Connection and Community at King Middle’s Equity Family Night

“[We] feel like we’re not alone. You can only be so strong, but it’s good to be with others in a similar situation.”
—Mother of a King 7th grader

Amid laughter and chatter in many languages—from Arabic to Spanish, English to Filipino—families gathered in the King Middle School teacher’s lounge on a cold Thursday night in January for dinner and discussion as part of the second Equity Family Night. This program, funded by a 2023-24 Berkeley Public Schools Fund LEARNING for Equity Grant, provides space for families to share their thoughts, questions, and concerns about how King recognizes and caters to students of varying identities. The focus of these family nights are the intersections of connection and community, celebrations and needs, and ideas and actions.

Equity Family Nights are organized and led by Community Building Counselor Abbie Gregor and Family Engagement and Equity Specialist Yesenia Moran. The evening begins with community building by sharing a meal of pasta, salad, and pizza. Families then move to the auditorium to hear exciting updates about events, clubs, and school initiatives that aim to celebrate the many identities of the King school community. Gregor shares that, after completing two of the three family nights planned for the year, “We feel that families are connecting, the discussion is valuable and the overall flow of the events is working well,” and she looks forward to welcoming more families at the last Equity Family Night later this school year.

After this brief gathering, families are invited to join affinity group discussions. These affinity groups included ethnic and racial identity groups (AAPI, Latinx/e, SSWANA, Black/African American, and Multiracial), LGBTQIA+ families, and families with students in Special Education, or, as 7th grade student, Arielle D. has renamed her community when she started a disability advocacy club at King, “Disabled But Able (DBA).”  Recognizing that families often hold multiple identities, the facilitators encouraged folks to move between groups as they saw fit.

Conversations in each group varied from seeking more individual support from teachers for English Language Learners to gender identity assignment in Infinite Campus to questions about funding for clubs in order to provide more opportunities for students to share and celebrate their heritage. The mother of a mixed race student with an IEP shared that she attended the first Equity Family Night and returned for this second one because the event made her “feel like we’re not alone. You can only be so strong, but it’s good to be with others in a similar situation.” The evening culminated in a fun raffle of donated prizes and cake for all to share because what completes a meal better than dessert?


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