CHS Implements Inclusion Training For Teachers

Josh Champagne, School News Editor

A new movement is taking place this year at CHS with the new inclusion of Social Justice leaders diversity training for teachers. The idea behind this new training is to equip teachers and administration with a toolkit to be able to welcome minority students into a predominantly white and homogenous community. 

“I taught in Detroit for several years. In terms of student demographics Detroit public schools have a majority black student population,” Melissa Helburg said. “It was a really huge shift coming to Chelsea.” 

This shift comes from the lack of diversity found inside CHS. 

“I’ve seen firsthand the vast differences between the schools,” Helburg said. “We live less than 60 miles apart from each other, yet we live in these pockets where different cultures and races seem to gather together. It doesn’t help that statistically speaking Michigan is the most segregated state in the United States.” 

With a widely segregated state, different cultures and groups of people are having less interaction with one another causing a rift between groups of people.  

“Our nation is changing, 20 years ago the demographics were different in Michigan between white and minority populations, “ Doctor Luman Strong said.

“A lot of our teachers came from similar backgrounds in Chelsea. We have very few teachers who grew up in cities like Chicago or Philadelphia for example. With this in mind most of our teachers don’t have a lot of prior background when it comes to being around minority students.” 

When groups of people come together that have little experience of others, ignorance and biases come into play and the new implementation of social justice training helps to provide teachers a toolset to help minority students feel more welcomed inside the classroom. 

“We’ve only had one session so far,” English teacher Amanda Knop said. “We spent that session talking about our different identities. Your identity can be anything from your gender to your social class. Then we talked about how those identities influence us and how they influence how we perceive the world around us. With each identity comes a degree of power, for example here at Chelsea we have to acknowledge our privilege and the fact that we’re mostly a white school.” 

Seeing a problem and realizing that there must be a solution is a key first step to self improvement. CHS is trying to improve its overall environment by taking taboo issues and putting them out in the open for all to see. 

Minority students at CHS have all seen their fair share of struggles throughout the day. 

“I realized it when I was in seventh grade, I knew what it was, I just knew I didn’t want to tell anybody because of the simple fact that I knew nobody was like me,” Matty Rosentreter (‘21) said. “I properly came out my sophomore year and the response was terrible. I sometimes feel like people are uncomfortable around me. I usually try to avoid using the bathroom when it’s super populated because people will look at me and make comments under their breath.” 

It’s situations like this that Social Justice training is trying to prevent. Although individual biases towards minority students are hard to change, with education situations like Matty’s will decrease at CHS. 

“CHS to me is a home,” Strong said. “With how much time I spend here I do consider this school a home away from home. Like every home, the goal is to make it as welcoming as possible to every student that walks through the doors.” 

Establishing a community atmosphere is the most important job for staff at CHS, especially to new transfer students. 

“I transferred here my sophomore year, and people always thought it was funny to say mean things about the color of my skin,” Jaylen Watson (‘20) said. “ On that same note there’s nothing wrong with being different. I think it’s really beneficial to be exposed to different perspectives as it creates new tolerances for issues.” 

Through this training, teachers will be implanting new techniques and activities to help educate students and promote an all inclusive atmosphere at CHS.