New administrator to focus on equity and belonging and so much more

Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/14/2022 10:35:00 AM

Keturah Proctor is a dreamer. She dreams big and having been appointed as the district’s first Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Equity and Belonging, she has big ideas and plans.

 

“I appreciate the opportunity to be a dreamer,” she said of her new position. Woman

 

“It’s an opportunity to continue to dream and reset, in a way, as we are moving forward,” she continued.

 

It could be said that Ms. Proctor began dreaming big right here in the halls of Alexander Hamilton High School, where she was a student. Her family moved to Elmsford in 1960. Her mother, aunt and several uncles all attended the school, and her daughter graduated in 2021.

 

“That matters to me,” she said. “I actually feel so humbled and a bit nervous. I don’t want to let the community down. I went to high school here. I’m always coming to work thinking that I am repaying what I received.”

 

Even before she graduated from Syracuse University where she studied Inclusive Elementary & Special Education and African American Studies, she was being recruited by the then-superintendent to come to work for the district. She began her career here as a special education teacher and later taught math at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School. She went on to earn degrees in Curriculum and Teaching, M.S.E. at Fordham University and another master’s in Educational Leadership-Future School Leaders Academy, Ed. M at Bank Street College.

 

 

Last school year she was appointed as a teacher on assignment, helping to “manage our equity journey,” she said. She and her colleagues worked with the New York City based Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity to help steer the district’s equity work.

 

“They gave us a great foundation,” she said. That, combined with her completing the Leadership Academy at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, was beneficial.

 

“I really had to engage all the learning in the classroom space and what that means and become a systems thinker as well as a systems doer,” she said. “This is s structured process. You don’t always see the immediate results of your work.”

 

“And it was also having to think really, really big,” she added.

 

The work is not something that will be complete in three months, she said, but you have to think of the work as continuing out six months, three years, six years.

 

“It’s an incredible responsibility, and there is an advisory component,” she said of her role.

 

It is a in which she can be of service, Ms. Proctor said.


“It’s not work,” she said. “It is a purpose. It is who I am. It is literally my community, and it matters that much more to me.”

 

Ms. Proctor will lead the district in this work based on New York State Department of Education guidelines, along with the district’s equity statement and vision. Additionally, she will use the five recommendations created by the district’s equity team. They consist of climate change, communication, student equity and leadership, curriculum, and professional development.

 

“These are the five areas that will help guide me,” she said.

 

She will also enlist the help of a network of DEI, or diversity, equity and inclusion experts in the region that she has worked with herself.

 

Over the summer she presented at the Ossining Union Free School District’s New Employee Academy. She said her goal at the time, and in her work in her own district, is to create a space where everyone feels supported and safe in order to learn.


“You have to be vulnerable to do that transformative work,” she said.

 

She has also been involved with the group Action and Change in Elmsford, which consisted of going into buildings to talk about white supremacy. She said she was nervous, as she often is when discussing highly charged topics, but “in those moments you just have to stand on the side of right.”

 

“Understanding anti-bias, anti-racism is just as important as other subjects,” she said.

 

“I do think, in terms of dreaming big, of what this community, this district can be,” Ms. Proctor said. “You envision, then make it happen. It’s big, but necessary.”

 

Among her many motivations is to develop a place for students, staff, and administrators to feel at home in the district, the way she has felt about her home here.

 

She embodies that sense of community, whether it’s a former student stopping by her house because they needed assistance in registering their child for school or a current student who needs a few minutes to collect themselves in her office during the school day.

 

“I love what I do. I love learning. I do love this space that has deposited so much into me,” she said. “We need to be a space where people can shine.”

 

“Elmsford is an awesome, awesome place,” she continued. “To be able to highlight the brilliance of young people and to highlight their cultural identities—it’s a risk, but it’s worth it. It’s part of that giving back.”