Feeding the Food Insecure

Growing up as a child and teenager, my family would have been classified as economically disadvantaged because we qualified for free lunch. Shopping as a family in thrifts stores and having clothes donated to us was viewed as normal. Receiving the government monthly checks, along with the blocks of cheese, bread, etc., fed our family of nine. Whenever there was a shortage, other family and friends always helped us out, so we were never hungry, in need of clothing or lacked adequate shelter. So we were always able to come to school with enough sleep and nutrition to learn without challenge. Have you ever gone to bed hungry, because there was no food in your house? As parents, leaders, and educators, it is one of our greatest fears to see our children hungry. However, some children do unfortunately suffer from food insecurity.  

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash 

Food insecurity is, “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to gain acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Unfortunately, many children who face food insecurity are often physically, emotionally, and cognitively behind their food-secure peers. Food insecurity can severely affect children’s health and brain development long before they enter a classroom. That is why leaders and educators need to ensure all of their pupils are food-secure. Addressing food insecurity in your institution will help foster equity in your community. When all children are food-secure, they all have a better chance at success.  

Food insecurity has a direct impact on the health of your pupils. The most affordable food is often the unhealthiest, especially in food deserts, where finding healthy food at an affordable price can be difficult. Because of this, food-insecure households are much more likely than food-secure households to report eating unhealthy foods. It also affects a child’s education. Food-insecure children often show smaller gains in reading and math comprehension than their food-secure classmates. Food-insecure children and teenagers have been shown to miss school more frequently, and are more likely to repeat a grade than food-secure children. Any disadvantages in which food insecurity puts some children also points to inequity in your organization. 

Photo by RODNAE Productions  

So, how can we eliminate food insecurity in our educational institutions? School breakfast programs are a great option. Programs like this help decrease the time between meals for children with limited access to food outside of your institution. School breakfast programs have shown to increase attendance, decrease tardiness, and provide quality nutrition to students who might not always have access to a healthy breakfast. The same goes for lunch and after-school meal programs. Lunch programs are pillars to ensuring the food needs of your students are met. After-school programs help ensure children get in one more meal before returning home, where they might not have sufficient food to eat for dinner. We can often reimburse many of these programs, and they are an equitable investment to make in your educational institution to ensure your community is food-secure. 

Leaders, food insecurity doesn’t stop with the students. It can also affect your educators. Food insecurity affects the health of your educators, as well as workplace productivity. Employees that are food-insecure are more likely to miss and be distracted at work. Time lost when employees are absent or not fully productive comes at a cost, not only to your educational institution but also to the students and their learning experiences. In order to foster a healthy, productive work environment, access to safe, nutritious food is essential.  

Photo by RODNAE Productions 

Combating food insecurity in your educational community is a keyway to help foster equity among your students, as well as your educators. Providing meal programs to your community is just one great way you can ensure everyone stays alert and productive while teaching and learning. Have you identified food insecurity as an issue in your educational institution? GOMO Educational Services can help you do that, and more. We perform equity audits on educational institutions and organizations, and then we use the information we gather to help you change your community so that everyone benefits from the resources they need and are better poised for success. Don’t know where to start? Contact us today for guidance! 

I will not Correctly Pronounce Your Name 

Have you ever had someone struggle to pronounce your name, so they decided to call you something that’s easier for them to say? I have. With the name Josue, there are different language variations. Being Haitian, the correct pronunciation of my first name is Zhǝ-zu-way. Then, there’s my last name, Falaise. The correct pronunciation is Fa-Lez. However, for most of my life people had called me, Joshua Full Ace because of their discomfort with pronouncing my first and last name. In fact, I continue to hear people ask me “Is there an easier version, abbreviation or American version to your name?” I’ll be honest: it doesn’t feel great. It seems small, but when you think about it, it’s not. Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is one of the simplest ways to show value for their name, culture and heritage. No name is too hard to say – you just have to learn how to say it. Refusing to do so is not only devalues their name, culture and heritage, but is also considered a microaggression.  

What are microaggressions? Microaggressions are casual verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights or cues, regardless of intention, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. Some examples of microaggressions are using sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory language, assuming someone’s gender, refusing to pronounce someone’s name correctly, or singling someone out based on their background. Microaggressions are casual, so their delivery might not be outwardly aggressive, but their impact on the recipient is just as significant as if they were.  

In many cases, microaggressions exist on a subconscious level. Concepts like imitating someone’s accent or using inappropriate humor that degrades those belonging to certain groups occur more commonly than blatant discrimination all fall under the umbrella of microaggressions. These ideas, along with many others, are commonly practiced by many without the realization that they are microaggressions. As educational leaders, one of our greatest responsibilities is to foster a community that is safe for everyone. Eliminating microaggressions in our classrooms is one of the most effective ways to do that. 

So, how do we deal with microaggressions? There are key actions we can take before and when microaggressions occur, as well as preventative steps we can take to avoid them in the future. First, we should reflect on and acknowledge our own interactions and behaviors we may exhibit. What triggers us? Why? How do others react to certain remarks we make? Do those remarks target individuals in our communities? How can we work through discomfort? Encourage your educators to reflect on their own interactions and behaviors as well. They will be the driving force that encourages safety in their classrooms.  

Remember, eliminating microaggressions has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a good person, or a good leader. However, it has everything to do with ensuring that your community is safe for everyone. Good intentions can have a harmful impact. That is why reflection and acknowledgement are essential when considering microaggressions and their place in your community.  

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

Now that we know some measures to take to prevent microaggressions, what can we do when we witness them in action? First things first: Pause and breathe. Understand that emotions can elevate quickly if someone is upset. Review your community guidelines so that everyone in the situation remembers what type of behavior is expected of them in your organization. Ask for clarification and take time to explain the harmful impact of microaggressions. Take care to validate and extend support to those who have been targeted and be sure to follow up with them after the issue has been resolved. Are they satisfied with the outcome? Has the behavior of the aggressor changed? Consider all of this in your work to eliminate microaggressions in your organization. If someone still feels unsafe, there is more immediate work to do.  

The work that must be done to overcome microaggressions is not easy by any means, but it is necessary to foster a safe, inclusive, and equitable institution. If you’re not sure where to start, GOMO Education Services can help you. Our equity audits will help you to understand which areas of your organization need improvement, and our equity training will help you foster safety and inclusivity in your community. Leaders, take matters into your own hands and pledge to improve the equity of your educational institution. Contact us today to get started.  

Digital Equity Divided

As I look back at the 2000-2001 school year when I was in the classroom, I remember that I was one of only handful of teachers that utilized an electronic gradebook. Other teachers thought it would take too long to learn and understand the software and others thought it would require too much of their lesson planning and grading time to consistently input grades into it. I also remember when I stepped into the new role of a building leader as a vice principal for the 2001- 2002 school year. The most sought-after electronic devices were Blackberry cell phones and newly released HP Jornada 728. In the role of chief academic officer/assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in the 2016-2017 school year, I challenged myself to find creative ways to ensure all 11,000 students in the district had their own Chromebook. Regardless of profession or role, every year there are new devices that people pursue to keep up with the perceived 21st century trends. This same feeling exists in educational technology regularly called edtech. Despite the changes in trends in edtech devices and programs, we can all agree that for whatever reason there are disparities between schools and districts that have led to a digital technology divide. 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

The teachers in the classroom experience the greatest level of use of edtech tools directly with the students. In many cases, students have begun teaching the teachers on how to utilize new tools and training them on how to implement them into the instructional day for better integration. Even after the world required us to pivot to fully virtual learning, there are still schools with little to antiquated technology, teachers utilizing paper and pencils for all or most instruction and homework, lecturing from the board, limiting the learning to the textbook and the list goes on. Additionally, some of these teachers receive minimal technology training.  

School leaders are challenged with decreasing budgets to purchase new devices and send teachers to edtech workshops to help build their knowledge base. The district leaders struggle even more with budgetary obscurities which impact their district’s technology infrastructure, which then trickles down to the school leaders, classroom teachers and ultimately to the students.    

As the CEO of GOMO, I made sure to communicate and display our company commitment to support PK-12 school districts. I challenged myself with designing experiences, which will benefit teachers and school and district leaders with edtech experiences that will directly and indirectly benefit students. As a result, I offer the following statement for the educators to consider; the 21st century school district, school or classroom are not limited to tools and devices. It is a mindset. 

Photo by Pixabay

         Despite the challenges that may continue to exist due to the digital technology divide, GOMO seeks to help decrease the gap. Digital equity can be resolved when administrators ensure their systems and adult educators are equipped to address the needs of all students. The journey can seem longer for some than others. However, it is journey we must travel when we truly believe that we exist to help all students learn and achieve.  

        Minoritized Youth and Racial Profiling, Part 2 

        In the first blog post, we learned about Michael’s desire to quickly step out of his home merely blocks away to purchase a McDonald’s meal without a wallet. However, Michael also told us about the many times his mother notified him to carry a wallet with ID. For some people of color, this story may be a regular reminder about our struggle. For others, it is difficult to comprehend the big deal with walking to a restaurant close to home. Since we stopped short of learning about the profiling Michael experienced, we are going to continue to read about it now.     

         After Michael leaves his home, he tells us “As I turned the corner to walk down the street, I took a few steps and then proceeded to cross the busy street. Within seconds of doing so, I saw a police vehicle approaching. To this day, I am unsure of how I was able to predict this, but intuitively, I knew that this police car was coming for me. As much as I would have liked to be wrong, I wasn’t. Two Caucasian police officers immediately stopped the car by the curb that was parallel to my pathway. They yelled “Stop.” Then, they immediately jumped out of their car. I was scared and became intensely nervous. They shouted, “Put your hands up!” They pushed me against a brick wall, proceeded to frisk me and run through my pockets only to find money. While this event was happening, I was utterly embarrassed and ashamed. Anyone who traveled on this street at the time saw me being berated as if I was a criminal.  

        The questions came one after another. One asked, “Where was I headed?” While the other questioned, “Where was I coming from?” My anxiety level was high, but I answered both questions truthfully praying that my answers would cease the onslaught of questioning. Still, with further interrogations, I realized that the officers didn’t believe me. Then, I was asked to present identification to validate my home address. My heart sank because I knew my wallet was left at home. The officers asked for my address and again, I shared. When I asked why this was happening the rebuttal was, I resembled the description of a suspicious individual roaming on the street. Afterall of the questioning and frisking, they released me. I was so startled by this experience, my appetite subsided, and I returned home. Upon returning home, I contacted my mother to explain what I had just experienced. While she was mad and hurt, I knew this reminiscent of a painful cycle that she and my dad once endured. She asked if I had my wallet with me and I replied, “no”. This obviously led to a discussion about keeping my wallet close to me. Eventually, it was unearthed that a neighbor, new to our street called the cops on me because they did not recognize my identity. 

         This dreaded event caused me to understand the errors in my actions. Additionally, I wanted to use the situation as a teachable moment to be knowledgeable of methods to employ for future references. Beyond the recommendation of regularly carrying a wallet, in accordance to the Pacer Center (2020), the following practices should be considered when adolescents interact with the police: (1) respectfully share your name, (2), avoid arguing with the police, (3) never run from the police, (4) ask if they are being arrested but never resist arrest, (5) have no discussion about the situation without the presence of a lawyer or a trusted adult, and (6) never lie. Other critical points to consider are to maintain the visibility of your hands, never assault the police officer, and practice self-control. While these recommendations will not prevent racial profiling, certainly, these steps will increase the likelihood of assisting children who have run-ins with the police to return home safely and securely.  


        The basis of this blog post was to acknowledge the disproportionality that African American adolescents experience with racial profiling. In continuation, this discussion also luminated the need for parents to articulate to their children the importance of properly mitigating negative relations with police. Considering the idea that no child should experience mistreatment or endure traffic stops by the police because of skin color such occurrences have not been eradicated within societal norms. Recent years revealed, more than ever, homes with minoritized people must emphasize the topic of police brutality. Not because conversations around the subject is conceptually meaningful but for the mere fact that so many innocent black and brown children are unnecessary targets (i.e., Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, etc.). Fortunately for me, I was able to live to tell my story, but observations shows that many other children cannot and may not be able to ensure the same fate.” 

         While Michael identified some current high profile innocent black and brown people who experienced unimaginable fates, there are so many more who never made or will ever make the news. Yet their loved ones and local communities are dealing with the results of the disparity in treatment. While the process of ridding our communities, countries and world of hate and mistreatment of people is a huge task, it is the purpose of our work at GOMO. We understand that hate only divides people and hurts the progress of a group, community, society and a nation. So we are intentional about bringing truths about the treatment of historically underrepresented and oppressed groups. Then we take the next steps of educating, guiding and supporting one school, one district and one organization at a time to help change the narrative for the future. If you believe that GOMO is the type of partner your organization would like to work with, schedule a consultation with us at www.gomoedservices.com#contact.       


        Pacer Center. (2020). What Youth Need to Know if They Are Question by Police: Tips for Parents to Prepare Their Youth with a Disability. Retrieved from https://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c171.pdf 

        Minoritized Youth and Racial Profiling, Part 1 

        Growing up, my parents spoke to my brothers and sisters over and over about getting approval before going to places and visiting friends on our own. During my youth years, my understanding was limited because I always thought that everything would be fine and immediate approval increases my time to be with my friends. Since my parents were so protective, I did not encounter explicit racial profiling until I was a sophomore in high school. It was after wrestling practice. My best friend and I were walking through a store trying to purchase some krimpets. Then someone in the store was following us very closely without any shame. We returned to the store many times after because it was on our walking route home. However, we were racially profiled many times in the store afterwards. Additionally, we observed it happening to our other friends of color. Fortunately, this type of profiling did not lead to any harm to me or my friends.  

        Blurred convenience store shelves

        In our usual GOMO fashion, we seek to find people who have experienced the same type of topical challenges that we’re covering. This time, we have Dr. Michael DuBose, a New Jersey district supervisor and GOMO consultant, to share his input about his youth and racial profiling. “When reflecting on racial profiling, I ponder on Jor’Dell Richardson, a 14-year-old African American male from Colorado, who was fatally shot by Aurora Police Officer Gruszeczka on June 1, 2023 (Easterwood, 2023). I wonder what more could have been done to protect this child. Certainly, a common solution is frequent bi-directional discussions between the parent and child to inform, educate, and model appropriate behaviors to apply when dealing with the police. For this reason, if more minority homes continuously engage in these discussions with their children, perhaps less youth may fall prey to police brutality, like Richardson and countless others. According to Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a poll illustrated that 7 out of 10 African Americans encountered discriminative practices or abrasive circumstances involving law enforcement (KFF, 2020).  

        Defined as the use of race to determine if an individual committed a crime (Oxford University Press, 2023), the insidiousness of racial profiling is a conundrum for the minority population (e.g., African Americans, Latino Americans, etc.) of all ages. Regardless if a minority individual lives in a red (Republican) state or a blue (Democratic) state, two facts remain true. Racial profiling is problematic throughout the United States and minority individuals experience this form of discrimination in modern times.  

        Closeup of Police Lights on Dark Street at Night

        While this blog post will focus on racial profiling by way of police officers, I opine that theoretically racial profiling extends beyond the discriminative actions by law enforcement. Clearly, one’s shopping excursion can be dictated by the treatment or perception by a merchant who is racially biased. McCabe (2023) reported the results of a Deal Aide survey wherein 1,020 African American consumers participated. The survey findings illustrated that the over 90% of African American expressed being racial profiled during their shopping experience.  

        While flabbergasted by the latter statistical results, these findings are not surprising since my own experiences were bitterly familiar. Living in New Jersey, a progressive blue state, racial profiling is notorious. For example, ABC News (2000) revealed that NJ State Police were fully aware that African American drivers were targets for traffic violations. I’ve experienced circumstances involving racial profiling throughout my life. Some examples involved Santa Claus denying me the chance to pose for a picture while at the mall. Side note, this incident influenced my father to “play” Santa to show me that Santa loves all children. Moreover, in a world so huge, Black Santas exist too. Another example are the numerous moments I was followed from aisle-to-aisle in various stores. A final example were those times that I stood patiently flagging down a taxi in New York City. Despite how far I stretched or waved my arms, the color of my skin prevented me from getting serviced. While these experiences molded my perspective about being Black in America, none have been as detrimental to my being than being racial profiled by the police.   

        My 17-year-old self was naïve and still wet behind the ears. With this in mind, never in a million years would I have surmised that I would have my own story to share about racial profiling. My parents were the conversative and practical types who were immensely involved in my development. They were raised in the South and spoke vividly about their experiences with racism. Because they had a child of dark pigmentation and I was learning how to drive, these stories were constant. With these variables in mind, my mother always got on my case about carrying a wallet every time I walked out of the house.  

        At this time of my life, my parents and I resided in an opulent and rather prestigious neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey. Few African Americans were so privileged to reside on this street consequent to home pricing as well as the cost of rent. Further, I attended a county school whose schedule slightly differed from the city’s school district where I lived. Thus, my high school was off on this particular day, whereas the nearby schools were in session. Being a typical teenager, I was home alone, and I wanted some fresh air and a bite to eat. So, with a happy-go-lucky spirit, I rushed out the door to the nearby McDonalds situated on a busy road. Though I was mindful that I left my wallet at home, I thought what could possibly happen in such a short duration of time. I lived around the corner from McDonalds and hypothesized that it would be a quick trip. Besides, I possessed enough money to purchase one Quarter Pounder sandwich with a super-sized French fry, and an Orange Hi-C, with little to no ice.” 

        Whether you live in an urban area like Jersey City, New Jersey or a suburban township like Laguna Beach, California, you are curious to know what will happen to Michael during his short walk to the nearby McDonalds. However, the question we should be asking ourselves, why should Michael have to be concerned with anything beyond having the funds to cover the expenses for his meal? Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post to read about Michael’s experience of walking in his neighborhood during the day as a young black male. 


        ABC News (2000). N.J. Knew of Racial Profiling for Years. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/amp/US/story?id=95406&page=1 

        Easterwood (2023). Aurora cop who shot 14-year-old has past racial profiling complaint. Retrieved from https://kdvr.com/news/local/aurora-cop-who-shot-14-year-old-has-past-racial-profiling-complaint/amp/ 

        KFF (2023). Most of the Public Favor a Range of Police Reforms to Curb Excessive Force, though Partisan Gaps Exist on Some Key Proposal. Retrieved from https://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c171.pdf 

        McCabe (2023). State of Racial Profiling in American Retail. Retrieved from https://dealaid.org/research/racial-profiling-in-retail/ 

        Oxford University Press (2023). Racial Profiling. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/racial-profiling?q=Racial+profiling 

        Life In An Inner City 

        When my family moved back to the US in 1981 from Haiti, my parents could only afford to purchase a home in Irvington, an urban city in the state of New Jersey. According to bestneighborhood.org in 2022, Irvington, NJ is currently composed of 85.5% of black people. However, it was populated by 40% black people in the early 1980’s. We lived in the heavily populated section of black people with nationalities from all over the world. I was in grades 4 and 5 during that time. The houses in our area were close to each other. The elementary school one block up the street from our house was considered dangerous. So, my brothers, sisters and I went to catholic school and had very limited contact with our neighbors that were not our family, Haitian or Caribbean. My story is not unusual because families who are forced to live in inner cities like mine kept working hard and keep working hard to get out and to make sure the children are safe and not exposed to the promoted short-term or long-term challenges. One challenge is the term coined for inner city or urban areas as “the hood”. Basically, a place where anything that could go wrong goes wrong for almost everyone that lives there.    

        By Rcsprinter123 – Own work, CC BY 3.0 

        While inner cities and urban school systems have had a bad rap for such a long time, it only contributes to the dismissal of schools, systems and people that have great gifts to share with the world. Our GOMO intern, Josiah Lajuenesse, currently lives in the suburbs but reflects on his time in the inner city. “If there is one word I could use to describe what life has been like growing up in Newark, New Jersey, it would be interesting. Despite my age, I’ve seen a lot coming from this area. It’s one that faces a lot of adversity. As an insider, many people look at Newark as a corrupt city, one that’s dirty and filled with poverty and crime. I don’t think that’s all true though. In reality, Newark is what you make of it.  

        Coming from the West Ward, you can hear many things happening around you: shoot-outs, break-ins, burglaries. These are some things you just get used to and learn to avoid. And while there is crime here, a lot of well-known names originated from this city. Shaquille O’Neil, Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Michael B. Jordan. People are so busy focusing on the crime and poverty that we face here in Newark, that they cannot remember and appreciate all the talented minds that came from here too. It’s not just Newark though – cities like mine across the country are full of hidden talent and potential. 

        Crime isn’t the worst part of living in an inner city. For me, it was watching my mother struggle. She always tried her hardest to keep me off the streets. Seeing her work two jobs just to do things for her children was heartbreaking to witness. The sad truth is if you ask most families in Newark, you’d hear very similar stories. Making it out of the inner city life is an incredible challenge, one that some aren’t able to overcome. One that my mom refused to let us fall victim to.  

        Ten years after living in Newark, we now live in a house in a better environment. This is something I am so grateful for. If more people had the resources they needed to succeed, they wouldn’t have to worry about adversity to the degree most do living in cities like Newark. When faced with the distractions of the streets, my mother kept her course and got us out. She taught me that when you set a goal for yourself and work hard, you can actually achieve it. It didn’t come without sacrifice, but it reminds me that your environment doesn’t define your potential. No matter who you are or where you come from, it’s possible to make a good life for yourself.” 

        Image by Adrian from Pixabay 

        Home environments have a tremendous impact on a child’s performance at school. As the two spaces that they occupy the most, it’s important not to overlook either of them. Josiah’s story shows that certain circumstances sometimes prevent marginalized parents from being able to provide optimal learning resources for their children. As a company that is dedicated to ensuring equity in educational institutions, GOMO recognizes that home lives significantly affect a child’s performance at school. We will never blame their parents for this because every family’s situation is different, but it is something we can help educators be aware of so that they may have a better understanding of the support an individual requires.  

        We strive to help educators and leaders learn how to provide different care for children based on their needs. Any child lacking support at home should be able to seek it from their learning institute. With our guidance, we can teach you how to support children and their parents, by providing a safe space and resources for everyone. Equitable resources ensure the fulfillment of everyone’s needs on an individual level, and their parents can rest easy knowing that their child is in trustworthy hands that genuinely care about their well-being and success. Contact us today to transform your organization into one of equity, inclusivity, and success.

        Denied for Being Too Dark 

        Most of my life, I have been and continue to be the darkest person or one of the darkest people in certain spaces that I visit. So of course, I get the looks and hear whispers “who is he” and “what does he do to get invited here? It is something that I have become accustomed to since the 1980’s when my family was one of three families of color in a catholic school in Bloomfield, NJ. I was the only black male in my grade levels for five consecutive years out of class average of 22 students. There was another black female and Hispanic male during the same time. Unfortunately, my story is not unique because we are still hearing in 2022 the first black or person of color doing something that had always been perennially designed for white people. Unfortunately, there are students in a number of classrooms throughout America who are being denied many rights, privileges and activities solely based on the color of their dark or darker skin.  GOMO intern, Kamil Moore, was very excited to share his story on the matter. He remembered about a situation during his grade years.

        “Imagine being the only person of color in your entire second grade class. As you could guess, it wasn’t always easy. Despite being so young, I could always tell when I was being treated differently by my classmates, and even certain teachers. Years later, there is one memory that stays with me. 

        Photo by CDC on Unsplash 

        It was recess, and our teacher brought us to the playground outside. I was always a quiet kid, but when recess came around, I would always break out of my shell and ask to join in on the fun all the other kids were having. I approached a group of my classmates and asked them if I could join in on their game. Their response to my request was that I couldn’t play with them because I was, “too dark.” Those words crushed me. Just because I didn’t look like them, I was inferior and not worth playing with. The teacher took notice as I started crying and approached me.  

        Once I explained the situation to my teacher, she reassured me. She told me that just because I look different from others it didn’t mean I had any less of a right or privilege to play with them. Swift action followed as she went over to my classmates who made the comment and reprimanded them. She also spoke to their parents about their behavior. Having her stand up for me showed me from a young age that there are people who don’t pass judgment based on the color of one’s skin.”

        Image by LaterJay Photography from Pixabay 

        Kamil’s story is one of many that highlight the impact equity has on a student’s learning experience. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment for every child. Recess, one of the few designated times for children to strengthen their social skills amongst each other, is no exception. While Kamil’s story centers his experience as a person of color, any child who belongs to a marginalized group has the potential to experience prejudice from their peers, and even from their mentors. This behavior is unacceptable and doesn’t foster a respectful and accepting learning environment. 

        Equity in education isn’t about holding a child’s hand through their learning experience. It’s about providing support and resources to children who are at a disadvantage so they can advance to their full academic learning potential. As educators, it is our responsibility to set standards of respect among our pupils. By fostering a learning environment that is inclusive of all children, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical disabilities, etc. we create a school environment that everyone feels safe and accepted in. Inclusivity is an integral aspect of ensuring equitable experiences in a learning environment.

        Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash 

        As leaders and educators, we must ask ourselves if our institutions meet standards of equity that foster respect and acceptance on every level. Have you considered your specific equity needs? Do you have a committee that is dedicated to the improvement of equity compliance in all phases of your organization? Are your students seeing themselves represented in your curriculum? What resources do you have for children with disabilities? These are some questions that GOMO Educational Services considers when assessing your institution’s pursuit of educational equity. Don’t miss the opportunity that comes with every pupil. Get started today and schedule a consultation!

        Equity Among Educators

        Discrimination in the workplace is not a new concept, but it’s one that we strive to eliminate through the power of equity. Equity in education is essential because it creates opportunities for disadvantaged children so that they may overcome their individual challenges and achieve success. This doesn’t happen overnight, but as educational leaders it is our job to forge the path for our educators, so they may forge the path for our pupils. This starts with ensuring that educators have an equitable work environment that they feel supported in. How can us leaders provide that? Let’s brainstorm.  

        Develop Your Skills

        Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

        As a leader, one substantial way to foster a work environment with equity is to develop your skills. Consider concepts like empathy, emotional intelligence, awareness, and communication. Are you extending empathy to every person who steps foot through the doors of your institution? Is your emotional intelligence developed enough to understand other people’s emotions during conflict? Are you aware of why certain students might be at a disadvantage, and their specific needs to reach success? Do you encourage open and safe communication among your educators and pupils? Strengthening these skills, and encouraging your educators to do so as well, is the first step to fostering an equitable work environment.  

        Provide Workplace Support

        Photo by fauxels

        How are you using your power as a leader to support your educators? Providing support is another significant way to foster equity among educators. Forge inclusive spaces that are anti-racist, LGBTQIA+ positive, and accessible for people with disabilities. Create space for your marginalized educators to express concerns and suggest improvements without fear of retaliation. Uplift your educators through the respectful use of their preferred pronouns by everyone. Encourage them to foster these inclusive spaces in their classrooms. Do more than employ individuals. Provide them workplace support. Make them feel safe and proud to work at your institution.  

        Prioritize Their Health

        Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

        The job of an educator is not easy. Most times, work weighs down one side of the scale, often leaving educators to feel burnt out both physically and mentally. In prioritizing your educators’ well-being and mental health, you acknowledge they are human beings who need rest. Ensure your educators have designated lunch and break times (and that they’re taking them). Understand the unique stressors faced by your marginalized educators and educators of color. Encourage your educators to take the time they need to heal and rest if they are physically or mentally unwell. Prioritizing both your educators’ mental and physical health strengthens the well-being of your community overall.  

        Leaders, it is our responsibility to create equitable spaces for learning, so that every child can achieve success. This starts with our educators. They are so much more than employees; they are people who dedicate their lives to upholding educational standards that provide access to resources, stability, and success. GOMO Educational Services provides the tools and guidance that will help you foster community in your organization. Contact us today to level up as an educational leader!

        Fitting the Description

        While I haven’t been in any encounters with the police about fitting the description of a suspect for anything, I have been accused by people. It is really frustrating to have to keep being on the defense for something when you are totally innocent. While I have stories for days about this topic, I wanted to another person to share their story. It turns out that our GOMO intern, Josiah Lajuenesse, wanted to share his story about a time while he was in middle school in New Jersey. He stated,  

        “We gain knowledge through experience. And while I can’t pinpoint when I realized my identity as a Black man would present more challenges to me than others, certain moments in my life proved to me that this is true. 

        I remember one day vividly. I was with my friends after school, headed to a convenience store for some candy and Arizona iced tea. As soon as we walked into the store, the manager asked us to leave our bags outside with no explanation. We didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but we all had Chromebooks that belonged to our school in our bags. We thought of a simple solution: one of us would stand outside with our bags while the rest of us grabbed the snacks. It wasn’t an easy compromise though. Before we could even start browsing, the manager of the convenience store threatened to kick our friend who was watching our stuff off the property. 

        Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

        Eventually our friend ended up joining us inside, but the trouble didn’t end there. While we browsed, it was undeniable that we were being followed around the store. It didn’t become a real problem again until we were stuck in the candy aisle, trying to decide what to get. The manager threatened to kick us out again, this time for standing in place for too long. We asked him what the issue was, and I’ll never forget his response: “You guys have been in this aisle for at least five minutes. We can tell you’re trying to steal.”  

        Even after stressing our good intentions and taking our wallets out to show him our money, he still didn’t believe us. So we settled on Trollies and Sour Patch Kids, grabbed our drinks, and paid. Even after paying, he followed us all the way to the door.  

        Later, I asked him what his reasoning was for treating us like that. He claimed that some kids fitting our description stole from the store recently, and he didn’t want to take any chances. He apologized for putting us through that, but the damage was done.  

        Photo by Budgeron Bach

        This experience is one of many, not only for me but also for other people in marginalized groups. It’s so important to treat people with kindness and respect. The manager of the convenience store wasn’t wrong for being alert, but he went too far when he profiled me and my friends because we “fit the description” of the kids who stole from his store. Because of this situation, I know now that this is something I will face more than others.”  

        Josiah’s story highlights how harmful stereotypes can be. GOMO Educational Services helps bring awareness to equity issues that challenge learning institutions, like stereotyping. A stereotype is a widely held, fixed, and oversimplified idea of a person. Stereotyping entire demographics harms each person at the individual level because it is an overgeneralization that is a defining factor of each pupil’s character, their ability to learn, and the resources they might need. On the opposite end, stereotyping individuals is just as harmful because every pupil is different, each having their own specific strengths, weaknesses, and needs.  

        As a professional group, we are dedicated to ensuring that every student has the resources they need to succeed in an educational setting. We see and understand how stereotyping kids based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on, can negatively affect that student’s learning experience. If equity issues, like stereotyping, are a growth barrier for your institution, GOMO can help you easily identify these issues on a case-by-case basis, eliminating them at the root and allowing for a space that adequately supports everyone based on their needs. Contact us today to get started.  

        Using Empathy to Eliminate “New Kid” Anxiety

        Everyone’s been the new kid once. Do you remember how you felt? How old you were? Were you nervous? For many children, moving to a new school is one of the toughest challenges they are subject to face in their formative years, especially for those belonging to marginalized groups. Transitioning to a new school can be quite frightening, especially if they don’t feel welcome. It is vital to new students that we, as educators, use our authority to enhance their learning experiences based on their specific needs. We can only truly achieve this through equity.

        Photo by Yan Krukov 

        One way to do this is by ensuring everyone at your school – leaders, educators, and students alike – is eager to help make new students feel welcomed. Lending support can be as simple as a smile while passing them in the hallway, using their preferred names (despite their pronunciation), and telling them your story. Building relationships with your pupils gives you the knowledge you need to meet their specific needs, while showing them we support them in their learning environment. Encouraging other students to offer support is also an effective way to ensure a student transitioning to a new school feels comfortable. The willingness to extend that kindness to everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, or financial status is key to making them feel accepted in your educational community. 

        Your work doesn’t end once everyone is familiar with the student. Progress is not linear, and neither are students’ specific needs. Understanding this is essential in ensuring an equitable learning environment. Disorganization, forgetfulness, struggling to complete assignments, and changes in mood are a few signs to look out for in your pupils. These signs are indicators that a particular student might be struggling and need extra support from you as their mentor.  

        Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

        More often than not, a student’s negative outlook towards school comes from a lack of support and resources. An empathetic educator will consider the student’s situation and determine how they can provide additional support. As a role model, it is your responsibility to form relationships with every one of your students and provide guidance as necessary. By doing this, every student has a chance at becoming successful, because they’re each getting what they need, rather than what you think they need based on assumptions. When you provide support based on the child’s needs, you also provide a safe space for them to overcome their struggles, rather than contributing to them.  

        As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that every student is getting their needs met. Everyone’s experience is unique. In each child’s perspective lies an opportunity for us, as mentors, to help guide them toward success. Helping rid students of “New Kid” anxiety is only part of the bigger picture. If you are looking for guidance through your commitment to cultivate equity in your institution, GOMO Educational Services can assist. We provide invaluable training and resources that will strengthen your teaching and leadership experience into one that fosters equity through empathy, passion along with social emotional learning (SEL) habits. Contact us today and begin your learning evolution! 

        Educators, how are you fostering equity in your classrooms? Leaders, how are you encouraging your educators in this pursuit? Share your comments below.