iLEAD and Maker Learning Network Staff Reflect on Equity Work

iLEAD Schools and Maker Learning Network have embarked on an equity training journey to serve the learners, families, staff and communities of iLEAD more effectively. In addition to ongoing professional learning, this work has seen the launch of an Equity Task Force. 

Over the past several months, leaders at iLEAD and MLN have been diving deep into this work. Together, they’ve learned about mental blueprints of inequity on each person’s life experiences, ABAR (anti-bias, antiracist) education, implicit bias, bias-based beliefs, compassionate dialogue, allies vs. coconspirators, and so much more. 

As with every endeavor in project-based learning, the work begins with driving questions. The questions for equity training at iLEAD and MLN are highly personal and reflective for all staff members. Examples include the following:

  • What do you believe equity means? 
  • What would an equitable organization look like and feel like?
  • What can you as a leader do to achieve a vision of an equitable organization?

We asked several iLEAD and MLN staff members to share their reflections about this journey thus far.

After this initial equity training, what takeaways do you have already?

“I think the biggest takeaway is remembering to hold space for others’ ideas, thoughts, and opinions, even when they are different from our own.”
— Amanda Buchheit, iLEAD Speech Language/AT Coordinator

“I realized that there is a spectrum to this sort of work. It is ongoing, and there is no end date/goal. Everyone, even the most educated on the subject of equity, can grow through this process.”
— Sara McDaniels, iLEAD Arts and Community Outreach Coordinator

“I really took away the idea that we have a space between judgment and action to decide what we want to do. That gives a sense of autonomy to the growth process.”
— Kate Wolfe, iLEAD Online Program Coordinator

“My awareness and education began with the George Floyd incident and has just continued to progress. My daughter is instrumental in expanding my past learning, and the training just put things in digestible bites.”
— Margaret Wassner, iLEAD New Facilitator Support and Development

“My biggest takeaway is how to approach difficult conversations to come from a place of understanding. I was given the tools to be able to effectively practice that skill, and I feel great about that.”
— Sarah Bennett, iLEAD Spring Meadows Assistant Site Director

What has changed for you?

“My hopelessness. After listening and understanding certain things and where people are coming from, it allowed me to start feeling that tiny bit of hope. That I can make a difference in what the future will look like.”
— Laura Henriquez, iLEAD Coordinator of Office Systems and Staff

“I want to be part of the conversation for change.”
— Myron Breitstein, iLEAD Director of Risk Management, Administrative Support

“My ability to be quiet. It is not like me to just listen. Too often, I tend to take over. I’m going to mindfully manage my reactions and input going forward. I felt that my quietness was needed to assist others with their voices being heard.”
— Kristan Van Houten, Maker Learning Network Regional Outreach Coordinator

What’s next for you in this ongoing pursuit of greater equity?

“I’m going to seek to understand others and be aware how I can be a champion for equity across the board.”
— Espi Briones, Maker Learning Network Corporate Compliance & Projects Mgr.

“I will continue to pursue honesty, justice and equity. I will no longer sit quiet and let the status quo define me or others. I am a speaker at the Leading Equity Conference in January.”
— Farnaz Kaufman, iLEAD Director of Global Education Initiatives

“I am taking the 21-day Equity Challenge to make sure I keep this in the forefront of my mind.”
— Sarah Bennett, iLEAD Spring Meadows Assistant Site Director

“Continue to advocate and amplify those who are often undervalued.”
— Erin Jones, iLEAD Director Online Programs

“I’m going to find a mentor to support my growth in this area.”
— Nicole Huguenin, Maker Learning Network Director of Arts Integration and Play Maker

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