Statement: School board proud of effort to fight racism: ‘We know that our work has just begun’

Statement%3A+School+board+proud+of+effort+to+fight+racism%3A+%27We+know+that+our+work+has+just+begun%27

Editor’s note: This statement was provided by the Pelham Union Free School District.

Dear Community,

As I stood in Wolf’s Lane Park at the vigil to honor the brutal murder of George Floyd on Monday night,  I was overcome with so many emotions. Surrounded by friends, neighbors, fellow board members, and students, I felt the anguish that this pandemic and the raw emotions George Floyd’s death has reinvigorated is causing all of us. I also felt such pride for our Pelham community. I was reminded of the amazing youth leaders we have in our midst. How amazing that our students pulled together such a loving and peaceful community vigil in less than a day? As I looked around I felt the power and love of community-the power and love of our community.

Many of you know that one of the District’s main strategic goals is to create a community of cultural competence. By aligning our recruitment, hiring, and training practices to build a more diverse and culturally proficient staff and engaging in the cohort model of cultural proficiency training, we have emphasized these values with our teachers, administrators and staff. We have also focused on student-centered initiatives, which include the Building Bridges program and diversity book bags in our elementary schools, and the middle school anti-bullying week and ‘No Place for Hate’ program. These are just a few of the many examples where this work is happening throughout the District in a meaningful way.

George Floyd’s brutal killing serves as yet another reminder that the work of cultural competence is hard and it involves a willingness to have the difficult discussions involved in creating a more culturally competent environment. The work is messy at times and it can leave people feeling vulnerable. It is also an ongoing process. While our board is proud of the district for making these important efforts a priority, we know that our work has just begun.

We need to use the momentum of the past week to serve as a catalyst; to do a better job of listening to the voices of people who feel marginalized, to continue to have discussions about racial inequities in our homes and at school, to work as a community, within and beyond the school walls, and to harness the energy we are feeling now to make lasting and sustainable changes to racial injustices in our world.

During the most challenging of times, Pelham always demonstrates its ability to rally together as one, to support our neighbors and when we join together, we show that we can make quite an impact. Now should be no different.

Sincerely,

Jessica DeDomenico on Behalf of the Board of Education