Winooski School District has kicked off year three of their partnership with UP for Learning to help implement the demands put forward in the spring of 2020 by the Winooski Students for Antiracism. Each of the six Action Teams is composed of youth, staff, community members, and caregivers, and a youth and adult co-facilitate their monthly meetings. The Antiracism Steering Committee, also made up of a representative group, provides support for the teams and helps them communicate their progress to the larger Winooski community.
One highlight from the teams’ work this fall includes the presentation at a community dinner on October 26th by The New Teacher Project (TNTP), who shared their findings from a survey and interviews conducted with staff and community members during the last year. The consulting agency was brought in by members of Action Team Two, which is focused on hiring and retaining faculty of color at Winooski School. Assisted by TNTP, the team is using the data to make recommendations on how to create a school environment in which each staff member and student feels a strong sense of belonging. Another highlight has been the work of Action Team One, which is focused on forming a Racial Truth and Reconciliation Committee at Winooski School. In May, the team will welcome eight members of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) to Winooski. Founded in 2005, RJOY works from an anti-racist, anti-bias lens to promote institutional shifts toward restorative approaches in schools, communities, and the juvenile justice system. The California-based organization will facilitate ten listening circles for representative groups from the school, including BIPOC staff, student organizations, alumni, and the school board. They will then look at their findings from these conversations, and present recommendations on how to integrate restorative practices into the school community.
Each Action Team team also has a budget to use for hosting events, bringing in outside experts, and providing refreshments and resources at their meetings. In the coming months, they will be holding dialogues to share information and solicit feedback from community members, as well as to set the stage for RJOY’s visit in the spring. It is so exciting to see this work at Winooski continue, and to see more and more youth joining the Steering Committee and the Action Teams. They offer invaluable insights and perspectives, and we couldn’t do it without them! For more information about the recent efforts of the ARSC, check out page seven of the December issue of the Winooski Newsletter.
By Christie Howell