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Port Neches-Groves ISD working to implement diversity & inclusion program

On Tuesday administrators in Port Neches-Groves Independent School District entered into their third work session in an ongoing goal to implement more diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the district.

Since November, leaders have been meeting with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant Kayren Gray.

Gray, who currently lives in Central, Texas but graduated from Hardin-Jefferson High School and attended Lamar University, is an author, educator and founder of MK Results, LLC.

“It was almost like the universe brought us together,” Gray told the Board of Trustees Monday about her initial meeting with Deputy Superintendent Julie Gauthier before saying Gauthier and Superintendent Dr. Mike Gonzales are “phenomenal, visionary leaders who really saw the need to just begin a conversation with everything happening in the world, with the gaps that are there now… and really changing the narrative.”

Gray said the process of developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion statement with measurable goals aligned with the district’s improvement plan will provide better experiences for students and staff — whether it comes to race, socioeconomic status, religion, etc.

The implementation plan began with a Lunch and Learn in November, followed by training sessions in January and March.

The training session this week will be followed by strategic planning in July, working with educators in August and reflecting to create next steps in September.

“We want to inspire,” Gray said. “We want to look back and say, ‘here’s where we were and here’s where we are now. That we’ve created this awareness, and we moved from awareness to opportunity and empathy.’”

Gray said the process will strengthen the sense of belonging for all employees and students.

“We know this will be tied to student academic achievement that will decrease discipline and create more innovation and creativity in the district; because when we have more people at the table, we make better decisions,” Gray said.

Gauthier said working with Gray is an effort to stay proactive and ahead of the game.

“Things are changing, and if we don’t stay ahead of that, we won’t be able to meet the needs of our students,” she said.

Gonzales echoed those statements by saying, “It was very eye-opening. We’re always about improving ourselves. We’re always trying to sharpen our skills. But before we sharpen our skills, we really need to dig deep.”

The district plans to have educators trained for the 2021-22 school year.