Building an Inclusive Community

Timberline Middle School Equity and Inclusion Efforts

From Principal's newsletter sent on Oct 16th, 2020

 

Timberline, along with Parks and Baker Elementary school, have joined in collective efforts with interest to create and nurture a more inclusive school environment for all. From the isolation which may occur from the virtual setting to factors that may be causing division in our outside world, we believe it is critical (more than ever) to come together as a community and nurture venues that allow  understanding, authenticity, connection, and varied voices and perspectives to be heard. Below outlines details of the “This Is My Story” Campaign. You will notice there are opportunities for students, staff, and families. In addition, there is information for families who want to participate in our optional community book study.  

Purpose of Campaign:

  • Provide a safe community forum to explore and understand the perspectives and experiences of people who are different from you.
  • Provide a community opportunity for participants to approach inclusion with collective responsibility.

There are many differences of a community that may shape personal experiences and stories; some of these include differences of gender, race, age, learning ability, economic status, language, and personal background. The above goals/purposes align with the district’s Strategic Plan and the focused work of the District’s Equity and Inclusion Department. Information can be found here: https://www.lwsd.org/programs-and-services/opportunity-and-equity  More specifically identified within the district plan, “Curricula should be deeply intertwined within race and equity work, as described above with the collaboration between the Teaching & Learning and Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion Departments. To ensure that our efforts will be ingrained in everything we do in order to dismantle racism, our work is grounded in the foundations of cultural competency, which includes raising individual awareness, deepening knowledge, increasing skills, and providing the foundation for advocacy and action.”  

 With this in mind, we started the school year discussing our collective role in creating an inclusive environment (which includes understanding different people’s experiences and reflecting on intended or unintended barriers). Our job as a school is not to tell students what to believe. Instead, our job is to nurture critical thinking skills, include family beliefs/perspectives, and provide a balanced forum of voice where students can authentically share their beliefs and experiences. When we have the opportunity to learn about people who are different from our stories and experiences, as Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.”

 School Goal:

Our goal as a school is to provide a safe an inclusive environment that…

  • Acknowledges characteristics of an inclusive environment
  • Allows understanding of perspectives from ALL people including differently identified groups and those who represent both dominant/larger populations and unrepresented/smaller populations
  • Elevates unheard voices to better understand perspectives
  • Allows understanding of the impacts of implicit bias
  • Allows understanding of systems of privilege (whether intentional or unintentional)
  • Improves cultural competency (understanding the diverse perspectives of others different from you)
  • Utilizes partnerships within the community to support needs
    • Values and incorporates student and family-specific views


Year in A Glance:

Throughout the school year, individuals will have an opportunity to tell their story through a monthly focus. In hopes that our community consider and include all voices in our daily actions, the venue of story telling will allow us to learn from perspectives and experiences that differ from our own.

November “This Is My Story” Focus: Gratitude
December “This Is My Story” Focus:  Generosity
January “This Is My Story” Focus: Differences
February “This Is My Story” Focus:  Inclusion
March “This Is My Story” Focus: Kindness
April “This Is My Story” Focus: Failure/forgiveness
May “This Is My Story” Focus: Successes

   

Process:

  • Each month, students, staff, and families may opt in to tell their story through a Form Survey link.
    • Participants may choose to include their name or remain anonymous.
    • Stories would be selected and told through varied venues. To ensure safety and validate perspectives, volunteers may read the stories of others.
    • Throughout the school year, the school and PTSA will jointly host events and activities that allow the stories of others outside our community to be told. Venues include:
      • Community book study
      • Guest speakers
    • In addition, monthly focuses will be woven into community events including:
      • School bulletin information
      • PTSA bulletin information
      • Live virtual events
      • Guest speakers
      • Social media feeds
      • School assemblies
    • Each month, families will have access to optional discussion questions. Students and families are encouraged to discuss topics as a family and explore what your family believes and what you learned from people who are different from you.

 

Book Study to Learn about One Difference: Race (For adults/families only)

This is My Story – Story Show Case