When Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle High School reopen this month, students will be served by teachers and staff who are getting ramped-up training in addressing the needs of a diverse population.
School leaders have a host of plans this year to promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) goals throughout the district, from training staff in DEIB topics to implementing new systems of accountability.
District DEIB Director Andrew Nyamekye says 84% of faculty members participated in DEIB training last school year — and for the first time this year, the training will extend to food service employees, building and maintenance workers and other support staff.
Nyamekye also plans to roll out a new Bias Response Protocol and Reporting System for hate-driven incidents by the start of 2024.
He is not alone in this work: Christine Brown, a special education teacher at Concord Integrated Preschool, is among a host of educators to serve as DEIB “Teacher Leads,” bringing DEIB concepts to her students and serving as a resource to parents and colleagues. This coming year, Brown hopes to bring the district’s annual multicultural food festival to her preschool to celebrate the heritages of her young students.
Earlier this summer, Nyamekye and Brown joined dozens of school leaders from across Massachusetts under the golden dome of the State House on Beacon Hill to celebrate the launch of the Association of Massachusetts School Equity Leaders (AMSEL). The organization seeks to connect and uplift diversity and inclusion-focused school professionals.
Nyamekye called the launch “incredibly moving,” and said the presence of Governor Maura Healey, state Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler and other top officials signified their “full support” for the new association.
AMSEL members like Nyamekye gather monthly to share ideas, collaborate and problem-solve in their DEIB roles. The group adds a “layer of support” for the professionals — many of whom are the only ones in their respective school districts to hold DEIB positions, Nyamekye said.
The number of DEIB-related positions in schools and workplaces spiked rapidly after the death of George Floyd in 2020. Indeed.com reported a 123% increase in DEI job listings on their website between May and September of that year. At the same time, DEIB professionals in Massachusetts schools “found themselves often isolated in managing the complexities of an inaugural position with limited resources and historical guidance,” per AMSEL’s website.
The organization began as an affinity group when a handful of leaders came together to share resources during the 2019-2020 school year. The State House event marked AMSEL’s evolution into a full-fledged association.
“The work is becoming much more of a priority, not just for school districts but for the state of Massachusetts,” Nyamekye said.