MUSD Executive Director of Inclusive Services for All Learners Mary Jude Doerpinghaus was among a distinguished panel for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 8’s Spring Leadership Forum: Leading with Equity on March 7.
Other panelists were: Vern Caruz, Elementary Principal at Stipe Elementary, Oak Grove SD; Roxane Fuentes, Ed.D, Superintendent, Berryessa USD; and Jamal Splane, Ph.D, Director, School Culture & Climate/C&I at Los Gatos-Saratoga UHSD.
The panel focused on:
“While my background has centered around special education, my career has always focused on empowering staff and families to partner as ‘one team’ that focuses on assets and belief in the potential of each and every child each and every day,” Doerpinghaus shared.
Director Splane noted: "This event brought administrators together in fellowship, solidarity, and with a focus on addressing the educational and opportunity gaps that have increased recently for our students of color and from marginalized communities. Our students continue to benefit from these types of events."
The panel shared various personal definitions but all centered around how equity in education means that each child receives what they need to develop their full academic, social and emotional potential.
“As leaders we have to remove barriers to disrupt inequitable practices, look at our own biases and privilege and to create school environments that are conducive to equally high outcomes for all of our learners, especially those that are marginalized,” Doerpinghaus added. “Being an equity champion requires us to be self-aware and to lead through courageous conversations with an open mind and heart.”
Berryessa USD Superintendent Fuentes agreed: “Equity in education aims to create a level playing field for all children by supporting those who need it most. It requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success.”
Doerpinghaus shared with audience members that educators need to know their students and their personal stories, and understand what assets they bring to us daily. “Once we discover these, we can cultivate and build upon their unique gifts, talents and interests to develop areas of challenge and to create an environment that better supports them and their needs,” she explained.
Supt. Fuentes again echoed those sentiments: “We need to create spaces for our school and district leaders to understand and dialogue about the unique challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students so that they can best support their teams in providing additional supports and resources to help students overcome those barriers.”
Building equitable, inclusive and respectful communities is not a "one shot deal or something that happens overnight,” Doerpinghaus concluded. “We need to weave this work into our daily lives and it takes time to cultivate a community that holistically values the diversity and unique gifts and lived experiences of our people.”
“Much has been documented--and rightly so--about the post-pandemic need to ensure students and teachers are receiving adequate support to function effectively in schools,” Splane added. “Support for school leaders should also be a part of this conversation. ACSA Region 8 understands this and continues to be on the forefront of these efforts.”
The diverse panel included perspectives on cultural inclusion, recognizing our collective histories, valuing the wisdom of our ancestors and indigenous peoples, and ensuring that our students see themselves in what they learn.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.