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NHEESS awards grant to the Cooperative Middle School in Exeter

The NH Educator Effectiveness for Student Success (NHEESS) initiative has awarded a grant to the Cooperative Middle School (CMS) in Exeter to support the school’s diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) work. The grant will allow CMS educators to further expand the planning, coordination and integration of such work already being done in all schools within SAU 16.

“The heart of our DEIJ work is to allow teachers and students to transfer knowledge to one another in our mission to create an equity-driven school,” said Patricia Wons, principal at CMS. “We recognize we are on a path toward growth in this work, and we’re looking forward to deepening our learning in what we can do to reflect, expand and strengthen our practices in supporting DEIJ.”

Much of the work CMS has done around DEIJ has been in small groups throughout the school. Teachers have created units of study emphasizing diversity. CMS launched a Diversity Project Club that meets regularly after school, and the CMS Alt Physical Education (PE) program supports students who may have physical challenges, which can hinder their ability to be a part of a typical physical education course.

NHEESS has been able to make three grants this fall that align with its mission and two core goals for the near term. Those goals are to develop leadership capacity in teachers to provide authentic opportunities to influence change in our schools and support the building of regional partnerships between local educations associations and educator preparation programs.

This is the first year CMS has been awarded a grant of this magnitude. The funds will allow CMS to create a cohesive team of leaders, provide a mentor textbook to each of the participants and establish more community partnerships that will further support its inclusive work.

CMC Social Studies Teacher Jake Goodwin helped create the Seacoast Educators for Equity (SEE), a collaborative network of teachers across the Seacoast dedicated to improving equity in their schools. He and Principal Wons will organize and lead the new DEIJ team at CMS.

“I’ve been on an active journey working to be more than just against racism but fully anti-racist,” Goodwin said. “By creating community partnerships, we at CMS can ensure equity among students, deepen our learning as educators and strengthen our practices around DEIJ.”

The goal of the DEIJ grant is to develop more school leaders, like Goodwin who will consider a greater equity lens in their work with students. By promoting and facilitating a collaborative culture of ownership for all educators, CMS can take greater steps toward creating an equity-focused school.

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