Director of Equity, Diversity, and Education Named by Pennsbury

The Pennsbury Board of School Directors appoint­ed Cherrissa M. Gibson, Ed.D. to be the District’s new Director of Equity, Diversity, and Education dur­ing the pub­lic School Board meet­ing held on July 16, 2020. Dr. Gibson was named to this newly-created posi­tion after serv­ing as an Assistant Principal at Pennsbury High School West since 2013.

The Director of Equity, Diversity, and Education is respon­si­ble for coor­di­nat­ing and guid­ing all efforts to define, under­stand, assess, fos­ter, and cul­ti­vate equi­ty among the District’s stu­dents, fac­ul­ty, and staff. This posi­tion serves to enhance edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams to pro­mote equi­ty as an essen­tial ele­ment of the mis­sion of the Pennsbury School District. This posi­tion will also fur­ther devel­op pro­grams, ser­vices, and ini­tia­tives designed to ensure the recruit­ment and suc­cess­ful reten­tion of fac­ul­ty and staff.

Dr. Gibson tru­ly impressed the inter­view team with her knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence, and the well- con­ceived entry plan that she pre­sent­ed,” said Superintendent Dr. William J. Gretzula. “Stakeholders includ­ed School Directors, Central Office admin­is­tra­tors, and school Principals. Their com­ments after­wards includ­ed obser­va­tions about Dr. Gibson’s clear pas­sion for pur­su­ing and sup­port­ing equi­ty and diver­si­ty in Pennsbury, her non-judgmental approach­a­bil­i­ty, her depth and breadth of knowl­edge, and her grasp of the data behind this impor­tant work. Dr. Gibson has also led the deliv­ery of pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment relat­ed to cul­tur­al pro­fi­cien­cy here in the School District. As one com­mit­tee mem­ber put it, Dr. Gibson takes a schol­ar­ly approach to the work, yet is approachable.”

In her new role, Dr. Gibson’s pri­ma­ry duties and respon­si­bil­i­ties are to:

  • con­duct a process to ana­lyze sys­temic poli­cies and prac­tices to ensure imple­men­ta­tion and allo­ca­tion lead­ing to rig­or­ous aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment for all students;
  • devel­op a mis­sion, vision, and action plan that focus­es the District’s equi­ty work in a man­ner that is inclu­sive, trans­par­ent, and measurable;
  • work close­ly with the Directors of Elementary, Secondary, and Special Education in adopt­ing inclu­sive ped­a­go­gies and cur­ric­u­la that include the study of race, gen­der, eth­nic­i­ty, class, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, reli­gion, and their intersections;
  • design and pro­vide pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment that enhances cul­tur­al pro­fi­cien­cies for all staff, stu­dents, and mem­bers of the community;
  • facil­i­tate community-based edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties includ­ing broad, stake­hold­er groups;
  • col­lab­o­rate with the Human Resources Department to pro­mote the recruit­ment, employ­ment, and reten­tion of a work­force reflec­tive of District demographics;
  • work with col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties for the place­ment of stu­dent teach­ers in the Pennsbury schools with a focus on diversity;
  • assist edu­ca­tors in cre­at­ing culturally-supportive learn­ing envi­ron­ments that ensure high expec­ta­tions for the aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment of all students;
  • pro­mote extra-curricular activ­i­ties that focus on equi­ty and diver­si­ty for stu­dents and encour­age stu­dent atten­dance as such activities;
  • sup­port the District’s Title IX Coordinator for student/parent inquiries;
  • work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Director of Student Services in rela­tion to Act 44 and the com­ple­tion of the Civil Rights Report;
  • par­tic­i­pate in the Board Policy Committee in rela­tion to the adop­tion and imple­men­ta­tion of Board Policies that involve equi­ty, diver­si­ty, and the pre­ven­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion and harass­ment of stu­dents and staff;
  • and sup­port Federal pro­gram coor­di­na­tion (Title I, II, III, IV) to ensure equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of appro­pri­ate resources.

During the past two years at Pennsbury High School West, Dr. Gibson served as the Acting Principal for two con­sec­u­tive spring semes­ters while Principal Lisa Becker was away on edu­ca­tion­al sab­bat­i­cals. During this time, she devel­oped flex­i­ble and sup­port­ive prac­tices for stu­dents and staff to main­tain con­ti­nu­ity of instruc­tion dur­ing the COVID-19 school clo­sure through dis­tance learn­ing. She also coor­di­nat­ed the super­vi­sion and eval­u­a­tion of approx­i­mate­ly 150 pro­fes­sion­al staff and 50 sup­port staff, eval­u­at­ed and admin­is­tered instruc­tion­al pro­grams, over­saw sched­ul­ing, orga­nized stu­dent activ­i­ties, stu­dent dis­ci­pline, finan­cial man­age­ment, and facil­i­ties man­age­ment. She also coor­di­nat­ed office man­age­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with par­ents. In addi­tion, she ana­lyzed data relat­ed to the PA Future Ready Index and super­vised four assis­tant prin­ci­pals in coor­di­nat­ing and eval­u­at­ing instruc­tion­al resources and pro­grams relat­ed to state data reporting.

Dr. Gibson came to Pennsbury in 2013 from the Bristol Borough School District, where she served as an Assistant Principal at Bristol Borough High School. Prior to that posi­tion, she was the Dean of Students at Snyder-Girotti Elementary/Middle School, also in Bristol Borough. She has taught at the ele­men­tary lev­el in the Bristol Borough, Central Bucks, and the Central York school dis­tricts. Dr. Gibson also served as Head Girls’ Basketball Coach for Bristol Borough School District and Head Women’s Basketball Coach for Bucks County Community College. She was induct­ed into the Bensalem High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.

Dr. Gibson recent­ly earned her doc­tor­ate in K‑12 School Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University, with a dis­ser­ta­tion focused on “Social-Emotional Learning Through a Cultural Lens.” She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Edinboro University as well as a Master’s degree in Teaching & Curriculum from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Gibson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Elizabethtown College. She is pro­fes­sion­al­ly cer­ti­fied for Principal K‑12, Elementary K‑6, and English 7–12.