- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Educators learn, grow and celebrate at Transformative Equity Experience
More than a hundred Cherry Creek Schools educators attended the inaugural Transformative Equity Experience (TEE) at the end of May with four days of sessions, student performances, and keynote speakers with one goal in mind: to find hope in community and support educators in growing their knowledge and skills.
“Having an event like this is really important for educators so we can truly help and support our students to be their authentic selves on a regular basis,” said Blakely Wallace, principal at Thunder Ridge Middle School.
The event began with Beyond Diversity, a two-day professional development session that introduced educators to ways of talking about race and working to eliminate racial achievement disparities. The third and fourth days included sessions on affinity groups, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), amplifying student voice, supporting LGBTQ+ students, and more.
For many attendees, the event was a way to learn and continue growing in their practice. For Zelda Alao, instructional Excellence RAISE coach, the event was fulfilling and grounding.
“I needed this to reground myself in my ‘why,’” shared Alao. “Because at the end of the day, I’m here for kids. We come into this knowing we want to do better for kids.”
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dr. Michael Benitez served as keynote speakers on the final two days. There were multiple student performances during the event as well as student question-and-answer panels on diversity, immigrant, and queer representation.
Members of the community performed, including the United Indigenous Dancers, Spirit of Cambodia, Jose “Jozer” Guerrero, Queen of Peace Ballet Folklorico, Halau Kalama, and Jovan Mays.
The Overland Step Team performed during the lunch break on Friday and shared how meaningful this event was to them as students. As a team, they would like to share:
“It felt encouraging to get to perform in front of everyone. Hearing their cheers means so much because we don’t always get as much support as other groups. We have built this team to be a family and a safe space. As students, we can tell the difference between teachers who really care and those who are here for a paycheck. Having the opportunity to show what we can do and get better is something that every student in this district deserves. It means a lot that adults are here to learn to support students better.”