We are a group of teachers, instructional assistants, support staff, parents, administrators and an equity consultant that meet monthly to focus on social justice issues for our staff, students and families. Since 2014, our team has created and delivered professional development, family and community workshops and engagement events, resources and activities for our students in order to discuss race, equity and what it means for our school community.
In 2014, Claxton Elementary's Racial Equity Team received funding from the Asheville City Schools Foundation to help train our staff on what racial equity and structural racism means with the help and support of Craig White, a consultant from outside of Asheville City Schools. Through his experience with non-profits and various other racial equity training, White helped us create norms and better understand what racial equity means.
In 2014, Claxton staff identified the following racial disparities that we felt exist in our school community:
- parental/family involvement,
- student leadership roles,
- food & nutrition,
- Academically/Intellectually Gifted program,
- technology/access to information, messaging, and
- staff composition.
In this first year, we also developed the Family Voices nights in order to provide a space for families of color to describe to us their experience at Claxton. This space is intentionally created to listen and not to "talk at" our families. Our Media Center mural was a result of student self-portraits during Family Voices nights in 2014-2015. This project was in response to a messaging disparity our staff identified where students of color are not often represented in books or artwork. This was the beginning to creating more culturally responsive and diverse learning spaces.
During the 2015-2016 school year, our team decided to focus on the discipline and student leadership disparities. Staff, especially those who facilitated student clubs, were encouraged to consider referring back to our foundational structural racism training, implicit bias and microaggressions trainings via a racial equity lens to ensure that these student groups mirrored the racial demographics of our student population. To learn more about 2015-16 and its outcomes, here is our final report for 2015-16.
In 2017-18, we no longer received funding from the Asheville City Schools Foundation, but wanted to continue to provide training and workshops to our staff and families. The Claxton Racial Equity Team became the Claxton Social Justice League, in order to broaden our work to include the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Immigrant rights within racial justice. We became self-funded and developed partnerships outside of Asheville City Schools in order to continue our work.
Currently, we continue to provide space to talk about social justice topics with students, staff and families through the Teaching Tolerance resources, including their Social Justice Standards and other school-wide events, such as the YWCA's Stand Against Racism day. Our Family Voices nights continue to provide feedback to our school from our families of color. Our team is grateful for having a space to support our staff and students in social justice work.