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REAL (Racial Equity and Learning) is a Northampton Education Foundation funded project that brings together NPS teachers, staff, students, and caregivers who are committed to developing an anti-racist school district. Those of us involved seek to deepen our understanding of how race and racism operate in Northampton public schools, and to work together and across our community to create a district that actively opposes racism and promotes racial equity.

We are committed to doing the hard, messy, and necessary work of digging into how the domination of whiteness shapes the foundation of the educational system (and other systems) in the U.S. We seek to redistribute power—to de-center white experiences in our schools and center the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

Part of the NPS community? Share our commitment to an anti-racist school culture? Join our group—and spread the word!

Current Work

There are presently three work groups up and running (see below). If you’re part of NPS, you’re welcome to join any/all, whether or not you’ve been to a REAL meeting.

We know the challenges are immense for so many right now. The NPS Community Resource Network Subcommittee, which meets regularly, is committed to working collectively with the district, in solidarity with NPS youth and families, to understand and help address the needs of families during and beyond remote learning. While REAL generally focuses on race equity, this subcommittee aims to support equity across the board, including with regard to class and ability. Contact Jenny Bender at jennybinhbender@gmail.com with interest.

The Digital Subcommittee focuses on maintaining and updating this website and REAL’s FB and Instagram pages. Contact Kristen Elde at elde.kristen@gmail.com and Deborah Keisch at deborahmdk2@gmail.com with interest.

The Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist (ABAR) Curriculum Group is a spin-off of REAL and is made up of educators, caregivers, and community members who are committed to moving forward the ideas, goals, and practices of ABAR education in our district. If you’re interested in learning more about the group and/or would like the agenda and zoom link for the next meeting, email Tiffany Jewell at tiffany@anti-biasmontessori.com or Sarah King at sarahsingerking@gmail.com.

The following groups will begin meeting in November:

Story Sharing Exhibit Subcommittee
During the 2019/20 school year, Joseph Krupczynski, an architect and designer with expertise in public exhibition/installations that inspire community conversations around identity, worked with REAL and the JFK Students of Color Alliance (SOCA) to build an interactive mobile exhibition drawing from stories shared by people in the district about their experiences with race, racism, and whiteness. The intention: to help guide school community conversations about race and racism. Because the exhibition (which was planned for May 2020) was central to REAL’s 2019/20 work and would have included in-person engagement, in March 2020 we chose to take the NEF up on its offer to defer grants until the 2020/21 academic year in response to the COVID-19 school closure. We’re excited to pick back up with and reimagine the presentation of this important work in the year ahead.

Restorative Justice Subcommittee
In 2019/20, REAL consulted on the district’s new code of conduct, offering guidance and expertise on the potential adoption of a restorative justice approach to resolving conflict in our schools. In 2020/21, REAL will continue to offer support and emphasize district accountability in following through on its expressed commitment to restorative practices.

Conversation Group Subcommittee 
REAL has hosted several conversation groups over the past couple of years, with participants reading a short text or watching video to spark facilitated discussion about the impacts of race, racism, and whiteness. This group plans to host regular gatherings during the school year, bringing together caregivers, faculty and staff, and students for candid conversations on these topics.