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Montclair Public Schools have joined the National Equity Project’s Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network, a cohort of 16 districts from across the United States, committed to the goal of “centering the wellbeing of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth and communities in our education system.”

“We could not be more excited and honored to be working with the National Equity Project,” the district’s assistant superintendent of equity, curriculum and instruction, Kalisha Morgan, wrote in an announcement from the school system. “They are truly the leaders in this work, and there is no better time to be centering the social emotional health and academic success of our students.”

The network is an intensive two-year program for districts that have “committed to dream, disrupt and co-design more equitable, healing-centered, and joyful purposes of school and approaches to teaching and learning in partnership with BIPOC students,” the announcement said.

“What makes the BELE Network different is it isn’t some rigid prescription or framework we are buying into and then making it fit for Montclair,” Morgan wrote in the announcement. “Instead it is an ongoing partnership to develop, create, support and change our schools in partnership with all the very people who are our school community: administrators, teachers, and students.”

The announcement said Montclair’s diverse BELE Design Team of 20 administrators, teachers and students will meet monthly to provide leadership coaching, as well as ongoing in-district meetings and inquiries to support the team’s work. Teams will work to co-design a system that centers the whole child’s well-being and racial equity “from the classroom all the way up to the systemic level,” the announcement said.

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