Inclusion Working Group
Who We Are:
The Inclusion Working Group is a dedicated subgroup of the PTSA focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our district. The IWG is open to any active members of the PTSA.
The IWG strives to play an organized and distinct role, while remaining flexible and open to meeting the needs of the community as they arise. This means that we respond to incidents of hate, racism, or oppression with strength and consistency, and we advocate for ongoing, meaningful change in our district. We seek to balance these goals through communication – as a channel for keeping ourselves and others connected and informed – and accountability – as a persistent voice for challenging the status quo.
All efforts of the IWG are held in service to the following mission: to work in collaboration with our district to see and uphold the humanity of each individual in the face of real and persistent inequities in our community.
What We Do:
The Multicultural Book Fair is the only book fair in Westchester to focus on writers and illustrators of color in all genres. The IWG has worked closely with the school district’s Diversity Coordinator, Jenice Mateo-Toledo, and the Race Matters Committee since 2016 to run this annual June event celebrating authors and stories that are too often marginalized or erased. Representation, belonging, and the celebration of our differences are what make this event both special and essential. Authors who have joined us for book signings include Veera Hiranandani, Sheela Chari, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Eric Velazquez, John Jay Gabray, and Jerry Craft.
Also in June is Hastings PRIDE, a community event to celebrate rights and equality for LGBTQIA2S+ people near and far. Past years have included live music, art projects, kid-friendly fun, and an IWG-sponsored fundraising opportunity for the Hastings High School Gay Straight Alliance. Thanks in part to Mayor Niki Armacost’s recognition, this is an annual event.
In the 2021-22 school year, the IWG and Rivertown Parents co-hosted an evening with Dhamey Norgay, adventure traveler, advocate for Sherpa culture, and son of the first person to summit Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Learn more about Dhamey Norgay’s work.
In the 2020-21 school year, the IWG and Rivertown Parents co-hosted Richard Blanco, poet laureate for the Obama administration, for a zoom presentation to parents and other community members about belonging and feeling included. As the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve as a presidential inaugural poet, Blanco shared how his identity informs his poetry. The National Poetry Month Event was funded by the Hastings Education Foundation as part of the Racial Equity Day curriculum created by Jenice Mateo-Toledo. Learn more about Blanco’s work.
Also in the 2020-21 school year, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz spoke to parents and community members near and far about her Archaeology of the Self framework, an action-oriented process that incorporates love, humility, reflection, an understanding of history, and a commitment to working against racial injustice. In an effort to bridge the gap between school and home in learning and reflecting on the impact of racism in our lives, her talk was funded by the PTSA and coordinated with help from Jenice Mateo-Toledo and Rivertown Parents. Learn more about Sealey-Ruiz’s work.