Sussex Technical High School educators recently participated in a two-day “Courageous Conversations” program on racial equity as part of in-service training to kick off the new school year.
The hands-on workshop was designed to spark conversations and dialogue among faculty and staff on topics of race and ethnicity, said Sussex Tech Superintendent Stephen Guthrie.
“We work every day to help our students succeed, and that includes increasing our consciousness of ethnic and racial issues,” Guthrie said. “This activity begins an ongoing commitment to continue these conversations and address them in our strategic plan, which will strengthen our Sussex Tech community.”
Educators participated in small- and large-group discussions, shared their own life experiences, and examined national statistics on racial disparities. They also learned about frameworks and skills for having constructive and effective future conversations.
Sussex Tech High School Principal John Demby said that the workshop was especially valuable in giving teachers the tools to engage with students and the community.
“We sometimes have to be personally uncomfortable so our students can have the best educational experience possible,” Demby said. “The Courageous Conversations program helped us start to navigate these complex issues so we can serve our students better.”
Trainer Luis Versalles, a former teacher and principal who is now director of Pre K-12 District Partnerships with the Pacific Educational Group, encouraged the staff to continue the dialogue and set high expectations.
“If you stop at diversity, you can’t get to equity,” he said. “Have your courage to speak your truth, your story. Have the strength to stay in the conversation.”