In the past 5 years, our nation has seen an uptick in racial incidents across country with Charlottesville being the most recent example to underscore that we are not, in fact, in a post-racial society and there is still much work to be done.
Very often, schools are safe spaces where race and racism are discussed. Especially in our urban environments, diversity and inclusivity are given lip service without understanding where the need for such a setting comes from. Without that knowledge, and the knowledge of how race is at play internally, interpersonally, institutionally, and systemically it is impossible to cultivate a true anti-racist, culturally responsive environment.
Rachel Willis, CEO & Founder of Elevating Equity, will be presenting a case study at our 9th Annual Conference entitled The Journey to Leading An Anti-Racist Organization: A Case Study of Paul Robeson Charter School. In this session, Rachel will unpack all four levels of racism, and focus on how institutional racism is at play within schools: from who is on the board and how money is raised to who has power and how recruitment and retention of both students and faculty is managed, each policy offers an opportunity to reflect on whether or not the current practices are equitable. While we often think about and define racism as derogatory language or acts of extreme violence, we rarely look at how policies are at play in creating and/or perpetuating racism.
Willis argues that “every day we are either reinforcing or dismantling racism” in our work and our school policies are an excellent place to look and reflect on what our role is in that work.
Presenting alongside Willis is John Amenda, Head of School for the Paul Robeson Charter School in Trenton, NJ. Amenda will share the steps he led his school to take towards becoming what Willis defines as an anti-racist institution. Decision-making and really engaging the community the school serves, as well as providing the space to receive feedback on the mission and vision were all a part of the process and the outcome may surprise you.
Join us for this critical session in guided reflection and best practices towards elevating equity for all.
Rachel Willis is the CEO & Founder of Elevating Equity. A winner of Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award, Elevating Equity is an organization which supports educators and community members in creating anti-racist, culturally responsive schools. Since its launch, Elevating Equity has impacted the education of over 2500 students in New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
Recognized as a Milken Educator, Rachel has over a decade of experience teaching and leading in K-12 and graduate level settings. Prior to Elevating Equity, she redesigned Teach For America’s professional development program in Washington, D.C. and Maryland to center around culturally responsive teaching. She also designed and led a master’s pilot program at Columbia University’s Teachers College focused on preparing aspiring principals to lead racially equitable schools. Rachel currently resides in her hometown of Atlanta.