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2021 Inspire Award Winners

Mary Schuster-Graff

Schoo Middle School
Nominated By: Principal Cedric Cooper

When I think about a staff member who has been an innovative leader and has made a significant contribution to fostering understanding of our multicultural society by developing and implementing District programs, Mary Schuster-Graff immediately comes to mind. In the four years that Mary has been at Schoo, she has started two clubs at Schoo focusing on diversity: the Diversity Leaders Club and the Native American Club. This year she has combined the clubs into one. Mary has been instrumental in establishing collaborative relationships with people within the district and people outside of the district, such as a parent who helps with our Native American students and instructors from NWU since one of the goals of this group is high school graduation and college. Mary encourages students to attend the Latina Youth Leadership Conference at UNL, often attending with the students. These groups have provided students with several leadership opportunities at Schoo. Mary planned the first Culture Night at Schoo, which allowed students to share their cultures with Schoo families. This year she also led a book discussion using the book "Sing Unburied Sing," which was optional for all staff. Additionally, Mary is leading our work for the Native American Demonstration Grant. She is meeting with students that are Native American and finding staff to help tutor these students. Finally, Mary is an advocate for all students and staff at Schoo. She works tirelessly to give students the skills they need to be advocated for themselves and build a school community based on mutual respect for all people.

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