The Vermont Principals’ Association’s mission is to support school leaders to improve the equity and quality of educational opportunities for all students.
Educational equity means that each and every student receives the resources and educational opportunities they need to learn and thrive.
- Equity means that a student’s success is not predicated nor predetermined by characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, economics, class, geography, disability, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or initial preferences.
- Equity means that every school provides high quality curriculum, programs, teachers and administrators, extracurricular activities and support services.
- Equity goes beyond formal equality where all students are treated the same. Achieving equity may require an unequal distribution of resources and services.
- Equity involves disrupting inequitable practices, acknowledging biases, employing practices that reflect the reality that all students will learn, and creating inclusive multicultural school environments for adults and children.
- VPA Statement of Support for Transgender Students and Student Athletes 10-5-22
- Pregame Statement & Recommendations, Fall Season 2022 (8/26/22)
- VPA Awards $65,000/Community Navigator Program 4/7/22
- $50,000 in Equity Mini-Grants Awarded 4/7/22
- Thank you to Outright VT for their partnership and leadership in the three part webinar series offered to VPA, VSA, and VSBA members in the 21-22 school year.
- Video of Equity Webinar from Insight Education Group, 3/3/22
- The VPA is Participating in the Community Navigator Pilot Program to support BIPOC, Women, and Rural areas with additional support for small business knowledge and innovation (February, 2022).
- Anti-Hate Student Poster Announcement
- View all posters here (January, 2022)
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Activities Reminders, 12-13-21
The VPA‘s DEI in Activities Committee met on December 7th. As the winter sports season begins here are a few key reminders and recommendations:
- We expect the VPA Issued Statement to be read at each event
- Recommendations for your consideration include: changing who reads the statement, having students read the statement, having participating captains read the statement together, attention to language translation when needed, and posting the statement in any printed programs that you may be utilizing
- All coaches and officials are expected to compete the NFHS Implicit Bias, beginning in this sports season
- The Reporting a Concern Log is open and active for this sports season as well
- (VPA 10-19-21 Press Release for Reference)
- We expect the VPA Issued Statement to be read at each event
- VPA/VSA/VSBA Shared Statement on Critical Race Theory (9/20/21)
- Announcement of Collaborative Equity Grant (1/11/21)
- Supporting Equity in Budgets, Public Memo Issued to Members (11/23/20)
- VSA, VSBA, VCSEA, VPA Joint Statement of Support for Outright Vermont (9/1/20)
- VPA Executive Council Statement on Mascots & School Symbols (8/28/20)
- VSBA Model Equity Policy, Select “C29” under students recommended policies (July, 2020)
- VSA, VSBA, VPA Joint Statement Condemning Systemic Racism (6/2/20)
Overview of the Equity Initiative:
In the summer of 2019, the VPA launched the Equity Initiative. This work was led by Linda Wheatley with support from the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Vermont Community Foundation, and The McClure Foundation. The initiative provides concentrated learning, efforts, and actions on issues of equity for our members and the communities that they serve.
The VPA’s overall mission, as indicated above, is to improve equity for all students throughout all of its efforts and programming. Please note the additional specific actions steps (both internal and external) identified in the above 6/2/20 statement and the VPA’s recognition of its own need for continuous improvement.
In addition to the Equity Initiative, some of the VPA’s related work includes:
- Ongoing Professional Learning & Annual Leadership Academy: Many of our ongoing offerings and the theme of our Annual Leadership Academies over the past several years have been directly linked to improving equitable outcomes and building more anti-racist school communities. (view current offerings)
- Policy, State and National Collaboration: The VPA advocates for policy, law, and procedures with state and national collaborations that support all students in public education equitably (e.g. VPA member participation in ACT 1 advisory working group, VPA member participation on the VT Taskforce on Diversifying the Educator Workforce, Symposium of RE Workgroups, and NAESP Race and Equity Task Force.
- DEI Committee: In the spring of 2021, the VPA launched a collaborative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in activities/sports committee. That committee is in partnership with the Vermont State Athletic Directors Association (VSADA). This group meets monthly and has student participants, members of the VPA staff, VPA Activities Standards Committee, Executive Council, and the VSADA. The committee is co-chaired by Mike Jabour of South Burlington High School and Quaron Pinckney of Burlington School District.
- Mini-Grants: In 2020-21, The VPA, with support from the VSA (Vermont Superintendent’s Association) and VSCA (Vermont School Counselor’s Association) partnered with The Vermont Community Foundation and Barr Foundation to help distribute $313,000 in the form of $3,000 – $5,000 mini grants to 81 schools around the state in support of student food, mental health, and access to learning needs related to COVID-19 relief. (list of schools that received mini grants)
- Connecting Vermont Equity Coordinators: Beginning in March 2021, the VSA and VPA started a monthly drop-in for school or district employees who have the role of equity coordinator or a similar title. This space is also an initial gathering for participants to shape and help lead collaboratively. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org in you are interested in joining.
- Leading Equitable, Anti Racist, and Inclusive Education Communities: The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) received a grant award of $150,000 from the Vermont Community Foundation and Barr Foundation. The grant will support work by the Associations to promote equity, antiracism, and inclusion in communities statewide and is part of the Vermont Community Foundation’s Welcoming, Equitable and Antiracist Communities Recovery Initiative. Specifically, this work will focus on efforts to improve equitable practices and outcomes for all Vermont students. An advisory group reviewed the results member driven needs assessment to identify meaningful, actionable goals for this resource. The advisory group was made up of: Alison Sylvester, VT-NEA Representative, Annsunee Swift, VPA Representative, Flor Diaz Smith, VSBA Representative, Mikaela Simms, Equity Coordinator Representative, Jess DeCarolis, AOE Representative, Amy Rex, VSA Representative, Kristin Hubert, VTCLA Representative, Jessica Spencer, VCSEA Representative, Xusana Davis, Executive Director of Racial Equity. Update 2021-22: The advisory group process resulted in hiring consultant groups: Partnership for Fairness & Diversity and the Insight Education Group (IEG) across a range of activities. As part of this work, a mini-grant opportunity was launched in the winter of 2022 in partnership with VSA and the VSBA to support related local school efforts, resulting in $50,000 directly to school-level equity projects in 15 Vermont public schools.
The Equity Initiative also includes the following programming:
Equity Practitioner’s Network: Cohort #2:
The Equity Practitioner’s Network (EPN):
Launched in the summer of 2019, the EPN is a two-year cohort of educators from around the state. In the first year, 28 members built more understanding about Equity Literacy Framework directly from Paul Gorski of the Equity Literacy Institute in two day workshop. That workshop was followed by small group and one-to-one coaching provided by WholeHeart, Inc. additional direct content offerings from leaders in the field, and additional shared reflection, reading, and action projects. (Cohort 1, Year 1) (Cohort 1, Year 2)
- EPN Recommendations for Education Equity post-COVID-19 (6/1/20)
- The Equity Practitioners Network’s Response to COVID-19 (5/7/20)
- Equity Practitioners Network Newsletter (3/31/21)
- This was news/resource roundup from the EPN which is specifically geared towards Vermont educators. EPN member Emily Therrien led this work. Any articles and resources shared are for your review and do not necessarily indicate a full endorsement.
- Equity Practitioner’s Network April Newsletter (4/29/21)
- Equity Practitioner’s Network May Newsletter (5/28/21)
Selected Quotes From EPN Members, 2019-2020
“It is like removing rose-colored glasses. Once you learn to look at decisions differently you can’t help but question every decision you make.” -Heidi McLaughlin, Equity Practitioners Network, School Counselor, Winooski High School
“I see inequities that I didn’t see before, or maybe it’s just that I ask more questions or pause and wonder more often: What am I missing? How is this affecting everyone? Who is left out/pushed aside/marginalized? What don’t I know? What story isn’t being told?” -Jennefer Paquette, Equity Practitioners Network, Assistant Principal, Fair Haven Grade School
“The most important realization for me is that every policy either promotes inequity or is a threat to it. There is no such thing as an equity-neutral policy. That means that we can closely examine every policy in our school and unearth inequities that may have existed for many years. -Chris Sheehan, Equity Practitioners Network, Teacher, Twinfield Union School, Plainfield
“A Place of Our Own”- Affinity Group for Vermont Administrators of Color (VPA member benefit)
“Just a quick note to thank you for your leadership with the VPA Affinity Group for Leaders Of Color. It was, by far, one of the most supportive, inspiring, and informative 90 minutes I’ve ever had in my professional career. We’re talking top 2-3 here- and my career is 28 years old. I am truly grateful to you.” (2020 VPA Affinity group member)
Our group provides an opportunity for BIPOC administrators, working in predominantly white schools to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other through our triumphs and challenges. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes and lots of laughter, provide a place for healing and growth that allows for racial equity transformation. Additionally our affinity group has become a wonderful place to network, make state-wide connections and as well as providing leadership and guidance on issues of educational equity.
The group is facilitated by Bonnie Johnson-Aten, long-time educator in Vermont and currently Principal at Edmunds Elementary School, with support from Kevin Robinson, Integrated Arts Academy Principal. We will generally meet virtually once a month, with quarterly in-person gatherings.We hope you will consider joining us.
A Place of Our Own– An Affinity group for LGBTQIA+ Administrators (A VPA member benefit)
“I want to share with you that during a segment of our Leadership Team meeting, I ended up finally “outing” myself to all my district colleagues. I share this with you because the confidence, level of social-emotional safety, and security I have been experiencing as a result of being in the affinity group paved the way for this to happen today. I was able to leave day one of this week-long meeting feeling more empowered and secure in my own inner truth than I have in my last two years.”(2020 VPA Affinity group member)
Our group provides an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ administrators and athletic directors, to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes, challenges, and lots of laughter, provide a safe and secure place for our tribe. We have found that similar issues come up, no matter where we work in Vermont. Additionally, our affinity group has become a wonderful place to network and make state-wide connections, as well as provide leadership and guidance on LGBTQIA+ issues.
The group is facilitated by Kevin Dirth, former Superintendent of the Maple Run Unified Schools and long-time educator in Vermont. We generally meet virtually once a month and hope to occasionally meet in person several times a year. We hope you will consider joining us.
Kevin can be contacted at: email@example.com
Tools for Consideration
- MAEC, Time to Act: Keeping Equity at the Center of Leadership–A Guide for Superintendents, Winter 2021
- MAEC, Equity Audit Tool, Released Winter 2021
- VT-AOE Equity Lens Tool & AOE Educational Equity Page
- Learning for Justice (formerly known as TeachingTolerance, searchable and updated bank of resources)
- Equity Traps and Tropes by Dr. Jamila Dugan (March 2021)
- Equity in a Divided Community, Talking Points for Leaders (Spring 2021)
Thank you to the Vermont Community Foundation, the McClure Foundation, and the National Life Group Foundation.