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WS/FCS Equity Coach Wins NCEF Fellowship
December 4, 2023 – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Lead Equity Coach Mark Maxwell has been selected for the North Carolina Equity Foundation 2023-24 fellowship program.
For the past four years, the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED) has selected cohorts of up to eight educators in the state to serve as fellows with the NCEF. Through this program, fellows collaborate and receive mentorship that helps them develop policies and projects to address racial inequality at the district and state levels. The program is rooted in educational data that consistently reflects worse learning outcomes for students from ethnic minorities and the belief that cooperation, mindfulness, and tactical thinking can help create a learning atmosphere where every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.
“It is clear, whether looking at the political climate or consulting the access and outcome educational data, that race matters immensely,” said CREED Director of Programming Kamille Bostick. “Our historical unwillingness to grapple with this malady has weakened us as a nation and state. No time is better than now to confront these issues.”
Maxwell couldn’t agree more that addressing racial inequality in education should be a top priority for WS/FCS. The district’s 53,000+ students are about one third Black and one third Hispanic, and it’s essential for the district to remove undue barriers that minority students face to lasting academic success. The Office of Equity, Access, and Acceleration already has strategies in place to identify and address these hurdles, including this year’s Equity Ambassador Initiative, which is inviting representatives from every school in the district to update the office on any inequality issues that they observe. However, there’s still room to grow, and Maxwell hopes that the fellowship will expose him to helpful ideas from his colleagues throughout the state.
“Equity is not just what you do, it’s who you are,” Maxwell said. “These are the issues that burn inside me every day. I’m hoping that this will be a chance to lift up those issues in our district.”
The Brookings Institution reports that a Black student is 32% more likely to go to college if they have at least one Black teacher by the time they get to third grade. Maxwell thinks of this statistic as a microcosm of how important it is for every student to see themselves in their schools and know that they belong there. If he concludes this fellowship with even one piece of advice for WS/FCS educators on how to meet students where they are and unlock their personal brilliance, then it’s a task he feels called to take on.
“We don’t have time to practice equity – we need to bring our A-game every day,” Maxwell said. “We must see the genius in every student.”
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