success by closing opportunity gaps and providing equitable and inclusive working and learning environments for all students, families, staff and communities. Additionally, it is intended that increase in diversity and equity and establishing these conversations will lead to tangible and intangible results such as increased cultural understanding and decreased discipline rates. The specific goals of the Equity Team will be determined by its committee so that we can determine the focus most appropriate for our school.
The NYC Department of Education has established the Equity and Excellence for All program with the intention of supporting diversity in New York City public schools. For the NYC Department of Education "Equity" means meeting every student where they are, and providing the support, resources, and high expectations for them to achieve at consistently high levels.
District 3 has asked that all schools create a distinct Equity Team comprised of parents, students, faculty and administration to begin the process of assessing what equity and diversity means for their school community and begin the process of establishing an open dialogue.
The definition of diversity includes: Socio-economic, Region, Disability, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, Language, Age, Religion.
The DOE is committed to creating and supporting learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City and with the belief that all students benefit from diverse and inclusive schools and classrooms.
Randee Johnson, teacher
Danielle Zipkin, teacher
Nildania Perez, parent
Meeting schedule TBD.
steering committee meeting minutes
NEWS and resources
JUNE 17, 2021 UPDATE
To celebrate Pride Month, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) prepared a slide show for teachers to share with their classes this week. In addition, GSA will be hosting a Pride mask decorating activity after school next week.
June has also been designated as Immigrant Heritage Month. With so many New Yorkers being the descendents of immigrants or a recent immigrant, Immigrant Heritage Month is the perfect time to explore our family’s legacies and the heritage of other people that make up our diverse city. The Immigrant Learning Center lists 47 books about immigrants and immigration for all ages. If listening to storytelling is more appealing to you, NPR’s new audio-visual series, “Where We Come From”, which debuted on June 1st, features family histories of immigrants of color. The series, developed by Anjuli Sastry who is of South Indian descent, centers the voices of immigrants through intergenerational conversations on the complexities of being an immigrant of color.
JUNE 15, 2021 MEETING NOTES
The Equity Team hosted its final meeting of the school year on Tuesday, June 15th to review activities and insights from the past year, and to brainstorm goals for next year. Please check out the collaborative slide deck (PDF), including group-sourced ideas for next year.
CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH 2021
Join us as we celebrate Juneteenth, June 14th - 17th! There will be lots of fun with music, snacks, a fence decoration, and more! Every day after school from Monday to Thursday, 1 - 2pm.
Juneteenth Remote Celebration
Friday, June 18, 2021 @ 5pm
But that's not all! We invite all students and their families to a remote celebration on Friday, June 18th at 5pm.
Learn about the history of Juneteenth, play a Juneteenth-inspired Kahoot!, and possibly WIN A PRIZE! Will it be you?
NOTE: Families - pull up a seat next to your Booker T. student! Please use their school Zoom account to register for and join the Zoom!
We can't wait to celebrate with you!
CELEBRATING LGBTQ+ PRIDE MONTH
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month (LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning and others)! The timing of Pride Month honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which began on June 28, 1969. After police raided the Stonewall Inn - a club serving transgender and gay patrons in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan - patrons and neighborhood residents fought back in a protest that fueled the emerging gay rights movement nationwide.
Studies suggest that approximately 8% of adolescents identify as LGBTQ+. Research by the National Center for Sexuality demonstrates that people first begin to recognize their gender and sexual identity around age ten. Throughout the month of June we will be highlighting resources to celebrate Pride Month. Please feel free to e-mail email@example.com if you are aware of relevant resources or events that may be of interest to the school community. As a starting point, we recommend this Guide to Gender Identity Terms from NPR.
We’ve prepared an LGBTQ+ Resource List with books and online resources to enrich knowledge and celebrate Pride Month. Have another resource to suggest? E-mail us!
JUNE 3, 2021 UPDATE
At a special meeting last week, the PTA voted to approve the addition of both Equity and Wellness Parent Lead/Co-Leads to the PTA Executive Board. These two new positions will be elected along with other PTA roles at the PTA meeting on June 8th.
MAY 19, 2021 MEETING UPDATE
On May 19th we held an open Equity Meeting to share updates, begin thinking ahead to the next school year and developing a vision for addressing the needs and gaps created by the pandemic. In particular, the conversation focused on three topics: whether Equity should have a formal role within the SLT, how to ensure more equitable access to devices and high-speed Internet given the increased usage of educational technology, and how to welcome students back to in-person school in a way that re-engages their love of learning and supports both their socio-emotional and academic needs.
EID AL-FITR AND MUSLIM CULTURE
The Eid al-Fitr holiday (or, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”) on May 13, 2021 marked the end of the month of Ramadan. To learn more about Eid al-Fitr and other facets of Muslim culture and religion, see this resource from The Pluralism Project at Harvard. Also check out this guide prepared by the NYCDOE - it includes basic information, resources for further reading, and tips for engaging kids to learn more.
MAY IS ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH!
Each week, the Equity Team will be highlighting resources and links to celebrate and support the AAPI community in this particularly difficult year. If you have additional resources to share, please feel free to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Check out this article on how Julia Wang and Kathy Lu, founders of the Immigrant History Initiative, are working to bring more Asian American history into classrooms.
We call your attention to two national organizations, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and AsianPacificHeritage.gov, that are featuring a range of online events throughout this month, and that have a wealth of educational resources for you and your families to explore throughout the year. Locally, check out Japan Day NYC which has events May 1 - 9, 2021 in Central Park! Check out MS54’s AAPI resource page for additional resources relevant to our school community.
As we continue to honor Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, check out this data-driven blog post describing and debunking the insidious “perpetual foreigner" stereotype.
Finally, please consider supporting relief efforts to address the ongoing the COVID-19 catastrophe in India. PBS has assembled this list of organizations to which you can donate online.
APRIL 21, 2021 MEETING UPDATE
The Equity Steering Committee hosted an open school meeting on April 21 to continue our ongoing conversation about equity and inclusion at the school, with a focus on school-family communication. Nearly 30 parents, teachers, staff, and administrators attended. We opened by sharing this poem by Clint Smith:
When people say, “we have made it through worse before”
all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who
did not live to watch the parade roll down the street…
Read the full poem.
Some themes that emerged from the discussion:
STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE AAPI COMMUNITY AND RESOURCES
We, the Equity Team at MS54, express our solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community within and beyond our school network. We grieve with the families who have lost loved ones in Atlanta in the most recent documented hate crime against people of AAPI descent, and condemn white supremacy along with the systems that enable acts of domestic terrorism. We recognize the importance of contextualizing this tragedy, understanding that the AAPI community, and particularly AAPI women, have needed to fight for safety, civil rights, and equity in America long before the escalated attacks we have recently witnessed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In generating and distributing this resource, we aim to translate alliance into action and amplify the voices of Asian Americans who have always been at the forefront of their own civil rights initiatives throughout history and today.
COME CELEBRATE HOLI WITH THE ASIAN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION!
MS54's AAA will be hosting 2 events to celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors.
On March 22 - 25, 2021, we will host a color throw in the school's courtyard. Decorate a community banner by tossing colorful powders with your hands! There will be music and a selfie station, too!
Social distancing rules will be observed and capacity is limited to 15 people per time slot (15 minutes). Strict timed entry will be in effect in order to make sure this in-person event is fun and safe.
Holi Family Night
Join the AAA for a 1-hour virtual Holi Family Night event, appropriate for all ages, on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 5:30pm. Come hear about Holi's meaning from your peers, create some henna-inspired art, and learn how to make some great Indian foods!
SUPPORTING THE AAPI COMMUNITY
In the face of rising hate crimes, MS54’s Asian American Association would like to share the following resources to support the AAPI community:
MARCH 17, 2021 MEETING NOTES
We hosted an open school meeting to discuss ways to strengthen our school culture towards fostering a growth mindset and supporting all students as multifaceted learners, particularly as we navigate the return to in-person schooling and welcome a new class of 6th-graders next year. We also asked how groups like the Equity Team, SLT, and PTA can work together to embed a focus on equity issues throughout school culture and planning, and what resources are needed to support growth for all learners in multiple dimensions. Themes from the wide-ranging discussion included:
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE GUIDE
MS54's counseling team has provided a mental health resource guide to clarify families' first points of contacts within the school, as well as listing free and low-cost mental health resources in the community, mental health resources for families of color, and a list of recommended books and podcasts to engage families and children around mental health issues.
BLACK CULTURE APPRECIATION MONTH
Check out some of our other BCAM spaces!
Black Culture Appreciation Month Activity Guide
Spend some of your Mid-Winter vacation having fun with our Black Culture Appreciation Month Activity Guide! Check out our suggestions for media (films, books, music), restaurants and shopping!
BCAM Kahoot #2
Friday, February 26, 2021 @ 5:30pm
We hope that you have enjoyed all of the rich content from the Daily Slideshow! Catch up on anything you missed! On Friday, we invited you all to play a Kahoot hosted by our very own Mr. Dutton and Mr. Welch! The top 5 winners received prizes!
Booker T. Family Night for BCAM
February 24, 2021
On Wednesday, MS54 continued their Black Culture Appreciation Month celebration with a Family Night event that included:
CELEBRATING BLACK HAITIAN HISTORY
In 1791, a coordinated slave revolt in Saint Domingue, today’s Republic of Haiti, spawned a thirteen-year revolution against French colonialism that resulted in the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere. For African Americans, Haiti’s declaration of independence in 1804 became a symbol of self-emancipation and radical equality leading many to emigrate to Haiti in the mid 1820s. In contrast, Thomas Jefferson and the Southern planter class were terrified and opposed to Haitian independence. Jefferson advocated for the successful abolition of trade relations between the US and Haiti. Similarly, France promoted Haiti’s political and economic isolation. Despite being the richest colony in the 18th century, the abolition of trade relations coupled with the $21 billion “debt” Haiti paid to France for the “theft” of slaveholder’s property devastated the fledgling republic. The repercussions of these corrupt policies impact Haiti’s economic insolvency to this day. However, the Haitian revolution continues to inspire literary, philosophical and political discourses throughout the African diaspora. (Source: Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.)
To learn more, families may enjoy this short interview with Leyla McCalla, a Haitian American musician who talks with the interviewer about her music, identity, and Black Haitian history.
FEBRUARY 2021 PTA PRESENTATION
The Equity Steering Committee gave a short presentation at the PTA meeting on February 9, 2021 to share data on school demographics, recap some of the activities we have worked on since getting started in 2018 - 19, and preview plans for the rest of the year. You can view the presentation slides, with links, to additional resources.
LUNAR NEW YEAR AT MS54
The MS54 Asian American Association (AAA) celebrated Lunar New Year on February 10, 2021 at 5:30PM with an event imparting the story behind Lunar New Year, how different cultures celebrate the holiday, making paper lanterns, gathering some festive recipe ideas, and playing a fun Kahoot for a chance to win a prize!
IMMIGRANT HISTORY INITIATIVE
On January 22, 2021, the Immigrant History Initiative and Dr. Jenny Wang presented a free Talking to Kids about Asian American Identity and Racism workshop for parents on how to engage in conversations about Asian American identity and racism.
The organizers also provided additional resources and references:
MINNEAPOLIS AND POLICE BRUTALITY
We grieve for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many other victims of white supremacy and police brutality in America. The Equity Steering Committee at MS 54 stands in solidarity with the protestors risking their lives to demand justice, accountability, and reform, and with the members of our MS54 school community - students, families, teachers, and staff - who bear the burdens of this moment especially, and too often on their own.
We’ve compiled a list of important reading, action steps, and other resources tuned to the moment, to help ground your response to these times.
CELEBRATING LATINX AND HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH 2020
Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 runs from September 15th through October 15th, recognizing and celebrating the contributions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean, as well as their impacts on American society and culture. The observance was born in 1968 when Congress authorized an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a month long celebration, always beginning on September 15th. September 15th marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on September 16th and September 18th, respectively.
See the 2020 Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month resource list with videos, books, websites, and news articles compiled by the MS54 Equity Team.
On Friday, June 5th, the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility joined us for a facilitated discussion about the issues being experienced in our community and throughout the country. The following poems were part of the introduction to this event.
The Trough, by Judy Brown
Shoulders, by Naomi Shihab Nye
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN MONTH (MAY 2020)
Students in MS54's Asian American Association have created two videos:
#morethanamask CAMPAIGN VIDEO
We are #morethanamask. Founded by the Asian American Association at MS54 to raise awareness about health, safety, and discrimination. Please support our efforts and activism by reposting or creating your own post using our #morethanamask.
Follow @aaazn54 on Instagram for more ways to celebrate Asian heritage and more ways to support our activism.
ADDRESSING HATE IN THE ERA OF COVID-19 VIDEO
STUDENT AFFINITY GROUPS
ASIAN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
The Asian American Association was founded by a cohort of students who were inspired by the growing sense of Asian activism during the winter of 2020.
If you’re interested in joining us for the 2020-2021 school year, please fill out the prospective member survey!
GENDER SEXUALITY ALLIANCE
The GSA is a safe space for all students to be themselves and to discuss LGBTQ+ issues, problems and experiences - while both improving the schools community and of course, hanging out with friends and having fun!
If you are interested in joining us or have questions, please sign up for more info (you must have a DOE account) or e-mail Mr. Chilelli.
SHADES: A MULTICULTURAL AFFINITY GROUP
Do you identify as Black, African American, Latinx, Caribbean American, or a person of color?
Do you want to have a space to talk about topics relevant to our communities?
Fill out this Google Form to learn about Shades: A Multicultural Affinity Group.