The Joseph Sears School DEB Newsletter
Volume 11
December 2021
A Special Holiday Message
The Diversity, Equity, Belonging Committee at Joseph Sears School began two years ago with the goal of advancing the importance and value of diversity throughout the school. There is still much work to be done. This holiday season we could use your help to make the Sears community more welcoming and compassionate.

The greatest gift you can provide to your child is a deepening awareness and embrace of the world they will help shape once they leave our small town. Please consider talking to your children this season about the importance of respecting differences in skin color, sexual orientation, country of origin, socioeconomic status, ability, gender identity, and many other aspects of our beautiful and increasingly diverse community that requires us all to be our most compassionate selves. 

When one of our Sears’ students suffers due to bullying and cruelty, we are all called upon to heal each other, and ourselves. So we ask you to put decency and kindness at the top of your family’s holiday gift list this year.
Our Annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide
At this special time of year, DEB is excited to present several books, businesses, and non-profit recommendations aligned with our mission.
2021 BOOKS
Here are highlights of books published in 2021 that align with our mission. For a full, comprehensive list of books, please see HERE.

Younger Readers
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

In this beautiful debut children’s book by actress Lupita Nyong’o, a young girl struggles with feeling unworthy because she is darker than everyone else. But a magical journey in the night sky enlightens her and changes everything. 

Middle Age Readers
How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby

A powerful story of a young teen newly diagnosed with depression.

Young Adult Readers
On Top of Glass: My Stories as A Queer Girl in Figure Skating by Karina Manta

A memoir by a former figure skating star who reflects on what it is like to be a bisexual professional athlete.

Businesses That Support Anti-Racism
If you are considering gifts that support Black creatives, business owners, and people of color, here are a few local shops to consider.

Maison du Prince (Winnetka) - a new boutique floral design and home accessories store in Winnetka founded by acclaimed Chicago designer Ramsey Prince.

Black-owned businesses in Evanston - a great write up from The Daily Northwestern on black-owned businesses in Evanston.

Kido (Chicago) - a small shop in Chicago that focuses on representation and inclusivity and offers adorable gifts for babies and kids.

Semicolon bookstore (Chicago) - a black woman-owned bookshop that is committed to raising literacy rates. The shop invites CPS students every month to #ClearTheShelves. Free of charge, students can take home whatever books they’d like.
Non-Profits Making a Difference
If giving is your gift of choice this holiday season, here are a few non-profits to learn more about and consider donating to - in time or in dollars!

The Nora Project
Co-founded by an educator and the parents of a child with disabilities, The Nora Project aims to normalize difference, demystify disability, and promote meaningful connections between students and their peers with disabilities. We do this through a suite of programs that teach empathy, inclusive beliefs and behaviors, disability awareness, storytelling, accessibility and innovation, and advocacy.

GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. Together we can transform our nation's schools into a safe and affirming environment all youth deserve.

HEROS is a working group of students, parents, teachers, and neighbors who self-organized in early 2018. Our aim (and our name) is Healing Everyday Racism in Our Schools (HEROS). We believe that such healing is possible if we join together, listen to one another, and take bold, courageous action that centers the lives of those who experience racism on a daily basis. HEROS currently does not take monetary donations, please consider donating your time to this New Trier based community group. 

The Surge Institute
The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment, advancement, growth, and achievement of youth and communities of color. We do this by educating and elevating leaders of color, preparing them to transform urban education and expand the opportunities for our youth. The Surge Fellowship is the signature program of the Surge Institute and serves as a best-in-class, cohort-based experience that unites, accelerates, and empowers emerging leaders of color in education. It is a key facet of our growing movement to better serve the communities too often ignored due to a lack of leadership that understands their needs.
Who We Are
The DEB Committee was created in 2019 to encourage richer dialogues and augmented programming around diversity, equity, and belonging in our school community. The committee is made up of parents, faculty, administration, socio-emotional learning team leads, and a school board member representative. This unique collaboration amongst school and community stakeholders allows for diverse perspectives on the committee and in the schoolhouse.
The Joseph Sears School DEB Committee
Kate Donegan, Superintendent,
Stephanie Helfand, Principal,
Mia Sachs, School Board Liaison,
Rebecca Quigley, Parent Lead/HEROS
Shawn Bard, JSSPVA

Faculty/Staff Committee Members
Nancy Economou, Social Worker
Hilary Harvey, Social-Emotional Learning Facilitator
Bill Gordon, Vocal Music Teacher
Gabriella Noyes, Social Worker 

Parent Committee Members:
Kathy Ambrosino, Marjorie Bransfield, Tanya Brown, Sarah Czepiel, Analia Elizalde,
Adrienne Eynon, Steve Fifita, Brittany Gottschall, Katalina Groh, Joe Guarino, Anjali Kase,
Varsha Kaura, Omar Khalaf, Radhika Maheshwari, Anaga Maira,
Sumita Mehta, Vanessa Menton, Steve Mugg, Amisha Muthialu, Joanna Naftali, 
Kyra Nelson, Erin Paul, Kristin Pilant, Janet Scholl, Meredith Sullivan
Interested in joining the DEB Committee? Please fill out the following form and a committee chairperson will reach out with more information.
The Joseph Sears School Diversity, Equity, Belonging Committee
542 Abbotsford Road, Kenilworth, IL, 60043
School Office: 847-256-5006