Where We Are, Where We Want to Go
In its uncompromising efforts to become a model 21st-century urban school district, the Everett Public Schools aspires to develop and retain a workforce and teaching corps that is both reflective of and as dynamic as our student population.
More than a quarter of our approximately 7,000 students are English Learners. More than 59 percent of our students are Hispanic, and 15 percent are African American. To best support all of our students, the EPS needs to attract culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse educators. To accomplish that, we need to establish the climate, supports, and systems that will make the EPS a rewarding and long-term destination for talented teachers in the Northeast.
The low percentage of diverse candidates in the teacher pipeline is a crisis, one for which there are no quick solutions. It demands a careful, collaborative, and formalized process aimed at sustained growth and ever increasing professional satisfaction among our valued staff.
Since the appointment of Priya Tahiliani as Superintendent in March of 2019, the EPS has begun this work with purpose and fervency. Highlights of the last 15 months include:
- The appointment of Cory McCarthy as the district’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer. Mr. McCarthy will be integral to conceiving and implementing practices that ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. He will help develop initiatives aimed at narrowing the gaps between our highest and lowest performing students. He will also play a central role in establishing the district’s diversity hiring and retention strategies and practices.
- The district’s participation in the Teacher Diversification Professional Learning Community, a comprehensive program that introduces educational leaders to proven recruitment, selection, and retention strategies. The program establishes timelines and benchmarks that will help the EPS continue to move this initiative forward. The Teacher Diversification Community is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and it is designed to help districts implement a plan in service of achievement and equitable outcomes for students with the assistance of the district’s administrators and staff.
- The hiring of a team of Family Liaisons who speak English and Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole and who are assigned to specific schools to provide direct assistance to families, staff, and students.
- Convening an Equity Task Force to make recommendations and build a universal lens that supports valued efforts to diversify staff across the district.
- The creation of a Community Engagement Manager position to boost our ability to connect with students, parents, families, city agencies, and community-based organizations, and to build a strong bridge between the voices of the community and the school district’s many teachers, staff members, and leaders, minimizing barriers of entry.
- The establishment of language-based Parent Advisory Councils. The English Learner Parent Advisory Councils (ELPACs) hold meetings in Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole, and the agendas are created by the officers based on the feedback of its members.
- The establishment of a diverse Central Office team that includes people of color in vital leadership positions, including Deputy Superintendent, Chief Financial Officer, Budget and Grants Director, Director of Human Resources, and Director of Guidance.
- A formal partnership with the Everett Haitian Community Center, which is providing enrichment classes to elementary students throughout the district.
- A dynamic and creative Black History Month program for Everett High School students. The schedule featured a Howard University Student Panel, a Black Educator Night, a Black Trailblazers Experience, and Black Author events featuring Candice Thibodeaux and Nyell Jeudy.
- An affiliation with City Year, a leader in helping boost student outcomes in under-resourced school districts, will have eight-member teams in each of our five K-8 school buildings. Everett is the first city other than Boston that City Year is partnering with in Eastern Massachusetts.
- A revamped hiring process that includes diverse interview panels and intentional and unbiased scoring rubrics.
As we consider what deliberate steps we can take to increase satisfaction among staff members, we will pay careful attention to and/or consider:
- Creating safe and collaborative spaces where staff can discuss shared experiences
- Developing a clear accountability system in which our teachers know who to go to when they have a question, concern, complaint, suggestion, etc.
- Hiring by cohorts, which eases transitions, fosters collegiality, and develops inherent support systems for our teachers
- Forming a mentoring system that helps all of our educators engage in and prepare our students for a multicultural society
- Pursuing grant and funding opportunities that allow for aggressive recruitment and retention, including tuition reimbursement and moving expenses
- Offering teacher-driven professional development and training that supports and enhances our vision statement, goals and core values
- Mentoring programs for paraprofessionals and substitute teachers
The statistics, research, and literature is clear: Students profoundly suffer when there is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in our teacher workforce. For the EPS, this means that our goals will not be fully met until we meaningfully confront and address this reality to best serve our student population.
To ignore this work is negligent. To embrace it is the opportunity of a lifetime for the leaders and educators of the Everett Public Schools and our community at large.