Sherwood School District hires new diversity director
The Sherwood School District has hired its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), TaMara Glavan, who began her new job July 1.
Glavan has served as a teacher on special assignment at Sheridan Japanese School, focusing on student behavior, attendance, leadership, social emotional learning and guiding school-wide DEI initiatives.
According to the Sherwood School District, Glavan, who lives in Newberg, has taught English language arts and Social Studies, focusing on incorporating diverse backgrounds and experiences, while taking on more leadership roles, such as coordinating student clubs and acting as the student council advisor for Sheridan Japanese School.
In a sit-down session with the Gazette, Glavan and Superintendent Heather Cordie described the new position added to the school district.
"There have been so many conversations leading up to the decision to make this hire of this really important position in our district," Cordie said. "Those conversations have happened over the course of time, certainly not just the last few months, but the last few years."
Cordie said, "There's a need to have a dedicated staff member whose sole focus is on supporting all students, their families, our staff, so that all of our students, regardless of their story and who they are, feel welcome and really a part of our learning environment. We're really excited to have Mrs. Glavan on our team."
Glavan is looking forward to her new position and any challenges that may come her way.
"For me, the challenges are going to be navigating and bringing our community into this world," Glavan said. "I think we all want to get to the inclusion party. We're just at different spaces, and that is OK. Meeting people where they are at is going to be a challenge, but it's going to be a really good challenge."
Glavan continued, "It's going to build our community in a variety of ways. So, if we just all acknowledge that we have work to do, but that we are all willing to do the work, I think that's going to be a beautiful challenge in itself."
Glavan indicated she sees her role as supportive within the school district.
"I think this new position is going to be a great opportunity for everyone," Glavan said. "I think being readily available to support our staff and our students is really going to focus our work on building up our community and ensuring that everybody has a voice and everybody is heard."
Glavan is ready to meet as many students as possible.
"One of my goals is to be readily accessible to our students and to our staff," Glavan said. "I am working on creating some kind of concept for an open line of communication — whether it's email, phone — where I can set up meetings with students, teachers and administrators, people that need support. One of my goals is to be able to go to students and not have them come to me."
Cordie added, "TaMara is already engaging in conversations with community members and families as well, answering their questions and really engaging in productive conversations, something that's really important to her, as well."
The concept of a diversity director is not particularly new, Cordie noted — just new for Sherwood.
"There are districts all around us who have had people in similar roles for years," the superintendent said. "We have been engaging in conversations about how to add a supportive position like this for years."
She reiterated, "This is not anything that has happened in the last 18 months. This is not a conversation that has just arisen in the recent past. This has been an ongoing conversation."
The Sherwood School District recently lost one of its top administrators, as Melissa Baran, principal of Sherwood High School, was hired as the neighboring Tigard-Tualatin School District's associate director of teaching and learning.
At a public meeting in January, Baran, who is Black, critiqued the role that racism and white supremacy have played in shaping the U.S. education system. Cordie defended Baran in a strongly worded statement after a handful of school parents disparaged the principal on social media.
Cordie declined to comment on whether Sherwood's decision to hire a DEI director was related to the January incident, saying she wants to focus on Glavan and her role.
Asked if there is an issue in school districts concerning under-represented or marginalized students, Cordie answered, "That's not how I would categorize it. We have the opportunity in K-12 education, not just in the Sherwood School District but across our state, and truly across our nation, to just really ensure that we have practices and an environment in place where every student feels welcome, safe and part of the learning community."
Glavan is not only looking forward to her new position, she's also looking forward to kids finally returning to school.
"I think I'm most excited for school to come back so I can start getting to know the students more," she said.
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