Hammond school system advances diversity program

2013-11-26T20:15:00Z 2013-11-26T22:42:07Z Hammond school system advances diversity programTimes Staff nwitimes.com
November 26, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The School City of Hammond is launching a diversity initiative, complete with student and parent assemblies and motivational speakers, a school official said.

The assemblies are geared to students in grades three to 12, with the first one taking place in late November.

Superintendent Walter Watkins previously said the district has a two-prong approach to its cultural diversity initiative, which includes hiring Texas-based motivational speaker Jimmy Cabrera.

Cabrera's primary focus is working with communities on diversity issues. The district also hired a consultant, Virtuoso Consulting, to work primarily with staff members regarding diversity issues.

"We haven't done a demographic analysis this year, but in the past we have been 65 percent minority and 35 percent majority," Watkins said. "Most of our minority population is Hispanic. We see a need to improve our outreach to the Hispanic community."

Watkins said Cabrera was the keynote speaker at a back-to-school convocation and will return regularly to speak on diversity issues. Virtuoso Consulting will bring in speakers and hold workshops for staff, he said.

Cabrera will talk to students about diversity, inclusion, self-esteem and positive attitude. The message to parents will be about respect starting at home and never being ashamed to ask for help, Watkins said.

"This is a two-year project beginning in November, addressing ways to improve staff awareness when it comes to working with diverse student needs," Watkins said. "The first year of the project will cost the district $50,000, and we've set aside funds for that."

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