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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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February 15, 2024

BIPOC Staff Support Network

  A Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) support network was created in PUSD.

  The network was started by Assistant Principal Irma Muñoz Daniels and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) director Jean Takazawa this year.

  After the pandemic, PUSD began investigating how they were supporting people, students, community members, and staff, Muñoz said. PUSD created the Racial Equity Policy (REP), a document describing PUSD’s focus on supporting students and staff of color. Part of this plan is to support retention of BIPOC staff.

  According to the REP, “[the REP is] intended to provide tangible steps for the implementation of the Racial Equity Board Policy.” This goal led Muñoz and Takazawa to create this network for the coming years and finally getting it off the ground this year. 

  ¨What are the things that make folks want to stay in Piedmont?¨ Muñoz said ¨One of those things is support groups, and that’s really how it started.”

  While the network is supported by PUSD, it is completely staff led. Takazawa and Muñoz lead the bi-monthly meetings where they provide space for staff of color to come together and talk to people who might better understand what they are going through and check in on how they are doing, Takazawa said. 

“As educators, so few people are asking us how we are doing. People appreciate having a chance to check in and talk,” Takazawa said.

 The meetings are all about community and connections. It is an open space for staff to talk about their shared experiences, as a teacher as well as a person of color. 

“You can create connections when you know I share something with you, and you understand, and I don’t even have to explain it,” Muñoz said. 

  They are looking into bringing speakers to future meetings, Takazawa said. At the end of each meeting, they always share food and celebrate, Muñoz said 

“The [staff] that come to it and participate, leave feeling cared for. It’s a difficult feeling to describe,” Muñoz said. The relatively new network is still working on expanding.

 “There’s not a lot of us, so the group is small, but we hope to grow it,” Muñoz said. The network is still very small because 81% of teachers in Piedmont are white, Muñoz said.

“One of my goals is to create a space where people who might feel like they’re alone are actually not alone,” Takazawa said. While a minority, the staff of color are still a strong community and group, she said. 

  In the end, Muñoz and Takazawa want this to be a normal part of the community, and continue to grow even after they are no longer working here. 

“It will be a group that continues even beyond just the two people who are spearheading it,” Muñoz said.

  Takazawa and Muñoz want students and staff to know and talk about this network.

 “I think it’s word of mouth. Getting what’s available out in public is so important,” Muñoz said.

  At the end of the day this affects students as well, Muñoz said.

 “As a student, you want happy teachers, you want the staff to come and get support right?” Muñoz said.

 The network  invites all staff of color to attend the future meetings, Muñoz said, with upcoming meetings on Dec. 17, Feb. 1, and April 18.

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Elles Krieckhaus, Staff Writer
Elles Krieckhaus (10) is a Staff Writer at TPH. Elles enjoys listening to music, and his favorite artists are Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, and Lauryn Hill. He also enjoys fashion and thrifting and plays water polo.
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