DIVERSITY EQUITY COMMITTEE
WSESU/WSESD OFFICE OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
WSESU/WSESD Diversity Equity Committee is comprised of teacher leaders from each school and other community members. The district-wide committee meets twice a month, and teacher leaders facilitate staff meetings at their schools once a month focused on issues of equity and social justice.
DEC COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Mikaela Simms has been working as WSESU Diversity Coordinator for over 10 years. She arrived in Vermont by way of the San Francisco Bay Area and Guinea West Africa; where She taught middle school with an emphasis on Social Justice. In her current role she emphasizes humanizing every situation and making connections across disciplines and other dividing lines. “Our job as educators is to be curious about every student and colleague. It is through deep inquiry that we learn about ourselves and the equitable world we wish build.”
My career in education began 30 years ago in environmental education. I brought my passion for environmental issues into the classroom and became a middle school science teacher. I am currently an instructional coach at BAMS after teaching science here for 23 years. As a teacher, my goal is to help students learn more about how the world works and to be responsible citizens.
As the school counselor at Academy School I get to wear many hats. I love the work we do on the DEC because it aligns so closely with my personal philosophy as a school counselor, and also because themes of equity, empathy, inclusion, and joy run deep in our DEC work and our work as elementary educators. I love the constant learning that happens as a member of this committee, and getting to share what I’ve learned with students, families, and colleagues.
I recently transitioned to academic support after teaching upper elementary grades for several years. I believe in creating learning spaces where all students feel safe and seen. When students find their voices, they become changemakers in our world. Relationships and community are at the heart of my teaching practice. When not at school, I love to grow vegetables, read novels with a cat on my lap, and wander in the woods. I am also learning trapeze, a practice which reminds me that learning new things is thrilling, and that scary things won’t always feel scary.
I teach sixth grade at Academy School. We build a classroom culture of respect, responsibility, and reasonable risks. I focus on extending the classroom to the land and people around us.
This is my first year as a Diversity and Equity Teacher Leader, after joining GCS and its Diversity and Equity Committee last year. I taught 2nd-4th grades for seven years before transitioning to an academic support role this year. I am passionate about weaving topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the subjects, keeping in mind the importance of making these themes accessible and relevant to young learners through a focus on building relevant background knowledge, empathy for others, and a belief in the power of their thoughts, words, and actions.
Shannon Kelly (she/her) is Equity and Social Justice Coach for grades K-8. Having served as a Diversity Teacher Leader for the last few years, Shannon is looking forward to this opportunity to support staff and students in our district’s ongoing work toward equity and social justice.
This is my first year as a Diversity and Equity Teacher Leader. As a teacher of multilingual students, this year at Oak Grove and Green Street schools, I work hard to support the English language development of students from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds. I am committed to fostering a positive self-identity and strong sense of belonging for all students.
I am a Mathematics Teacher with a passion for art. I grew up in a variety of diverse communities along the East Coast, and transitioned gender-wise in early high school. Our community and those human interactions are the most important parts of life, and so I apply myself to improving these as best I can. I have been a teacher leader for the district since Spring 2022.
I teach social studies to 7th & 8th graders, and am passionate about incorporating social justice into our work together, including telling stories about history that are not always told. Over the years I have lived and traveled in a number of other countries. I am a parent, and have also worked in early childhood education. I’ve been teaching at BAMS since 2010, and am also involved in local community activities such as women’s chorus and parenting for social justice groups.
I’m the school counselor at Dummerston School, and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with all of our students in grades Pre-K through eighth grade. Much of my work with students focuses on building empathy, citizenship, and an understanding of social justice.
I’ve been a librarian at BAMS and BUHS for the last 23 years. I became a Diversity and Equity Teacher Leader three years ago. My role as a librarian has given me the ability to form lasting relationships with students and to help them see themselves and their peers represented positively in literature. I love to bake and to make art out of repurposed materials. I am still looking for the perfect brownie recipe.
Mike Szostak is a restorative justice and practices educator, consultant, and mediator. After a 30-year career in corporate America, he has spent the last 20 years in the not-for-profit and public school sectors doing restorative work. This has involved working with: homeless families, people reentering our community from prison, people referred by our court system, teenagers coming to a drop-in center for help, and most recently, kids trying to adjust to middle school and high school environments. “Restorative work means finding ways to repair and build healthy relationships among individuals and with our communities. This provides the foundation for a more just, inclusive, and nurturing environment for everyone and a pathway to address income, gender, racial, and other inequities that plague us.”
I teach first grade at Oak Grove with a passion for connecting students to the social, intellectual, and natural worlds around them. We immerse ourselves in the woods weekly and explore the similarities and differences between ourselves and our class, school, and outside communities. I am committed to supporting teachers and parents in bringing opportunities to explore social justice to our entire school.
I’ve been the Academy School librarian since 2007. Before becoming a Diversity and Equity Teacher Leader in 2017 I served on the District-level Diversity and Equity Committee. As the school librarian I have the pleasure of teaching every student weekly.It’s an incredible position to have in an elementary school, knowing a person from the age of five for seven years.
I believe every learner deserves to see themselves frequently reflected in school literature. Maintaining a diverse book collection will always be my priority. Following on that, I love promoting and sharing library resources to inspire my colleagues to use them in their classroom curriculum.
I began my career as an art educator in the Boston area. I have been teaching art at Vernon Elementary School since 2016. One of the many things I appreciate about art viewing and art making is its ability to provide insight into the world, a community, an individual and an idea. I strive to offer students and colleagues a place to be seen, heard, respected and celebrated through art and beyond.
I taught in primary grade classrooms for fifteen years before transitioning to academic support. I am passionate about early childhood and elementary education and love finding ways to make social justice learning accessible to even our youngest students.
I am the site supervisor at Canal Street Head Start as well as the lead teacher for the Owls preschool classroom. I believe that young children should learn from their play environment. I love when preschoolers figure out a solution to a problem that they encounter and their proverbial “light bulb” comes on. During my free time I enjoy gardening, spending time with family, and taking adventures.