Tracie Noriega, Sheila Walters and Diego Ochoa, presidents of ACSA Regions 6, 8 and 5 respectively.
Equity event puts students at the center
Regions 5, 6 and 8 unite to hold first ever Bay Area Equity Symposium
March 6, 2023
The first annual Bay Area Equity Symposium was held Feb. 17-18 at the Ameswell Hotel in Mountain View. A collaboration between the leadership of ACSA Regions 5, 6 and 8, the conference attracted more than 100 attendees who brought excitement, joy and positive energy to the symposium. “Keeping Students at the Center” was the conference theme and the charge of every attendee.
Region 6 President and Equity Committee member Tracie Noriega opened the meeting with qi gong exercises and shared some words from a letter she wrote to colleagues, “Leading for Justice, a Work of ‘Heart.’” Friday’s Keynote Speaker was G.T. Reyes, professor at CSU East Bay, who inspired attendees with his talk on “Takin’ WOKE Back.” His message assured leaders that we are a community doing this hard work together. It requires constant critical dialogue and listening, critical reflection, critical action, and critical knowledge, which then informs our praxis as leaders for change.
Region 8 President Sheila Walters welcomed attendees on Saturday morning before introducing Daryl Camp, who moderated a student panel featuring high schoolers from the three regions. Camp asked the panel about their school experiences, including describing a “safe” space, when they felt empowered, and any advice they would like to share. A student said they wanted to see themselves in the curriculum, like in Ethnic Studies classes. Another noted that they appreciated when adults could see their potential and continued encouraging them. A student discussed not being fake and really believing in what you are saying. They advise having “personal connections over a PowerPoint.”
“The student panel was something that will forever impact the way I respond to students,” said Charity Hastings, an attendee from Region 6, reflecting on her experience.
The student panel set the tone for the day’s events, which included 15 sessions for attendees to choose from, each presented by equity champions from within regions 5, 6 and 8. The planning committee received over 30 proposals.
ACSA President-elect Parvin Ahmadi also addressed attendees and expressed excitement about the journey that ACSA is currently on with several firsts, including the fact that she will be the first ACSA president who is an immigrant, English learner and of Iranian descent.
Superintendent Ahmadi also introduced lunchtime keynote speaker Tyson Amir, author of “Black Boy Poems” and consultant to districts in creating culturally responsive curriculum, who led attendees through a history lesson on education in the U.S. He stated that it is vital for educators to know the history of the system we work in for us to take action.
The closing keynote address was by leader and healer Tovi Scruggs-Hussein, who spoke on “Praxis of Leadership DO-ing to Leadership BE-ing.”
“Tovi Scruggs-Hussein created a space where we shared our stories growing up as students and/or as educators within inequitable systems,” said Victor Tam from Region 5. “I learned that while the details of our stories may have been unique, our experiences were, far too often, painfully common. She reminded us of the importance of centering ourselves around healing to address inequity more effectively.”
Region 5 President Diego Ochoa gave closing remarks by thanking attendees and sharing that Region 5 would take the lead for next year’s Bay Area Equity Symposium. He also asked everyone to reflect on the Mexican saying “Si quiere conocer Ines, debe vivir con ella un mes.” This saying reiterates the student panel’s message: If we are really about them (the students), we will genuinely and authentically get to know them.
“I’m so grateful for the meaningful conversations with peers and educational leaders,” said attendee Katie Schroeder of Region 8. “These topics don’t get the time and attention they deserve in our busy days, so having this symposium felt regenerative, healing and thought-provoking for where we go from here.”
Friday’s Keynote Speaker G.T. Reyes, professor at CSU East Bay, inspired attendees with his talk on “Takin’ WOKE Back.”
Daryl Camp moderated a student panel featuring high schoolers from the three regions.
Tracie Noriega, Diego Ochoa, ACSA President-Elect Parvin Ahmadi and Victor Tam.
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