HATHORNE – Essex Tech has received a $50,000 grant to strengthen the School’s efforts to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.
The award comes from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Hate Crimes Prevention Grant, and seeks to assist students in their academic success and future careers by creating a positive educational atmosphere.
“Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment, and to ensure that every student is treated with dignity and respect,” Superintendent Heidi Riccio said. “This grant will help us strengthen and expand our programs, and help staff and students reflect on what we want Essex Tech’s culture to truly reflect.”
The District has undertaken numerous initiatives in recent years.
• Adopting application policies and activities that ensure equitable access to all. This included professional development with Culture 7, an organization that helps develop cultural competence, and to increase awareness related to implicit bias in interactions and communications with students and caregivers.
• Ensuring Spanish and Portuguese translators are on site for all middle school interview sessions, and ensuring that materials used at the community-based applicant and parent information sessions are available in Spanish and Portuguese
• Reviewing curriculum across all disciplines to identify implicit bias, and to revamp units where necessary
• Adding new courses, such as a Genocide Studies elective that raises awareness of inequality throughout the 20th century
• Hiring a full-time bilingual parent liaison, with extended hours for evening community outreach efforts
• Increasing mental health supports that are available for students given the increased stress students are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic
• Working with Six Seconds, which is helping the administration to research and teach the skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) to enable individuals, teams, and the school and communities to flourish
• Creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Team, which is working with Culture 7 to develop strategies to address racism, bias, and homophobic behaviors
• Supporting a number of recognition programs including National Hispanic Heritage Month, World Hijab Day, Black History Month/Martin Luther King Day, a National Day of Silence to support LGBTQ+ rights, and a Black Lives Matter social media platform movement
• Kindness Week, during which students and staff commit to acts of kindness as a way to promote cultural proficiency and shift the responsibility for ensuring that everyone supports each other in a commitment to service for others
“We are grateful to our staff for investing in this effort, and for doing the hard work that is necessary,” Superintendent Riccio said. “We also are grateful for our partnerships with the Danvers Police, the Danvers Human Rights and Inclusion Committee, and DanversCARES, each of which support the District as we work to reduce bias-motivated conduct.”