By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — A new administrative position in Waynesboro Schools will give a voice for students who may feel misunderstood, ignored or silenced thus far in the River City’s school system.
Kendra Jones Carter will be Director of Equity and Diversity, but is not new to Waynesboro Schools.
Carter has been assistant principal at Waynesboro High School for seven years, and previously taught Human Anatomy and Biology at the high school for six years.
Before teaching in Waynesboro, Carter taught physical education for five years in Fairfax.
She and husband, Dennie Carter, live in Staunton.
Carter’s son, Troy Blair graduated with the Class of 2021 at Waynesboro High on May 15, and she had the opportunity to go onstage in the Louis Spilman Auditorium and present his degree to him.
Carter grew up in Staunton City Public Schools. She graduated Robert E. Lee High School, now Staunton High School.
She said that her involvement with Virginia Tiered Systems of Support and VaSCD Curriculum Development encouraged her interest in Waynesboro Schools’ new position.
VTSS, an organization with a goal “to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for everyone,” especially drew her interest to the position after the organization looked at Loudoun County Schools and how to create a more “equitable learning environment.”
“I just developed a strong commitment to this work,” Carter said of equity and diversity.
She hopes that her passion for equity and diversity will get her down what she knows will be a difficult road in her new position.
“Because, sometimes when we start these conversations, they can be difficult conversations,” Carter said.
She said Waynesboro High has the Anti-Racism Club, but sometimes students do not want to have the difficult conversations that are necessary for bridging the gap between differences.
Solutions will not happen overnight, but Carter thinks the school system wants “to get to a point where we talk about difficult things.”
“It’s going to take some time and commitment to this moving forward,” she said.
She hopes students will learn to respect and value their differences.
And she hopes to partner with the community and the city of Waynesboro on behalf of Waynesboro students to develop programs and support action for equity and diversity.
“I know there is a lot to do, but I’m excited,” Carter said.
Carter’s passion for the topics of equity and diversity come from personal experiences and being subjected to unequitable practices.
She hopes to do “what I can do to help someone else and help someone feel included.”
She said that when she speaks of personal experience, she refers to life in general, not experiences in Waynesboro.
“I know it’s hard for minorities,” she said.
And her knowledge of equity and diversity also comes from studying on her own and gaining a “strong knowledge of equity and diversity.”
Training provided through VTSS has furthered her knowledge.
Her position as Director of Equity & Diversity will also be about making sure members of the LGBTQ community feel included in the River City, as well as females.
“Any under-represented population,” Carter said, she will do what she can to make them feel more included in the Waynesboro community.
She will also help Waynesboro teachers learn to work with a diverse population of students.
Carter has several goals outlined for her first year in the position.
She hopes to work with Human Resources to create an element for teacher evaluations which requires cultural proficiency efficacy, and make it applicable for Waynesboro Schools.
Carter will help all Waynesboro teachers seeking licensure have a mandatory cultural competency.
For example, Social Science teachers will be required to also study African-American history.
She will work toward a goal for all Waynesboro Schools employees to acquire cultural proficiency efficacy.
Waynesboro Schools will have an equity audit, and Carter will establish a plan of action from the results of the audit.
“I hope I can find my voice at the table as I move to the central office,” Carter said.