The Wellesley Public School system’s first director of diversity, equity & inclusion, Dr. Charmie Curry, is leaving her position effective next month, Curry announced in a letter to families. Appointed in September 2019, Curry previously served numerous roles in the Boston Public Schools system as a teacher and principal, and had experience working at organizations focused on teacher development and leadership.
During her tenure, her responsibilities included formulating a strategic plan to support district diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; deepening community awareness, understanding, and respect for diversity, equity and inclusion; overseeing the METCO program; and working with the A Better Chance program.
During an update to the School Committee last year, Curry identified the need for a town-wide commitment to dismantling inequity as a major goal of her office, noting that studies show Black and Hispanic students are three to four times more likely to be identified for certain learning disabilities.
“When we talk about equity, student outcomes and experiences are not correlated with race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, or other identity markers,” Curry said in the meeting. “Currently in our district we do have some outcomes that are predicated by these identity markers, and we need this not to be the case.”
In an email to The Swellesley Report, Curry reflected on her time in Wellesley saying, “…the opportunity to steward the WPS’s equity work was an attractive venture because I knew that in this role, I would deepen my leadership expertise, I would be challenged, and I would be able to make a lasting impact on behalf of students. The work of pursuing educational equity has always been deeply personal to me because it is rooted in a vocational call toward justice. So for me, this has and will always be life work. It’s that deep in my bones.
“It is a great joy for me to look back on the three short years I’ve been in Wellesley, and see the immense progress my colleagues and I accomplished together—building educator capacity to be leaders of equity work in their schools; instituting a bias incident procedure as a proactive measure to address incidents of bias in our schools; holding space to listen to our most vulnerable and marginalized students; bringing Isabel Wilkerson to our community. I lived into the power of “we”, and was able to elevate our district’s collective practice toward becoming a more culturally sustaining institution. Though in an office of one, I in no way worked alone. I am humbled by the partnerships I cultivated in order to see our equity work come alive—Wellesley Education Foundation, World of Wellesley, Panorama, the list could go on… I am so proud of our student body. In three years, I have seen young people mobilize to be fierce advocates for educational equity. They have spoken up, exhibiting such vulnerability in sharing their stories. A few of them have even run for public office in the Town—what an incredible affirmation of how students are building capacity to be change makers, and the impact of exposing them to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. They have truly been the bright lights who have kept me focused on such important, life-changing work.
“I am grateful to the Town for getting to know me as an individual, and for providing opportunities for me to bring people together, and to facilitate important conversations within the community. I am leaving the Wellesley Public Schools in a stronger position to continue its equity journey, and for that I am beaming with pride and joy. This same energy will carry me into my new role at DESE.
Here is Dr. Curry’s letter to the WPS community:
Dear WPS Families,
I am reaching out to share that I have accepted the role of Associate Commissioner at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I provided my letter of resignation to the superintendent and school committee chair on March 18th. My last day in WPS will be 4/1.
As Associate Commissioner, I will oversee DESE’s Statewide Systems for Student Support. In this new role, I will lead several teams that provide direct support to schools and districts across the Commonwealth that have been identified by the accountability system as requiring assistance or intervention, among other supports. Coincidentally, WPS has been a beneficiary of the work of this office as it has received resources and expertise that have enhanced systemic approaches to the district’s equity work, through multi-year academies, grants, and technical assistance. This work extends my deep passion for and commitment to equity, especially in service to some of our most marginalized students and communities in the Commonwealth. There is no question that our work in Wellesley Public Schools has prepared me for this next chapter.
I met some of you in September 2019 as I embarked on an ambitious entry plan, spending time with many community members such as the town clerk and police chief. Some of you met me personally at the Central Office; others I met at PTO meetings or at other district events such as the last WEF Spelling Bee before the pandemic. In my three years here, you have supported the district’s equity work, and you have supported me personally; you have challenged me when necessary to rethink or reframe positions; you have made me a more effective, culturally responsive leader.
Thank you for entrusting me with stewardship of the district’s equity efforts. I have sincerely appreciated your commitment, even in the most challenging of times. You have given me the opportunity to impact the lives of our most precious constituents – our students! I remain grateful for your partnership.
Dr. Charmie Curry