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Diversity and Inclusion

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July 16, 2021  

Dear Hastings Families, Faculty and Staff,  

Both regionally and nationally, there have been growing discussions and media coverage regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within schools. Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is not synonymous with DEI, has become a significant focus and is emerging as a source of polarization across the country.  

As a result, even in these summer months, we are receiving many questions about how Hastings is approaching the essential work of DEI and its relationship to CRT. To clarify, we are committed to a collaborative approach that is grounded in the State’s expectations, as outlined in the New York State Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education Framework. This Framework is predicated on four principles: 

1) Creating welcoming and affirming environments
2) Ensuring high expectations and rigorous instruction
3) Designing inclusive curriculum and assessment
4) Providing ongoing professional learning and support.  

As indicated in the Framework, “a guiding principle of asset-based pedagogies is that a culturally responsive-sustaining approach to teaching and learning benefits a broad range of stakeholders.” This means focusing on the strengths of our students and recognizing that diversity is positive and beneficial to all.  

Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, and I have been working closely together to finalize a three year plan for DEI. It incorporates outcomes and action steps that couple expectations from the recently released New York State Education Department Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education Implementation Roadmap with the Hastings’ professional learning goals, which were developed collaboratively this spring with administrators and teachers, Dr. Mateo-Toledo, Dr. Detra Price-Dennis, and me.    

As a point of pride, Hastings has been a local leader in DEI efforts for many years. We will continue to shine in this area as we recognize that together we are better. We will be sure to provide regular updates on our shared work and progress.    

Best regards,   
Melissa Szymanski
Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction

Diversity and Inclusion

Jenice Mateo-Toledo






Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo 
Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion

Our Hastings-on-Hudson learning community has not shied away from courageous conversations about race and racism. As a school district, we recognize that being non-racist is not enough. We must work toward being anti-racist, and have an obligation to support our teachers, students, and community members. Last year, members of the Diversity Committee read the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and engaged in discussions about issues pertaining to race and racism. One outcome we identified for our work moving forward was to prepare a Racial Literacy Toolkit. We remain committed to supporting all of you as we engage in these conversations with each other and with students. We acknowledge that these conversations are often uncomfortable, but discussions explicitly about race and social justice are essential. Below are some resources to consider using to support productive reflection and promote engaging discussions about racism in our world and how to actively be anti-racist in our day-to-day lives. Together, we will continue to be an active community of advocates for equality, social justice, and culturally responsive practices. Members of the Hastings Diversity Committee, Race Matters Committee, Parenting Children of Color (P-CoC), faculty, students, and Hastings R.I.S.E. will continue to work in partnership to discuss and impact issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diversity Committee  •  Race Matters Committee
Hastings R.I.S.E.  •  Parenting Children of Color (P-CoC)

Diversity and equity can be difficult topics to discuss with your child, but these conversations are important to have. Please refer to the links below for helpful information. 

Racial Justice Resources