The Deeper Dive

The Deeper Dive

July 2024

Greetings from the Deeper Dive!

I hope that everyone had a Joyful June! Even though the 2023-2024 school year came to an end, the fun and learning continued for our community well into Summer Break! On June 19, 2024, hundreds gathered at the Royal Oak Farmers Market and Centennial Commons in Downtown Royal Oak to celebrate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was actually enacted in 1863, news of the proclamation did not reach Galveston, Texas, until 2 years later, in 1865, on June 19th. The following year, 1866, Juneteenth became an annual celebration in Galveston to celebrate the abolition of slavery. Over time, this holiday has been recognized and celebrated throughout the U.S., bringing together facts, food, fun, family, fine arts, and much more. In 2021, Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday after the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act s.475 was signed into law.

Royal Oak’s 4th Annual Juneteenth Celebration featured educational speeches and artifacts, a 1,865-step Freedom Strive Walk, fine arts performances, food trucks, horse rides, rock climbing, and community vendors. I was so happy to see so many students, families, and community members come together to celebrate this amazing day as we learned and fellowshipped together. 4 years ago, siblings and Royal Oak Schools alumni Carvell Wilkins and LaKeesha Morrison (descendants of Royal Oak’s Black Pioneer Hamer family) began this annual celebration. Each year, the event has continued to grow bigger and better.

Follow this link to find out more about Juneteenth and its history.

June 2024

I hope that everyone had a Marvelous May! It is so hard to believe that we are already in June and approaching all of our end-of-school-year celebrations and activities. I am so grateful for all of the connections that I have made with everyone since coming aboard in late November, and I am looking forward to many more collaborations, connections, events, and programs next school year.

May proved to be a very busy and productive month with many celebrations, student interviews, events, programs, conferences, school visits, and presentations.

In mid-May, I was fortunate to attend the Leading to Liberate- Tri-County Culturally Responsive Mathematics Spring Leadership Conference sponsored by the MiSTEM Network, Wayne RESA, Oakland Schools, and Washtenaw ISD. The conference offered a dynamic experience that supported leaders in enacting culturally responsive leadership within their building(s) and districts. During the conference, I was able to work with field experts such as Dr. Jay Marks, Dr. Christopher Emdin, Dr. Rich Milner, Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, and many more to engage in culturally responsive instruction support. We also collaborated with all 3 Intermediate School Districts to learn how to create more inclusive school environments. Each panelist and facilitator stressed the significance of prioritizing a student-centered approach. This approach will continue to be consistently applied at Royal Oak Schools to propel us forward in our inclusion efforts.

MiSTEM Network

May also presented great professional development opportunities for our district during our Late Start Days. Each building participated in an Implicit Bias PD that allowed us to gain an understanding of:

The meaning of implicit bias and how to recognize its existence
How to identify personal implicit biases
How implicit biases impact education
How to address and dismantle negative effects of implicit bias
Even though Implicit Bias can prove to be one of the more difficult topics to discuss, we were able to unpack our fears and gain valuable insight about the concept itself, ourselves, and others through engaging in discussion, self-reflection, and community-building activities.

Lastly, I am wishing everyone well as we close out an amazing school year and head into Summer. I know that we have just a couple of short weeks in June, and I am encouraging all of our students to finish strong and continue to make positive, long-lasting memories with their classmates, teammates, fellow club members, teachers, and school staff as we bring the year to a close. Next school year will be even greater as we continue to strive for the best!

June will be a joyous month for sure! Here are additional Pride Month and Juneteenth resources for the month of June:

Family Acceptance Project-SFSU
Family Pride Celebration - Royal Oak
Royal Oak Juneteenth Celebration
Please be sure to stop by the ROHS Diversity Club table if you are able to attend the Juneteenth Celebration!


Ashley Phillips, DEI Coordinator

May 2024

Greetings from the Deeper Dive!

I hope that everyone had an Amazing April! I am also hoping that “April showers truly do bring May flowers” –as it is always amazing to see the growth and renewal that this month offers! Diversity, equity, and inclusion also continues to grow at Royal Oak Schools as we engage in current and innovative initiatives to increase awareness, acceptance, and access.

On Friday, April 12th, the Royal Oak community filled their IFFF Passports with stamps, pictures, and fun facts at Keller Elementary’s International Food and Fun Festival. We were able to enjoy food trucks, artwork, storytelling, music, sensory spaces, dancing, family projects, and much more throughout the very elaborate and engaging evening. I was very excited to host our first DEI Meet & Greet Booth during the event. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth and to all who helped to make this event so spectacular. If you were not able to scan the QR code to participate in our 1-question DEI survey at the Meet & Greet Booth, please click this survey link to offer your feedback.

As we closed out April, we were elated to host a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tour featuring guests from the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Office of Educational Supports. The concept of this tour grew from a partnership that advanced during Royal Oak Schools’ participation in the MDE’s Black History Month Calendar Project earlier this year.

Throughout the tour, our guests were able to:
- Experience an overview of Royal Oak Schools and our commitment to being a community of excellence
- Learn more about our commitment to progression in advancing DEI
- Participate in activities planned for ROMS’ Inclusion Week and ROHS’ Umatter Week
- Visit educators who participated in the MDE Black History Month Calendar Project
We are looking forward to many more partnership opportunities with the MDE and additional DEI stakeholders in the future. (See article with this link.)

Lastly, we were honored to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Earth Day, and several additional celebrations throughout the month of April. I am looking forward to more awareness, acceptance, and recognition as we acknowledge Asian American Pacific Islander Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, Staff Appreciation, and much more during the month of May.

~Ashley Phillips, DEI Coordinator