Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force Members

  • I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...

    William Ackerman, RMS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I want to ensure that all members of the RCSD community were represented and felt that they had a voice in the message that the district presented.

    Kristen Avery, Former Student
    I joined the group to be part of the community effort to pave the way to create a more safe and supportive school experience for students. I've been part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts at the organization I work for and wanted to bring that experience to this Task Force. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and having gone through the full RSCD experience, I wanted to bring my perspective to the group. My personal goal and wish for my work in the task force is to be able to bring important resources that will further the community's education around DEI.

    Simon Berk, RMS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I wanted to help improve the experience for all students in Rye schools and my classroom, in particular. 

    Cody Blume, RMS Teacher
    As a Social Studies teacher, especially an American history teacher, I have always found it important to have students reflect on how far we have come as a nation. It is through reflection that our nation has grown, improved, and changed. My hope with this Task Force is that we as a district can begin to reflect on the areas that need improvement and ensure that all students have equal access to all the opportunities our schools provide.  I also have a Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling. My coursework has allowed me to understand and interpret social behaviors as well as how to guide discussions on difficult topics in a sensitive way.

    Dan Brown, RHS and RMS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because I hope...That we better see our students and hear them. That we better attend to their needs and not make assumptions based on what we perceive a Rye student to be. That we provide avenues for all our students to feel they have a voice in their education and a safe space to learn and grow.

    Eric Byrne, School District Administrator
    As a teacher, school administrator, and parent, I am committed to providing inclusive learning environments for all students and staff and to having a strong school community of acceptance where all feel welcome and supported.

    Heather Cabot Khemanl, Parent
    I applied because I care about our community and as a parent of biracial, interfaith children, I am very concerned about their experiences and how they move through the school system. I am also increasingly worried and outraged by the rise of hate speech, intolerance, and white supremacist violence across our deeply polarized country ignited by viral propaganda and conspiracy theories. I want to do my part to stand up against it and to ensure all children and their families feel heard, valued and most importantly, safe in our community.  My goal is that our work will shine a light on the past shortcomings and chart a path forward with practical steps for creating a more inclusive, informed and unified school system and city at large.

    Vanessa Caine, RMS Guidance Counselor
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As a Black woman faculty member, I have experienced racism while at working at RMS.  Also I have had situations where my students of color experienced racism.

    Carolyn Chapman, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I am committed to supporting an inclusive environment--broadly speaking--in the RCSD. This may mean curriculum development, student/faculty education, community education, bystander training... Determining how the RCSD can support and foster an inclusive learning community -- and carrying out the steps to do so--is the work of the Task Force.

    Sara Charles, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...To participate in the creation of new systems that will ensure a commitment to diversity and tolerance in the RCSD and alignment with NY state curriculum standards. To ensure that women and people of diverse backgrounds are fairly represented and encouraged to find leadership roles in RCSD despite the current demographics of the administration.

    Megan Chun, Current Student
    I joined the task force because I want to make a difference in this community. I have experienced a lot of racism in Rye, especially throughout middle school, and I know how alienating and horrible it can feel. These Rye Middle School children were a product of a sheltered, undiversified, and prejudiced environment that did nothing to educate them. I am here to take action, because if I have the opportunity to use my story to speak out and inspire change, I want to. I don't think our community should be tolerant of things like this anymore, and I want to be a part of the change.

    Sandy Degenhardt, RHS Social Worker
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force for...Professional and personal reasons. I wish to be a key person involved in the necessary work that needs to be done in order to support our students and my colleagues.

    José María Moreno Domínguez, RHS Teacher
    Being both a parent and a teacher in Rye made me not hesitate to join the Task Force. I want to be part of it and help build a better community.

    John Donovan, Parent

    Michelle Eaton, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because I...Wanted to improve connections & relationships for students of color attending schools.

    Stacey Egan, Parent, Former student, Midland School staff
    I grew up here in Rye and am a parent and employee of the district. The experiences I had being a Jewish student still haunt my children when they went through the district. I also work in Special Education and see the challenges the students face everyday in the community. A change needs to happen.

    Julie Engerran, Parent
    I love so many things about life in Rye, and naively accepted the lack of diversity as one of a few cons when choosing this community.  Over time, though, I have grown to understand the true limitations of an education that is not culturally responsive and equitable.  I am saddened to learn about the negative experiences of students within our district and am working to cultivate my own equity lens, ask hard questions and to avoid assumptions.  I would love to see our community work together to both eliminate the explicit discrimination and inequities inherent in these negative experiences and to create deliberate systems and supports to achieve an equitable and inclusive learning environment in our schools.

    Jen Fall, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I was moved by the students and alumni who were posting about their experiences with racism in the Rye schools. My experiences as an alumnus of the district, a member of the Rye School of Leadership faculty, and the mother of biracial kids also were motivators. My personal goal/wish is that we make the Rye Schools a more equitable and inviting place for BIPOC students.

    Besia Friedel, Former student
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because ...The lack of diversity (and the lack of understanding what it was to be mixed race in Rye) I experienced in the Rye schools was a formative experience of my young life, and if I can support or make things better for nonwhite kids in rye schools now, I want to.

    Rochelle Garnett, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force...To work with other members of the community to create a school culture that prioritizes inclusion, and stigmatizes words and behaviors that harm historically marginalized people. I have three children, two of whom are still attending RCSD (two boys, a junior and a 7th grader), and I worry about the types of behaviors that are being normalized around them at school and in social settings. I hope this task force helps to both raise awareness and make the changes necessary to ensure RCSD is a safe, welcoming place for all; shaping our young people into kind, empathic, culturally literate adults.

    Michelle Garofano, RMS Teacher
    I joined this group to support our BIPOC students as well as to promote the diversification of staff and faculty.

    Dino Garr, Retired School District Employee and Community Member
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force to...Be more informed and have a better understanding of racial concerns at Rye schools and community.

    Laura Glicksman, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I believe that change must happen within our community. My personal goal is to feel comfortable starting conversations with other faculty and students about race and equity.

    Sheryl Goffman, School District Administrator
    I joined because of my role as the Asst. Supt. for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. My personal goal/wish is that we can make an impact on a positive, inclusive learning environment in Rye.

    Laya Gollamundi, Current student
    I joined the Task Force because I have experienced racism in Rye myself and I was shocked by some of the posts on the BIPOC Instagram. I hope that at least by the time I graduate, some change, no matter how small, will have occurred to make Rye more inclusive.

    Peter Green, RMS Social Worker
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As the middle school social worker, I am committed to making Rye's schools safe for our BIPOC students.  In order to make this a reality, we have to bring about systemic change, in the community, in the schools, and in the understanding of our students. As a school social worker, I am concerned about the social and emotional well-being of our students and our school community.  Additionally, I want to help our students grow up prepared to build a more equitable world.

    Kelsey Johnson, Parent
    I was compelled to join this group when I read the community invitation from Dr. Byrne on July 6, 2020 because I am deeply committed to the Task Force goal of “providing a school environment that is inclusive, just, and focused on equity for all.”  My personal goal is to listen to our students and alumni to identify areas we can improve and develop a plan to ensure our school environment supports all students.  On a more personal note, I am the mother of four children in the school district, and hope to encourage an equitable and inclusive environment for them to experience and duplicate in the world.

    Geri Jones, RHS Teacher
    I am a teacher and a coach. I joined because I believe it is essential to the growth of our community to address the issues facing our student body. After reading the Instagram posts about student's experiences in the classroom and on the playing fields and courts, I wanted to be a part of any effort that would help future Rye students not have to experience the same treatment.

    Suma Kamath, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force...To improve Rye for our children.

    Robyn Kaminer, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...People I know are hurting. Students are hurting. And yet that pain is often dismissed or met with silence.  As a school community, our commitment to racial and social justice needs to be clear and consistent.  Without that, we remain part of the problem.  We need to be better than that. 

    Dann Kenefick, RMS and RHS Library Media Specialist
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force...To help change the climate in RCSD; to help make RCSD more inclusive.

    Kajol Khatri, Current student
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I would like to see change in my community and here what other members of my community have to say about the acts of discrimination and racist remarks that have been faced by people of color in Rye. But most of all I would like to be part of moving forward as a community.

    Christen Klewicki, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I want all students to feel safe, respected, and empowered to promote positive change.  Building empathy and equity will improve our schools and our world.

    Frieda Kraft, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As an educator in Rye High School, it is important to me that all students' voices and experiences are valued and respected in our community.

    Vanessa Kravitz, RHS Teacher
    I joined the group because I wanted to offer my perspective of diversity as a person of color within this school and the wider community of Rye. I have been a teacher in the district for many years.

    Catia Lai, Current student
    I joined the group because I wanted to help foster a world where people can grow and celebrate each others' differences rather than live in a world where people's growth is stifled by marginalization and 

    Dorothy Lee, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force to...Identify and make changes to RCSD curriculum regarding civics, history.  Have staff and students of color feel included, engaged and valued == have RCSD more diverse because people will want to be part of our community.

    Cara Lipari, Osborn School Library Media Specialist
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I want to know how to best assist teachers in choosing diverse literature and how to make sure diverse literature is read, understood and appreciated by our students. I have always told my students that they can come to me as a resource for help and understanding in any situation. Whether it be puberty, illness, trouble with friends or at home, LGBTQ understanding, or anything children feel they need adult guidance without the threat of being judged or questioned, I take pride in being the conduit for the library as a place of curiosity, information, and knowledge. I am an advocate for antiracist teaching and want more and better ways to communicate inclusivity in this predominantly white community.

    Claire Lytton, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I love my students and want to help co-create the most equitable and justice-focused learning experience for ALL high schoolers in Rye!

    Marin Martin, Current student
    I joined the Task Force due to a desire to bring change within the Rye community through fighting racism and promoting diversity. It is my hope that through the Taskforce that Rye begins to actively fight and make changes against racism so that students, as well as others in Rye, may always feel protected.

    Karen Mathewson Adler, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I was very concerned about the well being of our students after the report of racism and intolerance outlined by the Rye High School students and alumni.   As a parent of two children in this district and as a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of all children, I hope to support the Rye schools in ensuring that our students receive an education which is free from the traumas of discrimination, bias, exclusion, racism and prejudice.   In addition, I would like to support the Rye schools in ensuring that the education our children receive is one which is anti-biased and reflects the diversity of our world.    Through my work with the task force,  I hope to help support the Rye schools in becoming a more diverse and inclusive district wherein children of all backgrounds and identities receive a culturally inclusive education free from discrimination or prejudice. 

    Raina Mathur, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force to...Make this a more inclusive community for our children and tackling the inherent race issues.

    Ravi Mehta, Parent
    I joined the group to help bring awareness to the RCSD community about the issues our school’s face with racism and the related mental health impact, and also drive change so that my young kids who are of Indian descent and other students of color don’t have to experience any form of racism or marginalization in the future.

    Francesca Miller, RMS Teacher
    I joined the group because I believe America's struggle with systemic racism must be discussed and addressed within the education system.  We have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and can no longer afford to be silent when our students bring up these conversations.  Our profession demands that we set an example for our students and help them come to terms with the tragedies and biases within ourselves.  I hope that this group will help me develop the confidence, strength and language necessary to confront and question systemic racism when confronted by it in the classroom and with colleagues.

    Ai Nishino, Former Student
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As a Japanese American alumna who attended Osborn, Rye Middle and Rye High School, I want to ensure other students who identify as AAPI feel heard and seen within the Rye school system. I did not start thinking about my racial identity until after college and now after working with middle schoolers, I know that young students are more than capable of having dialogues around inclusion and diversity. I deeply believe in the power of education to ensure our future is one in which the dignity of all human beings is respected. I am excited about the momentum that the Rye community has garnered and am grateful for the courageous individuals who started the instagram account BIPOCatrye. This account has shed light on a lack of focus around inclusion and diversity at Rye. I believe that the Rye school system can be one where all students truly feel seen, heard and loved. 

    Lainey Noga, Current Student
    I joined the group because I want all the Rye schools to be more inclusive and safe spaces that make all students feel comfortable and educate their students about differences.

    Hiromi Okubo, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As an Asian mother, I want to ensure that my children as well as all BIPOC children in the school district have the opportunity to study and thrive in an inclusive environment where they feel safe and respected. I also feel that it is imperative that all children are given the opportunity to learn and raise their self awareness on the issues regarding inclusivity.

    Maria Pachon Fuentes, Current student
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force...To help create a more inclusive community within RHS, break apart norms that continue to divide and keep students in "cliques".

    David Petti, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...To create meaningful change to Rye schools as needed.

    Susan Reid-Dullea, School District Administrator
    As a new member of the Rye community I feel it essential to understand the role of athletics within this group. I strongly believe that athletics can support positive change and education within the school community. Personally, I want to set high expectations for the athletic department and lead the department into an active participant as a large group.

    Dayna Reist, Milton School Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I realized that although I have always considered myself an ally of the BLM movement, I was really only a multicultural teacher. My personal goal is to actually make a life altering difference to others; to move to being a culturally responsive teacher and person, to work hard, challenge myself and never settle for this work being done. I'm grateful that the RCSD has made this work the priority it needs and deserves.

    Roni Sarig, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I would like to improve the climate at school for minorities by raising awareness amongst the community.

    Spencer Schultz, Current student
    I joined the task force because I was horrified by what I read on the Instagram @bipocatrye. In some of the posts I saw myself and past mistakes I made that I only now realize caused pain and ostracized my bipoc friends regardless of the harmless intentions I or others had when we would "joke around." I joined because I wanted to bring a moderate young white voice to an effort I saw as sensible. I hoped to be able to speak to the other side, the white side of racism, which clearly does exist in one form or another in this town I love so much, and to bridge the gap between those that would inevitably be worried about the “extremism” of this project and those that demanded its existence. I hope in the future the efforts of myself and others will lead to a Rye where young people do not further the cycle of differences and divisiveness and instead foster an environment of inclusivity.

    Sonal Shah, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force...To help Rye become a more inclusive community

    Daphne Sharpe, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I'm the parent of two children who are BIPOC. It is important for me to ensure they feel represented and included (in all senses of the word) in the Rye community.

    Rafay Syed, Current student
    After the Instagram account bipocatrye and hearing people's stories I realized that in Rye we aren't conscious enough of our micro and macro aggressions, and I wanted to join the Task Force to have a conversation with other like-minded people on how we can educated the community on becoming anti-racist

    Pam Tarlow, Parent
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...To make it easier for and more welcoming for diverse families.

    Damaris Torrent, Milton School Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...As a Latina and resident of Rye I want my son and all the other children to experience learning in an environment which is free of racism and bias.

    Cristiana Villani, Former student
    I joined the task force in order to continue bettering our community following the March for Justice I co-organized back in June. I believe that this time is a great opportunity to make changes to both our town’s education system and community and would like to help in any way possible. My wish for the task force is to make tangible long-needed changes to our schools and offer students the educational experience they are promised and faculty/staff the tools and resources to properly guide, enlighten, and support students.

    Erin Vredenburgh, School District Administrator
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force to...Learn, grow and further develop the practices and policies within the district

    Kristen Warner, RHS Teacher
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...I was very disturbed by the BIPOC in Rye Instagram and also realized this spring that I need to be actively anti-racist in my life.

    Tiffany Woods, Former Student
    I joined the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force because...Being one of few African American people that attended Rye schools from elementary to high school, I thought I would bring valuable information to the table.

    Amanda Yannette, Former Student
    My life choices have been driven by wanting to effect change, one-on-one and on a larger scale. I joined this group because I believe our school district and community need to make changes in order to create a more equitable and inclusive environment. In addition, I am currently working towards a Masters in Education. As a future teacher and passionate advocate, I believe that I can help the group take tangible actions. I hope to gain experience working with a community and administration to make sustainable and positive changes.

    Bobby Zegarelli, RHS Administrator
    My goal for joining the task force is to listen to alumni and current students to learn more in-depth on how we can create small and immediate changes within Rye High School.  From this knowledge, we can continue to build upon the changes and lead greater conversations that will help transform the school culture.  

    Doreen Zion, Parent
    I applied to join the Task Force because I am a parent of children with special needs, (complex medical needs, learning differences, mental illness) who have all attended Rye schools (two graduates, one current high schooler). I believe there needs to be change in our schools and our community to be more inclusive and accepting of all students, and in particular provide educational equity for those who live and learn differently. My personal goal/wish for the work of the task force is to affect real change in our community and in turn our schools to make Rye a place where all children can grow up and be able to feel like they belong and are enough.