Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

District hires Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

LISD hired Matthew Morris as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion after creating the position earlier this year. His shirt is made with traditional Kente cloth, which he wears in celebration of his culture. (Brooke Luther)

The district created a new leadership position, the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, earlier this year. Matthew Morris was hired to fill this role. He started in January.

“I get to create, and imagine and bring things together, so it is so amazing,” Morris said. “This is what I was made for.”

Morris believes his new job serves as a physical reminder of LISD’s core values, which encourage inclusive spaces and opportunities for growth.

“I think this position is saying, ‘This is an accountability measure,’” Morris said. “‘This person is a visual representation of our commitment to creating spaces where everyone feels they belong.’”

In his first few months on the job, Morris has been focusing on researching the current state of diversity in LISD by meeting with trustees, students, staff and community members. This will allow him to determine the best steps to take in the future.

“This is our opportunity to guide those who are coming up and to let them know how to navigate the system and realize that the system can be adjusted,” Morris said.

Morris said that he didn’t know what to expect when he first started this new position, but he was pleasantly surprised to see how diverse LISD already is. A few years ago, the district implemented a cultural proficiency framework, which consists of training teachers and staff.

“When you go to most districts who are just beginning and creating an officer for diversity, you think, ‘Okay, you’re starting from ground zero,’” Morris said. “That’s not the case… From an outsider coming in, you guys are doing a whole lot more than people across the nation.”

Currently, Morris’ plan mainly includes encouraging student leadership, whether it’s centered around discussing complex issues like racism or simply starting a book club at school. He believes this will help all students feel welcomed.

“It brings joy to my heart, to my soul, because there’s so many times, so many people, who come into our school buildings every single day, who don’t feel that they are seen or don’t feel like they’re a part of the experience.”

Morris said most people have been receptive to his position so far, but he is most eager to have conversations with those who do not support it.

“On the district end, we have all of this, ‘How do we build a larger table to have more people come and join the table?’” Morris said. “We don’t need to build incentives, but how do we get people to come together? Because they’re here. We’re all here. So how do we hear and amplify those voices?”

Before he moved to LISD, Morris worked in administration in Richardson ISD. He wasn’t looking for a new job at the time, so Morris said it almost seemed too good to be true when he stumbled on LISD’s online post about needing a Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in October.

This is not an opportunity, this is a call, and I need to pick up the phone.

— Matthew Morris, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

While he said it was difficult to leave his old job behind, Morris couldn’t shake the feeling that LISD found him instead of the other way around.

“There’s a greater work that needs to be done,” Morris said. “This is not an opportunity, this is a call, and I need to pick up the phone.”

However, Morris’ experience in the field began well beyond his first teaching job. Growing up as a Black, middle class student on free and reduced lunches, Morris felt like his school didn’t have anyone who empowered him or saw him as a real person other than his accomplishments.

Morris dedicated his life to becoming that person for other kids. As a first generation college student, he received degrees from Huston–Tillotson University, which is an HBCU, and Columbia University.

“When studying education policy, I realized that I needed to go into the classroom, and see where the greatest need was and then build upon there,” Morris said.

Now that Morris is the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, he hopes to work himself out of the job. Because when he is not needed anymore, that means he created an environment where all students feel represented.

“No matter if it is a person of native background, Hispanic heritage, African American, someone who’s from an affluent community, someone who was in section eight housing, to when they define LISD… they see themself,” Morris said.

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About the Contributors
Madi Olivier
Madi Olivier, Editor in Chief
Madi Olivier is a senior and third-year staffer, although most people know her as the short girl who talks too much. The newsroom is her favorite place to be and she spent most of her time last year convincing Hale to let her stay after school for “just five more minutes.” However, if the door to C108 is locked, you can normally find her at gymnastics practice or in the kitchen trying to bake. Her speciality is anything burnt or overflowing from the pan. She’s so excited to be the editor in chief of The Marquee and to see what amazing, impactful stories her staff will publish this year. 
Brooke Luther
Brooke Luther, Photographer
Brooke Luther is a senior and this is her first year on staff. When she’s not swimming, running, or baking, you can catch her binge-watching Netflix with her dogs. She is excited to spend her last year of high school with this amazing staff and can’t wait to expand her photography skills.

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