The Engaging Schools Board of Directors is pleased to present the first Deborah Childs-Bowen Leadership for Equity Award to Dr. Charlos Banks and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools District Code and Task Force Teams. The award was created to honor the life and work of Dr. Deborah Childs-Bowen, who served on our Board for twelve years, providing leadership as Board Chair for seven of those years until she passed away in December 2019. The award will be given each year to a team of people in a district or school that is working in partnership with Engaging Schools and making a significant and demonstrable effort to advance equity.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) serves a diverse community of 12,000 students who speak 75 languages. It has been recognized across North Carolina for its high student achievement. However, it is also known nationally for disparities in student outcomes for students of color (Black Males, Black Females, and Latinos), English Learners, and students with disabilities. Dr. Charlos Banks, Senior Executive Director of Student Services, says, “Our district has made a commitment to equity in dismantling the systemic structures, policies, and procedures that present barriers to all students obtaining equitable access to success. By addressing these inequities, including institutional racism and privilege, the district strives to create a safe and socially affirming environment for all students, staff, and families.

CHCCS has articulated its commitment to equity through seven governing principles:

  1. Preparing all students to succeed in a multicultural, global society
  2. Fostering family and community engagement
  3. Improving school climate to create schools where everyone feels welcomed, valued, safe, and supported
  4. Providing all students with personalized strategies, resources, opportunities, and a restorative mindset
  5. Enhancing all employees’ and board members’ awareness and capacity to identify and eradicate all gaps that exist and impede student success
  6. Removing all barriers that exist within systems, outdated practices, and policies
  7. Ensuring every student has equitable access to rigorous and culturally relevant curriculum, diverse and culturally competent teachers and staff, and personalized learning supports

CHCCS is actualizing these principles in many ways, including through its partnership with Engaging Schools, which began in 2019. We supported District Code and Task Force Teams in the recalibration of CHCCS’s Code of Conduct, which was renamed the Community Code of Character, Conduct, and Support. The writing of the Code involved a diverse group of community members who shared issues, concerns, and solutions for addressing equity in CHCCS. Their input provided a shared language and vision for building a culture that is safe and socially affirming for all students.

Engaging Schools also provided professional learning on practices to support equity-centered classrooms that are culturally responsive and developmentally informed. Workshop topics included classroom management, classroom instruction and accountable, restorative discipline, bias awareness and interrupting bias, and the integration of social and emotional learning, all in the service of academic engagement and student achievement for all students. 

In response to the selection of CHCCS as the first award recipient, Engaging Schools Board Chair Angela Hernandez said, “Establishing this award in Deborah’s name honors her significant contributions to supporting leaders focused on educational equity. Doing this work means necessarily disrupting education systems and cultures never intended to serve all students. It means moving beyond comfort zones and pushing ourselves to build new systems, policies, and structures. Engaging Schools had a champion in Deborah; she had a vision for this work. Dr. Banks and her team have developed a vision for their schools and, with support from the remarkable Engaging Schools staff, are steeped in challenging and exciting change work intended to help all students succeed in school and life. We are so pleased to bestow the first Deborah Childs-Bowen Leadership for Equity Award on Dr. Charlos Banks and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools District Code and Task Force Teams.”

About Deborah Childs-Bowen

Deborah Childs-Bowen was passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and about creating schools where each and every young person felt welcomed and could thrive. Having received a Master’s in Special Education from Howard University and a Doctorate in Education from Nova University, Deborah spent her life working to improve teacher training and the delivery of quality education for children. She consulted and trained educators throughout the United States and around the world and co-authored the book, The Principal Influence: A Framework for Developing Leadership Capacity in Principals.

Deborah’s world-class intellect, her understanding of leadership and all that is needed for good teaching and learning, and her respect for school leaders, teachers, and students permeated everything she did. Through her own work, her work with Engaging Schools, and her work with other organizations, she touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.

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