'We value diverse voices': Durham Public Schools markets inclusive space to teachers

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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Durham Public Schools markets inclusive space to teachers amid national shortage.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- You can tell acceptance is key based on the books in a Pearsontown Elementary School classroom. It's a message not just for students, but teachers too.

"We value diverse voices. We value equity. We want to make sure everyone feels they have a place," said Dr. Alvera Lesane, Durham Public Schools Human Resources Assistant Superintendent.

The school district is marketing itself as a destination for people looking to be acknowledged and accepted for who they are. The idea is when teachers can show up as their authentic selves, students benefit.

"When you're able to show up as your best self, then the results of that are unlimited," said Lesane.

There have been ongoing staff trainings over the years to help create a safe space for students and staff. The district recently updating its gender support guidelines.

" One of the things we've included in trainings is the need to affirm the preferred pronouns of students," said Dr. Kelvin Bullock, Durham Public Schools Equity Affairs Executive Director.

In June, the school district acknowledged Pride month on its website for the first time.

This comes as Florida lawmakers implemented a law banning the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity for kindergarten through third grade. The fallout included LGBTQ teachers leaving their classrooms as the growing national teacher shortage continues.

Durham Public Schools are welcoming those educators.

"If you have a value for equity, if you have a value for social justice, if you have a value for educating the diverse students we have here in DPS, you belong here. This is the place for you," said Bullock.