EQUITABLE INNOVATION GRANTS BLOG SERIESLeaders for Justice
Each year, the Los Angeles County Office of Education honors some of our most talented educators through the Teachers of the Year (TOY) awards program. We launched the TOY Equitable Innovation Grant program to invest in more dynamic teacher leaders, develop new strategies to help students, share best practices with other educators, and leverage the network of incredible TOY honorees. Each week we will feature grantees highlighting what they have done and continue to do for their schools.
This week’s TOY Blogpost is dedicated to Aditi Doshi.
Aditi Doshi describes High Tech LA as a “microcosm of American society” representing diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, so it was no shock to see students grappling with the racial turmoil and public health crises over the past year. Compelled by the clear need for student-led dialogue and action on racism, gender, and racial equality, Doshi and a group of students founded the HTLA Anti-Racism Group and Girls Group.
Students play a central role in both of these groups: “Our groups’ student leaders are focused on school-wide change and creating a more just and equitable school,” says Doshi. Peer-to-peer dialogue amongst the student body on issues of equity and inclusion is foundational to the group’s goals. Doshi recognizes that to empower students to make real change on campus, they must be equipped with the proper skills and knowledge to be effective leaders. “We want our student leaders to feel confident transforming our school into a more inclusive and just community.” With the help of the Teachers of the Year Equitable Innovation Grant program, Doshi will be provide social justice leadership training to over 40 HTLA Anti-Racism Group and Girls Group participants.
Doshi and HTLA will work together with the California Council for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) to provide social justice training dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry, and racism through education, conflict resolution, and advocacy. Students learn a wide array of leadership skills such as facilitation protocols and public speaking, while also building an extensive cache of knowledge about social justice. CCEJ incorporates experiential, social-emotional, and restorative justice learning opportunities in their training to create increased awareness around social inequities and empower students to make positive change.
“The program introduces and develops equity concepts and tangible leadership skills as students are trained to become circle keepers for powerful dialogues” Doshi explains. Students will put their skills into practice by leading community discussions, serving as peer mediators, and driving progress in other capacities as new challenges emerge.
Greater LA and HTLA hope that this is just the beginning of a long-term commitment to change. Real progress can only come through a consistent commitment to address the deep-seeded issues that have led to persistent inequity. The 40 young people that will receive training represent a great start, and we are confident that they will create a robust movement of student leaders that will make a difference now and in the future.