Volume 4 | November 2020
We Need Each Other

From the desk of Sebastian Witherspoon
As educators, no matter how you voted, we can all now exhale a collective sigh of relief and put the election cycle behind us! We find ourselves as educators in a time where America is so polarized and divided. If we have learned anything in this extremely trying year, it is that people need people, more importantly, students need us! Behind our most instinctual desire to survive, we are inherently wired to be in relationship with one another. Our ability to connect should not completely depend on whether or not we are democrats or republicans. If our job is to mold and shape the hearts and minds of young people, we are bound to put our personal politics aside and lead with our hearts first. We have an obligation as dedicated educators to lead our learners in the direction of being critical thinkers. We do that by modeling critical thinking ourselves.

Even in a time like this, all is not lost. Although we seem to be in a hopeless time during an unprecedented year in American history. We have to have hope! Not only because we have made it through one of the toughest times in our nation’s history, but because it is essential to be the stewards of hope to our young people. Our students are always watching whether we know it or not. I know that the vast majority believe and understand my message without me saying it. But nonetheless, we all need to be reminded that through our collective challenges in life that we, the critical mass of we, need each other to change the circumstances. We all do better when we all do better. I am reminded of an old adage that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Equity Stakeholder Input Surveys Now Available
The purpose for the Educational Equity Stakeholder Input surveys is to elevate community voices to promote equity and achievement within our school systems.

Creating educational equity within our schools systems and learning environments is multifaceted. We need to include the voices of multiple stakeholders to best understand the current state of equity and inclusion within our systems and schools.

This stakeholder survey is a crucial component to get a clear picture of thoughts and feelings around our current systems and structures. The tool can help schools and districts create a benchmark indicator, develop data and voice informed plans for improvement, and gauge the impact based on future input.
Our Youth Programs are Connecting Students
Equity Alliance MN's Youth Executive Board (YEB) is a multi-district group of high school students who meet weekly to build bonds through team-building activities, learn how to use their power in positive ways to influence change, and work to fulfill their leadership and academic potential. Members learn about social and political advocacy and work with district leadership to promote positive experiences for ALL students. The photo on the left is from last year.

"Youth Executive Board is a community, a place to heal and learn important issues and history that includes diverse narratives. It is completely different from what we learn in the standard curriculum at school. YEB is so significant to me because I learned how to embrace my culture, and felt empowered and welcomed in my identity," share d Student Co-Chair, Laichia Vang from Roseville.

YEB currently has a total of 34 students from all 5 member districts, as well as Stillwater and South Washington County Schools. YEB has a student leadership team, known as the Facilitation Team (FT), who assist in the planning and programming for the current year's students. This year, FT worked hard to plan for the unknowns that come with COVID. As the cross-district collaboration and relationship building is a major aspect of YEB, the FT group decided that we would utilize a hybrid model, splitting the bigger group into two smaller groups. Group Mink and Group Rustin were formed, and we were able to host both groups on-site at the Equity Alliance MN offices twice each. However, with the rise in COVID cases, and most of our participating districts going to full distance learning, we have shifted to do the same for YEB. We will continue to keep the districts updated on the amazing work these brilliant students embark on. 
Staff Spotlight - Janine Stammler
Janine Stammler is a familiar face to Equity Alliance MN. She has been a steadfast pillar of our team taking on new challenges and opportunities. Janine serves as our Operations Manager and is serving as our Interim Student Programs Facilitator. Learn more about Janine here.

If you have any questions about YEB or would like more information about any of our student programs, please feel free to contact Janine Stammler, at jstammler@ea-mn.org.
Triton Public School Engaging in Equity Audit
Triton School District will be working together with Equity Alliance MN in conducting an Equity Audit for their school district. Starting this month, we will be gathering quantitative and qualitative data and information to identify the root causes of disproportionate outcomes among the school community as well as highlight promising practices for achieving equity. As a result of completing an equity audit through surveys, building and classroom walkthroughs, focus groups and community listening sessions, Triton Public Schools will be positioned more accurately to evaluate current practices, develop short and long term strategies for systemic change, implement targeted solutions and educate their school community.