The Team Striving for a More Equitable Yorktown

The Team Striving for a More Equitable Yorktown

In the summer of 2020, our school established an Equity Team with a goal of advocating for curricular and institutional changes. The team’s vision is to ensure an equitable, inclusive, safe and anti-racist school community.

“We want to continually make our students feel a sense of belonging here at Yorktown. So that they see themselves represented within our walls when they walk into this building. So they feel like this is a place where they’re gonna be seen, heard, valued and supported,” Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator Tamarah Stanley said.

The team, led by Stanley, is made up of administrators, teachers, parents and students. Caroline Storer, a senior on the Equity Team, shares her opinion on the necessity of including people from all pillars of our community.

“It’s important to have voices from all that would be impacted or could contribute,” Storer said.

Equity Team members get together once a month on Microsoft Teams to examine individual experiences, data, policies and practices to actively identify bias, inequity and discrimination at Yorktown. Student members have an additional in-person meeting each month to ensure our student body is being represented.

These jobs are broken down into three sub-committees within the team: the School Culture and Community Building Committee, School Structures-Access and Opportunity Committee and the Curriculum, Instruction and Representation Committee. Within these committees, members are dedicated to closing opportunity and achievement gaps, as well as making sure students feel visible and heard.

Though many are unaware that our school has an equity team, the group is the driving force behind some of our school’s innovative endeavors and recent developments. Aside from establishing lessons on identity in Patriot Period advisory and inviting guest speakers to encourage students to use their voice, the Equity Team is responsible for the implementation of No Place for Hate. 

“We’ve established Yorktown as a No Place for Hate School. We’re taking a stance against hate. That’s probably our biggest accomplishment. With this, we’ve had opportunities for students to engage in conversation about how they are represented and affected on different levels,” Stanley said.

No Place for Hate is a program developed by the Education Department of the Anti-Defamation League that is dedicated to incorporating anti-bias and anti-bullying resources to create a sense of belonging for students. For example, instead of simply being punished for defamation, students take part in conversations to reflect and learn from each other. 

More accomplishments of the Equity Team can be seen within classrooms. Storer highlights grading for equity, an Equity Team development that she now sees in her daily life.

“I’ve seen more teachers implement equitable grading practices, the three-four point scale, and putting less weight on participation points and putting more emphasis on growth rather than scores,” Storer said.

These accomplishments are just the start of the Equity Team’s work. 

“This is a continual process. As our student population changes and grows, we want to make sure that we’re continuing to support students. We recognize that the needs will change too. It’s an ever-evolving process,” Stanley said.

As Stanley reminds us, equity is an enduring journey. The team is always looking for new ideas and members to contribute along this road. 

“Equity impacts all of us and it’s important to help uplift people in our own community. We should be striving for change at Yorktown, even though we think it might only impact a few people. Generations after us could be benefited by the work we’re doing now,” Storer said. 

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About the Contributor
Claire Stromseth
Claire Stromseth, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Correspondent
Claire Stromseth is a senior and is returning for her second year on staff. She is The Yorktown Sentry’s first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Correspondent, building on her strong interest and engagement in DEI issues. Having lived in Asia for ten years, Claire brings a global perspective to our local lens.

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