SPRINGFIELD — 40 people, all with one goal: Making the Springfield Public School system a more inclusive district that can relate to students of all demographics.
The Springfield Public Schools Equity and Diversity Advisory Council began to dive into some of the issues that students face in the district.
The first meeting was a couple of weeks ago, but those on the council say it was really just an introductory meeting to get to know each of its unique members.
On Tuesday, the council started laying out a plan to improve diversity within SPS.
Those 40 members were carefully selected, and Co-Chair of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Council Jill Patterson says she felt honored to be involved in that process.
“We do like enough people so that we have a diverse body that comes with different viewpoints, different expertise,” says Patterson.
Co-chair Wes Pratt is a pillar in the African-American community in Springfield. He is the Chief Diversity Officer at Missouri State.
He says this group is using tonight to layout their principals, but he talked about what some of their long term goals are as well.
“To begin with, there has got to be a heightened cultural consciousness of not only the administrators but everybody throughout the school district. I think our students need to be much more aware of the contributions that all have made to the history of America, as well as to the history of Springfield. There needs to be an increase in the number of diverse teachers when the school district is rapidly changing demographically,” Pratt says.
In addition to laying the groundwork for the council’s strategy, they also hosted their future Chief Officer of the council, Yyvania Garcia-Pusateri. She worked closely with Pratt at Missouri State in the office of inclusion and diversity.
She doesn’t start in her role until September 9, and was only observing this evening. Pratt thinks she brings the total package to the council.
“I think she brings the energy, expertise, knowledge, and the commitment to ensure that all of our students are successful in the district,” says Pratt.
Garcia-Pusateri was not available for interview quite yet as she has not officially started in her role, but she did tell me she is looking forward to applying some of the things she did at MSU to the SPS district.
If you want to dive more into what was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, you can visit sps.org/equity.