Bangor School Dept. introduces new diversity initiative

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 11:45 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Fitting in at school isn’t always easy. The Bangor School Department is looking to change that.

Administrators announced a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging collaboration with the University of Maine at the James F. Doughty School Monday.

The goal - to inform decision-making for equitable outcomes - sounds simple. But how do they get there?

“The bulk of the course will be designed around having teachers work on curricular materials or professional development efforts with colleagues to increase a sense of belonging,” said UMaine Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Rebecca Buchanan.

Teachers from all Bangor schools will be attending UMaine-instructed courses all year long, featuring topics like diversity of thought, personal biases and identity.

By the end of the year, the department will have an equity audit and climate survey to gauge where things stand now, and what can be improved.

“I frequently see educators really concerned about doing the work right, giving the different populations that we frequently don’t focus on, justice,” said Bangor School Dept. Title IX/Affirmative Action Coordinator Dana Carver-Bialer. “Really empowering our educators to champion this work as just a part of what they do.”

The training establishes very clear goals for the program. Some might ask - why is now the right time for this, and what will it mean for students?

“It looks like being able to engage in tough conversations around the topics that one might not feel comfortable really digging into,” Carver-Bialer said. “It looks like moving from a place of tolerance, which I don’t think is good enough, to a place of celebration.”

“I’m sure there are different opinions on the work that we’re going to do, but I think at our hearts, we’re all educators,” James Tager, Bangor Superintendent of Schools. “We believe in students and the key word to me, is a sense of belonging. So, I don’t know why we would wait another day.”