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Communities In Schools Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit

This past November, CIS Eastern PA’s Executive Vice President Mike McCorristin, Director of Operations Migdalia Garcia, and Site Coordinator Caleb Baukman attended the Communities In Schools national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit in Washington, D.C. Communities In Schools designed the summit to lift the voices and experiences of today’s youth and empower them to lead. The conference included a multitude of workshops and presentations focusing on inclusion. Part of the conference involved an awareness march for educational equity at the Lincoln Memorial, at which all able participants walked.

We asked Migdalia and Caleb a few questions about their experiences at the summit and how they will take what they learned with them to work in Eastern Pennsylvania.

What was your biggest takeaway from the summit?

Migdalia: It was most impactful to be surrounded by like-minded individuals passionate about providing educational equity to our students across the nation. We felt comfortable and welcomed in a way that allowed us to be our authentic selves, not what other people want us to be, not a fraction of who we are. We were removed from judgment and stereotypes.

Caleb: My largest takeaway was that we have a roadmap, tools, and resources for doing work around creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive affiliate. It often feels as if we have to figure everything out on our own, but that is simply not the case. The national headquarters of Communities In Schools has been working hard to redefine how we think about educational equity. It was great seeing how other affiliates have made space for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion positions and worked to adjust how the affiliates operate. It was also great to meet like-minded individuals and learn about their unique roles in their states and at their individual sites.

Did you have a favorite/most interesting topic that was discussed?

Migdalia: My favorite was the “I See You” - Experience a Day in the Life of a CIS Student. It was a simulation exercise and a great way to share the honest life experiences of the students we serve. Participants were provided a “student,” walked through different scenarios, and selected the choices a student would make based on the options provided. Throughout the process, participants select “emotions” to carry along the way to demonstrate the baggage and worries students carry with them.

Caleb: My favorite topic/learning lab focused on unconditional positive regard with students, reinforcing our need to respect our students as human beings with free will and assume that they are doing their best.

How do you hope/plan to implement what you learned daily at Communities In Schools of Eastern PA?

Migdalia: I plan to share some of the slideshows and other information provided by others throughout the affiliate with my local colleagues. Learning Lab Facilitator Gwyn Williams, COO for Community In Schools of Palm Beach County, provided handouts and PowerPoints for affiliates to replicate and reuse. This will be a wonderful opportunity to transfer the knowledge from her lab, “Get Uncomfortable and Lean into Facilitating Critical Conversations.”

Caleb: By continuing to fight for DEI no matter where the opposition appears. Our students deserve this from us. I have also already used an empathy exercise I learned from the summit with students, which proved successful.

Tell us a little more about the educational equity march and what it meant to you.

Migdalia: This was an inspiring activity demonstrating how individual affiliates could be supported in participating in similar activities. Being part of a celebration at the Capitol gave us a sense that we are part of the solution toward justice and systemic change in our education system.

Anything else you want to add?

Migdalia: One very powerful experience for me was listening to Communities In Schools’ national leaders discuss the importance of being an equitable and inclusive organization.

Thank you to Communities in Schools for hosting such a powerful and informational summit. It was a wonderful experience to meet friends working towards the same goals as us from all over the nation. We look forward to implementing the new ideas and sharing updates.



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