Hello Hillside Community –
The Hillside “School Action Team for Partnership” Committee on Social Justice ( HSJ )was formed at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. We are volunteers, parents,teachers, staff, and administrators from the Hillside Elementary School
Community—and you are invited to join us! This school year, we are working on three initiatives aimed to make Hillside a more inclusive and welcoming place.
RACIAL LITERACY FOR ADULTS
● We plan to host a workshop or a series of workshops for parents, teachers, and community members in order to create a safe place to discuss issues around race, equity, implicit bias, and social emotional learning. Our goal is to build a community of parents and caregivers who have racial literacy and who feel welcome, included, and seen in the school. We use this definition of racial literacy: “practices designed by parents and others to teach their children how to
recognize, respond to, and counter forms of everyday racism. The emphasis here is on teaching (people) how to identify routine forms of racism and to
develop strategies for countering it and coping with it.”
STUDENT VOICES—RACIAL LITERACY AND SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
● Our goal is to work with Hillside educators to create an environment where students feel supported in talking through experiences with racism and
microaggressions, and receive guidance in finding solutions. Among our planned actions is to build a library that educators can use to facilitate age-appropriate conversations in classrooms about racial bias and the effects of negative interactions. Students will then be able to provide feedback through writing activities and ongoing SEL discussions and may be invited to join Mrs. Scott for follow up discussion.
● Borrowing from Nishuane’s Cultural Infusion Program, we would like to celebrate and create awareness of various cultures so that students feel seen, honored, and appreciated. We are working on developing a CALENDAR OF CULTURALEVENTS, including people from outside and within the Hillside community to speak to students (during or after school hours) or provide educational, culturally relevant programs. In the meantime… in the spirit of New Year’s RESOLUTIONS, we recommend you RESOLVE to create more opportunities for reading and discussing issues around Social Justice, Diversity, Implicit Bias, and Equity. Consider GIFTING one of the books at the bottom of this letter. Or join one of the many Montclair organizations addressing racism and inequality on a local level. Some of these initiatives come from the Montclair PTAC’s EAROG Committee (Equity Anti-Racism and Opportunity Gap Committee), as well as MFEE’s “Excellence in Equity Initiative” and “America to Me: Real Talk Montclair” program. HSJ members are in touch with colleagues in all of these groups as well as with SATp contacts at Nishuane.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about any of these Initiatives or working with the Hillside Social Justice Committee. Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful winter break,
Jennifer Di Lullo
Hillside SATp Social Justice Committee Administrator
SUGGESTED BOOKS for GRADES 3-5
New Kid by Jerry Craft 2019 (Grades 3-7), Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Award Graphic novel about Jordan Banks, who wants to go to art school but whose parents send him to Riverdale Academy Day School, where he is one of only a handful of students of color in the prestigious private school. Sequel: Class Act , 2020
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the World by Kwame Mbalia
2019 (Grades 3-7), Coretta Scott King Honor
On his first night at his grandma’s farm, where he is healing after a bus accident, Tristan Strong punches a tree and accidentally opens a chasm to a world at war where he must ally with Black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit to get back home.
Sequel: Tristan Strong Destroys the World , 2020
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
2013 (Grades 4-7)
It is 1936, and Deza Malone’s father has to leave Gary, IN, to find work. Deza, her mother, and brother set off to find him, and come up against the devastation of the Great Depression. Companion to Bud, Not Buddy .*
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
2019 (Grades 3-7)
Benji and Red seem to have little in common, but they have both encountered a strange presence in the forest. Could it be that the Madman of Piney Woods is real? Companion novel to Elijah of Buxton .
Some Places More than Others , Renee Watson
2019 (Grades 4-7)
Amara, age 12, travels to Harlem in NYC to meet her father’s father, her aunt, and her cousins, and to learn about herself.
Betty Before X , Shabazz, Ilyasa; and Watson, Renee ,
2018 (Grades 5-9)
A beautifully written fictionalized telling of the early life of Betty Shabazz, civil rights leader and widow of Malcolm X. Ilyasa Shabazz is the daughter of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X.
*Read this year in fifth-grade classes. All other books are published in 2018-2020