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Marcus Avenue DEI Committee Spotlights Women’s History Board

For the month of April, Marcus Avenue Preschool’s DEI committee created a bulletin board honoring women who impacted their lives. The board is filled with women from all walks of life, mostly a mixture of family members but also notable public figures.

BCCS DEI poses with their Women's History BoardRegine Toussaint, a Special Education Teacher Assistant who’s been with the school over seven years shared that the Women’s History Board is meant for people to celebrate themselves and the women in their lives. The DEI community was formed two years ago and currently consists of seven members. They meet once a month on average and share discussions that range from classroom experiences to advocacy to topics of cultural awareness.

“We feel proud being a part of it. It gives me a sense of leadership because we are giving back to the staff,” said Regine.

DEI committee projects included school-wide activities, events, bulletin board contests, and presentations like the current Women’s History Board for this April. Although the committee spearheads DEI activities, they welcome participation from all school staff.

On this current board, Regina included her mother and sister, noting that her sister had a kidney transplant at a young age, and she wanted to highlight where she pulls courage and strength.

Special Education Teacher Assistant Erika Kelly has been with Marcus Avenue for three years and part of the committee since its inception. She was also the one who introduced the Women’s History Board project, and plans to highlight her grandmother, Barbara Thompson, a staunch advocate for education, on the board.

Barbara began her career as a teacher and eventually rose to be the Executive Assistant to Dr. Richard R. Green, New York City Schools first Black Chancellor. Barbara’s work also extended to the National Urban League. Erika credits her grandmother as the inspiration for pursuing a career in the education field today.

Both women feel empowered by their role on the committee and say it has broadened their horizons, enhanced their sense of diversity, and helped them see how much they have in common. They have also gained confidence from sharing and discussing ideas with school leaders.

“From time to time our co-workers give us topics to brainstorm and we try our best to incorporate those ideas and consider them for upcoming months,” said Regine. “If we do not have an activity or event around a topic, we still highlight it in our internal communications.”

The DEI committee supports teachers, but the projects often spill over to include the children as well such as bulletin board contests celebrating holidays or awareness weeks like Reading Across America Week.

“During contests we decorate the boards with their artwork. Our students are young, but we can still read books with them and do activities based on our current topic. During meetings we also exchange ideas and lesson plans based on what’s working,” said Erika.

Members acknowledged tangible outcomes from committee initiatives including a greater sense of community within the school and boosted morale amongst staff. For the future, both Regine and Erika want the committee’s work to continue because of the positive changes that resulted from it.

“We just want everyone here to feel acknowledged and included. We don’t ever want it to stop,” said Regine.

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