Volume 8 | March 2021
Support is Needed in Times of Trauma

From the desk of Sebastian Witherspoon
There is great need for all of us to be there for one another. As we transition into kids being physically in the classroom and we are feeling Spring upon us, there are many smiles and a sense of renewal and new beginnings. There are also some very challenging and traumatic situations happening across our country that we all must take time to recognize and understand how these events can impact our students and our colleagues.
The tragic and unacceptable murders in Georgia of six Asian American Pacific Islander women last week is a devastating situation that extends the trend of anti-Asian violence that has occurred for hundreds of years and has been escalated over the past year. In grappling with this painful news, as educational leaders, we must take the time to be there for our students and staff in solidarity, compassion, and understanding that we stand with them and have resources available to care for them.

The Chauvin Trial is yet another example of a traumatic event that will have peaks and valleys over an extended period of time. We need to, as a school community, be prepared to recognize the needs of our students, families, staff, and self. We must reflect upon the commitments we made last year after the murder of George Flyod. This trial will be discussed in the news, during meal times, on social media, and, potentially, in classrooms. We need to ensure we work hard to create safe places for our community. We need our staff to be equipped with guidance and resources. We need to be mindful of age, place, time, and space as events unfold and, ultimately, a verdict is determined.

We also see challenges as our students show back up at school. From glee to being back to anxiety and hesitation of what was missed to fear and trepidation of being back in a place where they may not have connected prior to March of 2020. As students re-enter our physical buildings, we must take time to build. Build relationships that recognize the beautiful and unique attributes of each student. Build a foundation of trust with students where they find their individuality and respect for each other. Build new routines that take into account some of the systemic barriers that became so prevalent over the past year that were hurting students' achievement. Build new learning opportunities that go beyond rote memorization and something that can be 'Googled' but enhances leadership, critical thinking, and reflection.

All of these events, past, present, and future, are experienced by each person in unique ways. Let us all do our very best to recognize our role as educators ensuring our schools are welcoming, our classrooms are safe, and our relationships are strong.

At Equity Alliance MN, we are committed to systemic equity and working with you to support equity across our systems. Learn more about how you and your team can support students, families, and staff through traumatic events by visiting our web page that has resources and information.
Growing for Greater Equity Impact
We are seeking a equity-focused, dynamic, and motivated individual to join our team as an Equity Continuous Improvement VISTA to support equity work in our organization.

Though we will want the VISTA engaged in every facet of our organization, we will support their focus on four key areas:

1. Develop equity audit tools and processes.

2. Develop and support professional development activities and curriculum.

3. Support the development of student programs.

4. Explore opportunities for growth for our organization.
Member District Employment Postings
Member School District Employment Opportunities

Our member districts have the opportunity to include employment postings on our page to help with recruiting and engaging a diverse pool of applicants.

If you are a member district and want to learn more, please contact jstammler@ea-mn.org.

March is Women's History Month
In highlighting Women's History Month we want to recognize the women in our organization who are shaping history today for all of us tomorrow. They are all leaders in the field of equity and we are proud of the contributions they have made to Equity Alliance MN and to our educational community. Below, they highlight women who have impacted their lives as women, as people, and as leaders.
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "If you're always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be."

It takes courage to work for educational equity. It takes courage to be part of the solution to ensure that all students have what they need for success at school and in life. Choosing this work takes one out of the realm of normal and places them on the hero's journey, and it's an amazing journey. I have had the good fortune of being on the journey with many courageous and heroic women from all backgrounds who are committed to educational equity and many of them are here at Equity Alliance MN. I have benefitted from the guidance and support of Tonya Sconiers and all the lessons she brings from her time as a seasoned school principal. She models being a strong woman. She is a force for good for all kids. I have appreciated working alongside Paula O'Loughlin and am delighted that she is coming back to Equity Alliance MN. I celebrate her collaborative spirit, brilliant mind and good heart. I knew the first day I met Janine Stammler that we would be on an incredible journey together. I honor her commitment to youth and marvel at her astuteness. I have grown so much in this work as a result of the wise counsel of Kathy Miller. She presents opportunities for thinking about equity in innovative ways. I am thankful for the allyship of Amy Trombley and am grateful to walk alongside her. The women at Equity Alliance MN are amazing women and they inspire me.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them!” First Lady Michelle Obama

Each day that goes by in my life, I am forever grateful for the Sisterhood of Women the First Lady referred to in the quote above. The women who have made THE difference in my life and the lives of so many. The seemingly ordinary, often unheralded women, who with their tenacity, compassion and sacrifice summon the strength of body and mind to shape our world into a place which protects and nurtures the hopes and dreams of our children and makes possible the impossible. While these pioneers have not sought praise and recognition for their efforts, it is incumbent on us as a society to recognize and honor their contributions and pay credit where credit is due. To the Sisterhood of Women out there, I see you, I thank you and I honor you for all that you are, all that you do and for the enduring legacy you have bestowed on humankind. 
Oprah Winfrey encourages us to, "Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher." While my journey has provided me the opportunity to be surrounded by amazing people, Paula O'Loughlin is someone who exudes this philosophy to the highest degree. I have had the privilege of knowing Paula for several years, as both a colleague and a friend. Paula is a daily reminder of the goodness that exists in humanity, as she has modeled grace, humility, confidence, intelligence, strength, and kindness in every interaction I have had with her over the years. While I still have work to do in my own journey to become a strong, confident woman, I know that having Paula in my life, lifting me higher every day, will make the work easier and more rewarding. Paula, you truly are an inspiration to me!
Equity Alliance MN is Here to Support You
Every organization strives to deliver the highest quality service to the clientele they serve. To do this, successfully identifying the diverse needs of internal and external stakeholders requires first understanding how culture impacts every facet of your organization. The ability to work effectively across difference and leverage those differences as an asset is critical to your organization’s long term growth and success. Consultation, facilitation, executive coaching, implementation support, are some of the other ways we work to support schools, districts, and organizations. Here's a printable flyer and you can also learn more on our website.