Kent ‚ÄčISD Diversity Initiative



Kent ISD will be a place where all persons feel welcomed, have a right to be treated equitably and without prejudice, and have a responsibility to treat others the same way.
~ Resolution adopted by Kent ISD Board on December 14, 2009

Working Together

Kent ISD school districts are building systems that Understand, Respect, and Embrace Cultural Differences by:

  • Providing curriculum and instructional programs that are culturally inclusive.
  • Fostering staff and students who have the will and ability to build relationships across differences.
  • Promoting the healing of racism and other forms of intolerance.


2016-2017 Kent ISD Diversity Professional Development


Nov. 7, 2016 – Leading Inclusion & Equity Workshop with UnityWorks Foundation
(Kent ISD School districts will also have access to School Climate Survey)

The workshop is designed to educate participants about living in a diverse society, to promote culturally-responsive teaching, to increase equity and reduce prejudice, to improve race relations, to close achievement and opportunity gaps, to foster an inclusive school culture, and to develop learning environments where all students can be successful.

Topics include our U.S. historical context around inclusion and equity; key multicultural concepts and vocabulary; overcoming prejudice and discrimination; practical strategies for achieving productive impact; and how to remain collectively accountable to our diversity vision. Expect a balance of group activity and open discussion; individual work; craft, storytelling and presentation.

Nov. 10, 2016 – Echoes and Reflections Teacher Training (Leaders in Holocaust Education)

As a result of legislation signed into law in June 2016 by Gov. Rick Snyder, curriculum at Michigan public schools must teach students about genocide, including the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide. The legislation amends the state school code to recommend a combined six hours of instruction regarding genocide between 8th and 12th grades. Kent ISD in partnership with Echoes and Reflection will offer a one day Holocaust curriculum training.

Echoes and Reflections is a comprehensive Holocaust education program that delivers professional development and a rich array of resources for middle and high school teachers. Echoes and Reflections prepares educators to teach about the Holocaust in a way that stimulates engagement and critical thinking while providing opportunities for students to see the relevance of this complex history to their own lives. It is a joint program of the Anti-Defamation League, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem.

Dec. 14, 2016 – Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty with Paul. C. Gorski

How might our strategies for teaching and relating with families in poverty change if we truly understood the barriers they experience - barriers that have nothing to do with their cultures or their attitudes about school or their desires to learn? In this presentation Paul C. Gorski will provide key insights into those challenges, how they affect the school experiences of low-income students, and how educators can mitigate them by providing equitable, engaging learning environments.

The book, Reaching and Teaching Student is Poverty, is available for an additional $25.00 fee (optional). Dr. Gorski draws from decades of research to deconstruct popular myths, misconceptions, and educational practices that undercut the achievement of low-income students. He carefully describes the challenges that students in poverty face and the resiliencies they and their families draw upon. Most importantly, this book provides specific, evidence-based strategies for teaching youth by creating equitable, bias-free learning environments. Written in an appealing conversational tone, this resource will help teachers and school leaders to better reach and teach students in poverty.

Jan. 18, 2017 – A Silent Crisis: Creating Safe Schools for Sexual Minority Youth Training with MDE

This workshop is designed to help educators and administrators understand, assess, and improve school climate and safety for all youth, especially those who identify as gay lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. Research consistently finds sexual minority youth to be at higher risk of homelessness, alcohol and substance abuse, harassment, assaults, suicide, school failure/dropout, and truancy. Some of the legal and ethical obligations that school systems and their employees have-to serve and protect this population-will be addressed.

Mar. 22, 2017 – Planning for Action: Next Steps in Creating Safe Schools for Sexual Minority Youth with MDE

This “201-level” workshop is specially designed for individuals who have participated in the Silent Crisis: Creating Safe Schools for Sexual Minority Youth workshop. Building on lessons learned, this more advanced session will strengthen participants' knowledge and skills to collaborate and foster district-wide impact. The focus will be on practical strategies such as building supportive networks, identifying resources for forming and sustaining gay-straight alliances (GSAs), and planning for action. Topics will include: impact of law and policy changes, supports for transgender and gender non-conforming students, and best practices for improving academic and health outcomes for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

12th Annual Diversity Kick-off

Excellence Through Equity: Five Principals of Courageous Leadership to Guide Achievement for Every Student

Held August 20, 2015

Keynote Speaker:  Pedro Noguera, Ph.D.

 Phto Pedro Noguera Goodsmile prefered


Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. He holds tenured faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development at NYU. He is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. Dr. Noguera is the author of eight books and over 200 articles and monographs. His most recent books are “Excellence Through Equity”, “School for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectory of African American and Latino Boys”, “Creating the Opportunity to Learn” with A. Wade Boykin (ASCD, 2011).  Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences/Sage for outstanding achievement in advancing the understanding of the behavioral and social sciences as they are applied to pressing social issues, the National Association of Secondary Principals for distinguished service to the field of education, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.

Diversity Kick-off Powerpoint Presentation Powerpoint Document

Diversity Kick-off Presentation PDF  PDF Document



Community Evening Event
The Achievement Gap and The Schools We Need

Held August 20, 2015 

Creating the Conditions Where Race and Class No Longer Predict Student Achievement. 

Pedro Noguera Evening Powerpoint Presentation Powerpoint Document


Pedro Noguera Evening Presentation PDF  PDF Document



Professional Development Opportunities:

Facing Racism with Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Institutes for Healing Racism with GRCC Diversity Learning Center

The Facing Racism and Institute for Healing Racism offers an intensive two-day experience. Because racism is a powerful force in our lives and community, the Institute challenges participants of all backgrounds to be part of an equally powerful dialogue. We provide the safe space and neutral guidance needed to help that dialogue emerge.


Past Events: 

11th Annual Diversity Kick-off Event

Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty

Was held Thursday, August 14, 2014

BookPaul C. Gorski was our featured keynote speaker. Paul C. Gorski is an associate professor of Integrative Studies in George Mason University's New Century College, where he teaches classes on class and poverty, educational equity, animal rights, and environmental justice.

How might our strategies for teaching and relating with families in poverty change if we truly understood the barriers they experience - barriers that have nothing to do with their cultures or their attitudes about school or their desires to learn? In this presentation Paul C. Gorski provided key insights into those challenges, how they affect the school experiences of low-income students, and how educators can mitigate them by providing equitable, engaging learning environments.

Presentations available for download:
Poverty Quiz (pdf)
Poverty Quiz (ppt)

Paul C. Gorski's Keynote Presentation (pdf)
Paul C. Gorski's Keynote Presentation (ppt) 

Aug. 14 - Title I Coordinators Workshop Presentation (ppt)
Aug. 15 - Reaching and Teaching Workshop Presentation (ppt)

Paul C. Gorski shared a chapter from his book Cultivating Social Justice Teachers book:
Teaching Against Essentialism and the "Culture of Poverty"

The appendix includes instructions for the Art Project activitie and click here for the Student Sheets . Contact Julie Mushing with any questions. 


Julie Mushing
Diversity Coordinator

E-mail:  JulieMushing@KentISD.org
Phone:  616-301-8847

Our Goal

The goal for our Diversity initiative is to focus the ISD and all of our districts on diversity and healing racism to improve student achievement. Strategies include leadership/coordination for county-wide efforts, educational opportunities and communication.

District Diversity Goals and Indicators (PDF)

District Diversity Rubric (PDF)



DIVERSITY is the existence of an environment in which there is an awareness and understanding leading to a valuing and embracing that many perspectives exist in the world.

HEALING RACISM is the condition and environment where racism is intentionally and actively addressed in individual attitudes and institutional policies/practices.

EQUITY is when all students receive the individualized support they need to reach and exceed a common standard.