race, diversity & School CulTure

How can we best ensure diversity throughout our school including leadership and governance? How does school culture reflect diversity? What about schools that choose self esteem via cultural identity rather than diversity?

monday, november 18
Tuesday, november 19
monday, november 18

Title: Social Justice Empowerment Through Ethnic Studies

School/Organization: University of New Mexico

Time: 9:05-9:55am

Presenter(s): Emily Castillo; Nancy López

Description: What was learned when ethnic studies action research was implemented in a large public school district in New Mexico? This workshop describes how studying racial and other interconnected discrimination helped focus students, teachers, schools and community members toward social justice action. Participants will learn about effects of and ways to understand and address multi-dimensional discrimination (e.g. race and sexual orientation). Participants will interact during the workshop around implementing ethnic studies in their school and community settings.


Nancy López is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. She directs and co- founded the Institute for the Study of “Race” & Social Justice. Dr. López has been named the Inaugural Academic Leadership Academy (ALA) Faculty Fellow, UNM Division for Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Dr. López is Secretary-Elect of the American Sociological Association (ASA).


Emily Castillo is a Sociology PhD student whose research re-centers youth of color and their educational experiences - primarily the ways in which current mainstream education models affect them. Using Freirean pedagogical approaches and YPAR methods, she aims to understand these inequities and undo the hierarchical structures of academic research.

Title: Bringing a Race and Equity Lens to the Charter School Boardroom

School/Organization: Education Board Partners

Time: 10:00-10:05am

Presenter(s): Debbie Lister

Description: School based staff at almost every level are engaging in conversations on diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI). The one place it isn’t happening is in the boardroom. Boards make critical decisions that impact schools and students. Focusing on equity informs who is on a board, who they do business with, and how a board reviews academic data and engages families. Participants attending this session will discuss the intersections of DEI and Governance and walk away with concrete strategies to practice equity-centered governance. 


Debbie Lister, Chief Transformation Officer, coaches, trains and consults with boards across the country concentrating on good governance, equity and quality schools. She earned a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Florida, a master’s from American University and served on a public charter school board in DC.

Title: Diversity and Cultural Affirmation Charter Schools: Different Paths to the Same Goal

School/Organization: Diverse Charter Schools Coalition 

Time: 10:55-11:45am

Presenter(s): Lauren Bryant; Dave Bryson; Richard Lee; Anpao Duta Flying Earth

Description: Charter schools provide quality school choices for families. Many schools operate in neighborhoods highly segregated by race/income and serve predominantly Black/Brown students. There is also an increasing number of charters that are "diverse-by-design." These schools serve more racially/economically diverse populations and seek to be an integrated school community. Hear a thoughtful discussion from organizations that support both approaches and their member school leaders on why they chose their model, how they approach their work, and why the emphasis is on AND rather than OR with these school approaches.


Lauren Bryant is the Director of the National Charter Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on supporting single-site charter school leaders of color. She has previously served in operational leadership roles for a variety of schools and education organizations.


Dave Bryson is the Deputy Director of Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Prior to that he was the Director of Operations of Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate, part of Uncommon Schools from 2012-2017.  Dave earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his M.Ed from Lesley University. Dave lives in Berkeley, CA where he equally enjoys hiking the hills and biking the flats.


Richard Lee is the Founding Principal of Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside, NY, a school that is as diverse as the Borough of Queens. Previously, Richard was the Division Coordinator for seven years for grades 1–4 at The Bank Street School for Children. Richard has organized, led and presented in various workshop including NYSAIS, DOE and NAIS.


Anpao Duta Flying Earth is a dedicated education and Native communities advocate, serving as Executive Director at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) as well as Executive Director at NISN. Duta grew up on Standing Rock Reservation in South and North Dakota. He is a third-generation college graduate of Cornell University and the University of New Mexico.

Title: Culturally Responsive Teaching and Institutionalized Racism

School/Organization: The Arts & College Preparatory Academy

Time: 11:50am-12:05pm

Presenter(s): Bradley Severt

Description: Between grading, lesson planning, tracking and analyzing data, student and self-evaluations, behavioral meetings and much more, working against institutionalized racism may seem like too much to put on the shoulders of a classroom teacher. However, it is my belief that there are simple yet effective adjustments that will allow you to battle institutionalized racism not only in your classroom but the school and community at large. In this presentation we will look at how content can be used to counter institutionalized racism and how we, as a community of educators, can empower students through the use of democratic values in the classroom.


Bradley Severt is a second-year teacher at the Arts & College Preparatory Academy in Columbus, Ohio where he teaches high school United States History and American Government. Bradley has a bachelor’s degree in integrated social studies and a master’s degree in education from the Ohio State University.

Title: Support Systems for Marginalized Students

School/Organization: The Arts & College Preparatory Academy

Time: 2:30-3:15pm

Presenter(s): Jennifer Ruff 

Description: This presentation will show a comprehensive approach to supporting and counseling students of diverse backgrounds; in particular those who come from marginalized groups.


Jennifer Ruff received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Purdue University in 2005, and a master’s degree in School Counseling from The Ohio State University in 2013.  She has been a school counselor at The Arts & College Preparatory Academy (ACPA) for the past 5 years.

Title: Changing a Generation

School/Organization: Indio High

Time: 3:20-4:05pm

Presenter(s): Rudy Ramirez

Description: How does a high school systematically affect change? In this session, attendees will learn how one high school increased its graduation rate from 69.1% to 96% and decreased its dropout rate from 34.2% to just 2.9%. Participants will discuss how leadership principles, a formal change process, and intentional curriculum can transform schools into meaningful sites of growth for the next generation.

Rudy Ramirez worked as Principal of Indio High for 24 years before retiring. He has 41 years of experience working in education, and is credited with turning Indio High School from “Scary to Ranked” (Desert Sun Newspaper, May 27, 2016).

Title: Leading for Equity with Humility as a White School Leader

School/Organization: Highline Academy

Time: 4:10-4:55pm

Presenter(s): Christine Ferris; Franklin Headly; Stephen Falla Riff; Carol Bowar

Moderator: Trina Maull

Description: We believe white people have to take responsibility for ending racism in this country. However, there is no blueprint for doing so, and issues like white fragility make it difficult to even talk about racism. As Executive Directors and/or principals of charter schools and white people, we have been working to create schools where staff are actively growing as anti-racist educators. This is hard work and can be challenged by assumptions about "doing it right or not doing it at all." In this panel discussion, we will identify the journeys that led us to prioritize this work as white school leaders, and talk openly about what has and hasn’t worked so well in our own schools. Trina Maull, an African-American leader, will moderate the discussion. Attendees will discuss their beliefs about the responsibilities of white leaders in public charter schools and receive valuable resources for making changes in their own contexts.


Carol Bowar is the Executive Director of Girls Athletic Leadership Schools (6-12) and The Boys School of Denver (6-8). She initially was a founding board member for GALS.  In her 30 years’ experience, she has worked in charter schools, higher education, international leadership programs, policy, youth development, girl and women issues, and foundations.  Carol has a MA in Education Policy and Practice.


Christine Ferris is the executive director of Highline Academy Charter Schools in Denver, a two school network serving a diverse community of students. She is a veteran educator who has worked in public, private, and charter schools since 1989.


Franklin Headley is the founder of VOICE Charter School in New York.  He has received the Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Award, the Robert Kennedy Urban Educator of the Year, and the Cahn Fellowship at Teachers College.

Stephen Falla Riff is the executive director of the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in New York and is an attorney specializing in nonprofit organization and education law.

Trina Maull is the Director of Human Resources and Talent at the Colorado League of Charter Schools. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at University of Louisville and her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has over 20 years in HR and is a Certified Gallup StrengthsFinder Coach.

Tuesday, november 19

Title: Building District-Charter Collaboration to Advance Equity for All

School/Organization: New York City Department of Education, District-Charter Collaborative

Time: 9:35-10:25am 

Name of presenter(s): Michael Stoll; Harold Turner; Amanda Morton; Nifemi Ogunsuyi 

Description: At the District-Charter Collaborative, we strive to facilitate collaboration between district and charter schools with the goals of improving instructional practices and student outcomes while building schools’ capacity to solve their own problems of practice and eliminate disparities along the lines of race. In this session, you will hear from the DCC Director and 3 school leaders about their experiences, then have the opportunity to work collaboratively with them to consider how to be a leader for racial equity in your own school community.


Mike Stoll is the Director of the District-Charter Collaborative (DCC), an initiative of the New York City Department of Education. Prior to joining DCC, Mike was a teacher/coach/coordinator at three different schools in the South Bronx: the Highbridge Green School, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, and I.S. 162.

Harold J. Turner is the middle school principal of PAVE Academy Charter School in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He started his career in education as an ELA & History teacher in Newark, NJ. After teaching, he transitioned to the Dean of Humanities role at PAVE Academy. Most recently, he graduated from Teachers College with a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Teaching Leadership.

Amanda Morton is the Principal at New Dawn Charter High School. She brings 20+ years of classroom and leadership experience ranging from kindergarten to high school. Amanda has received recognition as a Master Teacher, has been a National Council of Teachers of Mathematics member, and has experience as a Curriculum Developer and Coordinator, Math Coordinator, Teacher Leader and Mentor Teacher.


Nifemi Ogunsuyi is Master Teacher at The Dr. Betty Shabazz School in Brooklyn. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University and a Masters degree in Childhood Education and Special Education from St. Johns University. She is also currently completing a Masters degree in School District Leadership at City University of New York- Hunter College. She has had the honor to serve as the District Charter Collaborative School Team Facilitator, promoting Equity for All, as a commitment to closing the achievement gap in New York City schools.

Title: Moving Beyond Either Or: The Case for Diverse Charter Schools

School/Organization: Lafayette Preparatory Academy

Time: 10:30-11:20am

Presenter(s): Susan Marino

Description: Despite efforts to integrate schools in the city of St. Louis and so many urban areas, many schools remain racially and socioeconomically segregated. Research clearly demonstrates the profound benefits of diversity within schools, but how can charter school leaders build and maintain a diverse school? What are the challenges alongside the benefits? How can policy support or detract from charter schools’ efforts to build diverse schools? I will explore these topics as they make the case for moving beyond serving either one population or another, toward bringing together the diversity of our city and pursuing greater academic and social outcomes.


Susan Marino is the founding Head of School and Executive Director for Lafayette Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public charter school in St. Louis City. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lindenwood University, an Educational Specialist degree in leadership from Webster University, and is currently pursuing her Educational Doctorate.

Title: What if education reflected the needs of our communities?

School/Organization: NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN)

Time: 11:25am-12:15pm

Presenter(s): Anpao Duta Flying Earth; Maȟpíya Black Elk; Valerie Siow; Anai Pulido

Moderator: Jessica Helen Lopez

Description: What if our schools reflected the needs of our communities? In this panel presentation, leaders from the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) will discuss cultural diversity and what it means to celebrate and advocate for community across different schools. Topics will include decolonizing versus indigenizing education, the impact of socio-emotional learning on students, and how to develop meaningful community partnerships across different contexts.


Anpao Duta Flying Earth is a dedicated education and Native communities advocate, serving as Executive Director at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) as well as Executive Director at NISN. Duta grew up on Standing Rock Reservation in South and North Dakota. He is a third-generation college graduate of Cornell University and the University of New Mexico.


Maȟpíya Black Elk works with NISN as Community Director for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance of Albuquerque, an initiative that supports boys and young men of color by expanding a Social Emotional Learning Community of Practice to 3 different schools and four community organizations. He has recently worked at NACA as the program director for an initiative called the Hiyupo Alliance that focuses on holistic wellness and positive identity development.


Valerie Siow is Fellowship Director at NISN, where she supports tribal communities in New Mexico, Colorado and South Dakota to transform Indigenous education. She has thirteen years of experience as a classroom teacher, and has written and developed comprehensive curricula for Native Literature and Humanities.

Anai Pulido is the Program Coordinator for the Indigenous Educator Corps AmeriCorps program, where she finds other individuals that are passionate about serving and giving back to their Indigenous communities. Anai became the first person from both sides of her family to leave home at 18 to pursue a college education. She holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Spanish as well as a Master’s in Public Administration.


Jessica Helen Lopez is the City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate, Emeritus, an adjunct instructor with the University of New Mexico Chicana and Chicano Studies Department and Institute of American Indian Arts. Currently she is a team member of the NACA Inspired Schools Network in the area of communications, outreach and community support, as well as a long-time poetry teacher and educator with the Native American Community Academy.

Title: Integration as Innovation: How Charters Can Lead

School/Organization: Diverse Charter Schools Coalition; City Charter Schools

Time: 3:00-3:55pm

Presenter(s): Dave Bryson; Raul Alarcon

Description: Charter schools are schools of choice; they are currently being criticized for creating more segregated school systems because of the choices they provide. It’s undeniable that public schools are more segregated now than in recent memory, but the root cause is not charter schools. Hear a thoughtful discussion from school leaders who are actively/intentionally pursuing integration and diversity in their schools and how they’re reaching out to partner with others to do the same.


Dave Bryson is the Deputy Director of Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Prior to that he was the Director of Operations of Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate, part of Uncommon Schools from 2012-2017.  Dave earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his M.Ed from Lesley University. Dave lives in Berkeley, CA where he equally enjoys hiking the hills and biking the flats.  


Raul Alarcón is the founding principal of City Language Immersion Charter (CLIC), a dual language (Spanish/English) elementary school located in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles. Prior to founding CLIC Mr. Alarcón was an educator at the UCLA Lab School, a model school for dual-language immersion and constructivist teaching. He has been an educator for over 25 years and was instrumental in designing and running the bilingual program at the UCLA Lab School’s Learning in Two Languages (LTL) program.

#icss19 #indiecharters