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.