SASD Hosts Race Discussion

Stoughton Board of Education Hosts a Virtual Community Conversation on Race

Zack DeGroff, Staff Writer

Graphic used from SASD website

The Board of Education hosted a virtual community conversation on Sept. 24.

After the death of George Floyd and the surge of urgency around racial issues nationwide, the Board of Education started developing a racial equity resolution.

In addition to the resolution, they hosted a race discussion event called Race In Our Community: A Community Conversation. The meeting was held over zoom at 7 p.m.

Molly Shea is the Community information and Resource Coordinator at the district office. Shea promoted the event through emails and on the district website, as well as worked on other small committees on the board.

  When putting the event together, staff partnered with a consulting group of restorative justice practitioners called Small Fire. Small Fire members Rudy Bankston and Mara McGlynn facilitated the conversation.

“As soon as we knew we wanted it to be a conversation or community based, we said, ‘Well, we want to make it a really safe space for people.’ One of the ways we thought to do that was to hire these professionals who are experts in facilitating conversations about race, restorative justice that […] were not a part of our community already,” Shea says.

Bankston and McGlynn gave a presentation about primary and secondary justice, as well as personal examples and experiences. They shared some guidelines about how to have a robust conversation, how to listen, and let others speak.

It was just a good way of understanding where people stand within the community and how they feel about race relations.”

— Jenny Phillips

“Our goals were primarily to get the community engaged in the conversation around race. It’s not one that all of us have all the time when really it is a conversation that we should be having. […] It’s to let the community know, even if you aren’t attending this particular event or can’t attend this particular event, we’re talking about it and it’s happening. We really wanted to market the event to people who maybe don’t engage in conversation about race,” Shea says.

After the presentation, the participants broke out into breakout sessions. During the breakout, participants were able to engage with each other in small groups. One of those participants was Jenny Phillips, a parent of a student at SHS.

“There were a lot of people who shared some stories of their own personal experiences in Stoughton. Whether it was positive or negative, people had the option of sharing either or both if they experienced both in the community. It was just a good way of understanding where people stand within the community and how they feel about race relations,” Phillips says.

The board has already been talking about future events. Some possible ideas are workshops to engage educational work, book reads, and a community movie and a discussion that would follow. “One thing I would love to see more of [for] coming events is to get more student perspective […], because I don’t think we had that or had enough of that,” Shea says.

You can find information on future events and resources on the SASD website under Education for Equity.