Race in the classroom




Nathaniel Abeyta, Pirateer Staff

Racism has stirred a lot of controversy in today’s America and many people say they are treated differently because of the color of their skin. We wanted to take a look at the issue here at Englewood High School. Three African American students say Englewood schools do a good job treating students with equality, “My teachers treat me equally amongst other students,” said Ti’rick Ivory (12). He says it can be hard to look around at the teachers and not see adults of color but he believes the staff does a good job trying to connect. “The teachers here treat me the same as they would any other student,” Josiah Hazard (11) said echoing the sentiment of other students of color, “My teachers are cool with me,” said Aspyn Fisher (11).

Teachers undergo hours and hours of equity training. Mandy Miller, the Restorative Practices Coach, says the focus on training teachers and staff have included consistent lessons in at-risk populations and differing backgrounds, “For the last two years there has been a huge focus on trauma-informed instruction and restorative practices during staff professional development. Within that, we talk about equity because it is very obvious that a lot of our teachers do not look like some of our students. During these professional developments, we spend a great deal of time discussing the importance of meeting the students social and emotional needs as well as building cultural awareness.”

The work for staff is detailed, “During our last professional development day, teachers worked in groups on identifying what makes up our “lenses.” Some of the identifiers that were discussed include culture, ethnicity, social and economic status, gender, political views, and religion. Then, on a chart paper, we had a big pair of eyeglasses and teachers filled in the “lenses” based on what we thought the student’s lenses looked like. Lastly, we compared the staff lenses to the student’s lenses and some teachers took this activity back to their classrooms for students to complete. It was an enlightening experience for all of us!”

Math teacher Dean Menardi, says culture and race are on his mind daily, “ I think that the most important thing when dealing with a cultural background with a student is to realize everyone comes from a different perspective. I am Italian/ American and a lot of learning boundaries are from how they were raised, I was raised knowing everyone has a back story and we are not to judge. As a teacher, I find whatever it takes to help my kids respond to what’s going on in and outside the classroom. I make sure to appreciate the differences and not look past it but build with them as being a teacher in such a diverse school and community”

Para Beth Davis sits in on numerous classes around the school and sees teachers reaching out to students who would rather not put themselves in the limelight, “I think it’s such an important topic to address that coming from a Caucasian female influencer that students shouldn’t feel left out when learning. In the classes, I’ve sat in before I see that a lot of students hold back from raising their hands but teachers push them to realize that everyone has a different background.