REAL Coalition


The REAL Coalition provides leadership and guidance on eliminating barriers to racial equity and supporting the advancement of all learners in the Needham Public Schools. The REAL Coalition is committed to engaging the staff, students, families, and community members in conversations and actions that promote equitable practices for all in our community.

The members of the REAL Coalition have a sense of urgency to address issues raised in the District's 2018 Equity Audit Report and to answer these essential questions:
-How do we engage and educate the community, staff, students and parents on the importance of developing and supporting educational practices that provide equity and excellence for all students?
-What do we need to do in order to have an interdisciplinary approach to race and equity that becomes part of the fabric of who we are as a school system?
-How do we create a safe environment for having difficult conversations?

Below is an accounting of the timeframe and key steps taken by the REAL Coalition in response to the Equity Audit findings and in support of all learners.

December 2017-January 2018:
REAL Coalition convenes to gain understanding of Equity Audit initial findings from consultant's presentation to School Committee, and Coalition establishes next steps.

February 2018:
REAL Coalition coordinates professional development for district to increase awareness and prepare staff to respond to findings of the audit.

March 2018:
Superintendent and REAL Coalition members hold meetings for district staff to react to March 2018 publication of full Equity Audit Report.

March-May 2018:
REAL Coalition sub-committees formed to develop goals across 6 areas identified in the Equity Audit Report. (See links on left to areas being worked on "In Support of Equity")

June 2018:
REAL Coalition expands to include representatives of the student body, teachers, parents, and School Committee; finalizes goals and establishes next steps with this expanded group. (See REAL Coalition members listed on right-hand side of page.)

September 2018-June 2019 and beyond:
REAL Coalition meets several times per year to address challenges, check in on district progress toward prioritized goals, and deepen members' understanding of issues related to race, equity, and access as a leadership group. We hold ourselves accountable through district and school improvement plans and we continue to report to the School Committee and the community on progress.

REAL Coalition Members:

Includes the REAL Steering Committee
supported by representative students,
teachers, and community members 

Steering Committee

Dan Gutekanst, Superintendent
Mary Lammi, Asst. Superintendent
Alex McNeil, Asst. Superintendent
Joanne Allen-Willoughby, METCO
Greg Bayse, Mitchell
Tamatha Bibbo, Pollard
Tom Denton, Guidance
Keith Ford, High School
Steve Plasko, High School
Diane Simmons, Strategic Planning
Jamie Singelais, English Language Ed
Leslie Smart, METCO
Andrea Vargas, Newman


Adoni Baptista (class of 2025)
Lauren Lipscomb (class of 2022)
Lia Santiago (class of 2023)
Jonathan Schor (class of 2021)
Ananya Sharma (class of 2025)
Shermaria Williams (class of 2021)

Teachers / Student Support Staff

Toni Burriss, Math Teacher, Pollard
Jennifer Evans, English Teacher, Pollard
George Goneconto, Teacher, Williams
Rafael Martinez, Teacher, High Rock
Stacey Nugent, Special Ed, Pollard
Julianne Pizzi, Counselor, Pollard
Elyssa Schneider, Teacher, High Rock

Parents / Community Representatives

Liz Lee, Citizens for Needham Schools
Sue Neckes, School Committee
Jen Schroeder, Human Rights Cmte.
Sara Shine, Youth & Family Services
Valine Valbrun-Paul, Parent
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