Equity and Inclusion
We define equity as the concept of giving each individual what is needed to succeed within our global society. Cultural studies demonstrate that students need to feel identity-safe within educational settings in order to experience success. Identity-safe spaces affirm the strengths of students and allow for them to be their authentic selves within an inclusive environment. Given that research, assessment data, and qualitative studies convey that identity-safety significantly influences teaching and learning, student diversity challenges us to explore ways to bridge cultural differences and devise responsive practices that affirm and accept the identities of each learner. Each student deserves a school where educators teach inclusively and dismantle barriers that prohibit students from their authentic selves.
Letter from Principal Rob Huesing:
Dated: June 15, 2020
Students, parents, families, and staff of Riverside Junior High,
This letter is long overdue. I apologize for the time it has taken to send; I have been struggling to find the right words to say. Honestly, I have a fear that in my ignorance I may mis-speak or that my words be misconstrued by those I am attempting to comfort and support. Yet I feel I cannot delay it further.
Three years ago, after Charlottesville, I made a special morning announcement to the students and staff in which I said, in part, “The acts of white-supremacy and racism that took place this past weekend in Virginia have no place at Riverside. I am saddened that there are Americans who feel this way. Yet, I am hopeful that Golden Hawks will rise above and accept, appreciate, and celebrate all of our differences.” While that is still true, I feel it is short-sighted. I have come to believe that being nice, accepting others, and celebrating differences, while still important, are not enough to dismantle inequitable and racist systems that oppress blacks and indigenous people of color.
Your children are precious to me. It is my desire to make Riverside the best place it can be for all students to grow, to thrive, to love, and to be loved. Yet, as I told one of my teachers when I hired her, “we have work to do” when it comes to making Riverside an equitable place for students. As I have continued to learn, however, I would add to that statement that we also have work to do in making Riverside an anti-racist place for students, staff, and families. Part of this work has included being intentional through the hiring process and selection of students in the Student Advisory Committee at Riverside. The latter of these is a group of students who are assembled to be the voice of students as we work to make systemic changes and improve the climate and culture at Riverside. We have been very intentional to include multiple races, religions, academic abilities, and orientations represented in that student group.
The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the past months, once again have shone the bright light for the need of systemic reform. One of those systems that needs reform is the educational system. Because Riverside is part of the flawed system, we are not without blemish, yet we continually strive to do better. This upcoming school year, we will continue addressing equity issues and racism with our staff, albeit with a more acute lens. With the help of our building equity coaches, teacher leaders, and administration, the Riverside Staff will be learning more about privilege, implicit biases, and how we as educators can be anti-racists both in our work as well as in our daily lives. Our goal is to learn and to equip ourselves so that we can be better humans, and more importantly so that we can be the educators we need to be to truly serve all of our students. Further, it is our goal to help our students amplify their voices in their calls for justice and equity. As we determine the specific actions we will be taking, we will update the RJH Equity & Inclusion Page (Click for link
) to keep you abreast of our work and so that we can be held accountable for that work.
As we work to improve, though, we need your help. Bluntly, we are a majority white staff who work in a system and society created for our “success”. As a result, we may not always recognize when policies or procedures are founded in racism and inequity. I implore you to contact me and share when we fall short. If we don’t know when we’ve mis-stepped, we cannot make a new and better path forward. I can be reached via email at Principal Rob Huesing
, or via telephone at 317.915.4280, ext 6137. We do not have all the answers, and we are bound to make mistakes in this process, yet we are committed to continuing our learning and improving our school. Furthermore, I am committed to leading the staff and students to make Riverside a safe place for your children to learn, grow, and thrive. Thank you for your time.
For more information on our District Equity and Inclusion work, CLICK HERE
RJH Building Equity Coach