Claxton Elementary Social Justice League Mission Statement: Claxton’s Social Justice League seeks to cultivate and promote racial equity and social justice in our school and community. By listening to our families, opening dialogues with our teachers, and changing our practices to better serve our students, we strive to grow our work with trust in each other, the process, and ourselves to a place of deeper understanding and respect for all.
We are a group of teachers, instructional assistants, support staff, caregivers, and administrators that meet monthly to focus on social justice issues for our staff, students and families. Our team has created and delivered professional development, family and community workshops and engagement events, and activities for our school community in order to discuss race and both historical and current inequities. Our team feels that by creating an intentional space for discussing race and other identities among our staff and students, we can work towards learning more about ourselves and our community.
In 2013, Claxton Elementary's Racial Equity Team received funding from the Asheville City Schools Foundation to provide professional development for our staff on racial equity topics. With the help and support of Craig White Consulting, a group with experience of working with non-profits, we created group norms and a common language in order to talk about race and racism in education.
In 2014, Claxton staff identified the following racial disparities that we felt exist in our school community:
- parental/family involvement,
- student leadership roles,
- food & nutrition,
- Academically/Intellectually Gifted program,
- technology/access to information, messaging, and
- staff composition.
In this first year, we also developed the 'Family Voices' nights in order to provide a space for families of color to describe to us their experience at Claxton. This space was intentionally created to listen and not to "talk at" our families. Our Media Center mural was a result of student self-portraits during Family Voices nights in 2014-2015. This project was in response to a messaging disparity our staff identified where students of color are not often represented in books or artwork. This was the beginning of creating more culturally responsive and diverse learning spaces.
During the 2015-2016 school year, our team decided to focus on the discipline and student leadership disparities. Staff, especially those who facilitated student clubs, were encouraged to consider referring back to our foundational structural racism training, implicit bias and microaggressions trainings via a racial equity lens to ensure that these student groups mirrored the racial demographics of our student population.
Starting in 2017-18, we no longer received funding from the Asheville City Schools Foundation, but wanted to continue to provide training and workshops for our staff and families. The Claxton Racial Equity Team became the Claxton Social Justice League, in order to broaden our work to include the intersectionality of many identities including LGBTQ+ and Immigrant rights within racial justice. We became self-funded and developed community partnerships in order to continue our work.
Currently, our Claxton Social Justice League continues to meet monthly in order to support the needs of our school and community with a racial equity lens.