Photo by John Francis '18

GPPS diversity plan kicks off

February 27, 2017

In an effort to address racially insensitive events in Grosse Pointe Public Schools last winter, the school board has been working to emphasize on the acceptance of diversity.

South’s principal, Moussa Hamka said that Grosse Pointe is currently dealing with the same diversity related issues other districts dealt with 10 or 15 years ago.

“As a school, we’re committed to ensuring that all students feel welcomed in our learning environment. Recent events last year highlighted the need for increased awareness and focus on this topic.” Hamka said.

On Monday, Feb. 13, Director of Secondary Instruction Maureen Bur and Director of Pre-K and Elementary Instruction Keith Howell presented their powerpoint about how to incorporate diversity into Grosse Pointe classrooms at the school board meeting.

Bur and Howell have been working on this project for over a year with the help of staff, administration and the cabinet team at Grosse Pointe, with the main vision of one GP, where “everyone learns, everyday” according to the Grosse Pointe Public Schools main website .

They presented a strategic plan of how they intend to accomplish their goals specifically. These tactics include focusing on collaboration, compassion, embracing diversity, innovation, integrity, global awareness and perseverance.

“We must provide culturally responsive curriculum, assessment and instruction by integrating best practices and strategies to meet the learning needs and styles of all students,” Bur said via email.

In the presentation, Bur emphasized the importance of a teacher student bond and how teachers must get to know their students in order to maximize instruction.

In the presentation at the school board meeting, it was announced that in order to identify specific issues and target areas, a team from University of Michigan that specializes in social sciences was set to visit and evaluate South that week. The team from U of M has worked with multiple other Metro Detroit schools to improve situations of a similar nature.

“The U of M school of social work has proven experience in effective strategies to engage students and continue dialogue and build programs to make a more inclusive environment,” Hamka said.

South has it’s own group of staff and selected students who are focused on expanding the acceptance of diversity. Maren Roeske ‘18 and Miles Dearing ‘19 helped guide the tour of South for the Michigan team.

“We (Grosse Pointe residents) are in a bubble, and eventually that bubble is going to pop,” Miles Dearing said.

Both Dearing and Hamka agreed that Michigan’s tour was successful and important, and they both left the experience feeling hopeful.  

“I hope as a result, that we’re able to foster a more open environment where students can agree to disagree civilly, where we can share our differences but also embrace them,” Hamka said.

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