Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director Shantelle Castle will work with students and staff school-wide as well as individually to find ways that IACS can promote inclusivity and be a better cultural environment overall.
The Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position is a new role to IACS which will focus on many areas regarding diversity. “In a brief summary, I work on events, curriculum, hiring, restorative practices, finding inequities and also the different ways that we can improve,” Castle, who joined the IACS community this year, summarized.
One of her main areas of focus is the Racial Justice Committee. “I’ll be overseeing the Racial Justice Committee, providing them some additional support and serving as an admin-liaison.” she explained.
Castle is also working on supporting the staff in making the school curriculum more culturally responsive.“For instance, we’ve been looking at Indigenous People’s Day and different ways we can incorporate learning from Native American and Indigenous perspectives.” she said. “I also have standing meetings with some teachers who want to revise their entire curriculum.”
Her work does not only involve cultural inclusivity, as she is a licensed school social worker through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as a clinical social worker for the state of Massachusetts. “I’ve partnered with the counseling department on some ways that we can make mental and emotional health more inclusive to our community.” Castle said. In addition, she is being trained through the Restorative Justice program at Suffolk University, and over the course of the next 3-4 years will work to “shift the lens” to a restorative approach.
Another area of focus for Castle is the inclusivity of student transportation. “Transportation is top of the list in the ways that it creates barriers for students engaging in sports and extracurricular activities.”
Castle is already implementing many new strategies to help the school be more culturally responsive. In September, Crocodile River Music performed at IACS to share African culture and music with the school, and Castle worked with Ms. Ringwall earlier this year to organize that event. She is also reaching out to other multicultural organizations to display art in the future from different and diverse backgrounds.
“I’ve put out some surveys to middle school advisories on school culture, and we’re taking a lot of that feedback and determining what assemblies and events could be helpful to address some of those needs.” Castle said. She visited middle school advisories during September to introduce herself and hopes to do the same with high school in October and November.
“I hope students feel more than welcome to come into my office and have pleasant and engaging conversations,” Castle expressed “but also if there are challenges I can be of support to those students.”