Tina Philibotte, Chief Equity Officer, Manchester School District

Tell us a little about yourself and your role in the community. What makes Manchester special to you?

I joined the Manchester School District in July 2021 as the district’s first Chief Equity Officer. Previous to that, I spent 13 years teaching English and Dance at the high school level. I am a NH Listens Fellow, an NAACP Education Committee contributor, as well as an Advisory Group Member of the Endowment for Health’s Race & Equity Series. This year, I was also invited to participate in Leadership NH’s Class of 2022.

I grew up on Manchester’s West side: Parker-Varney, Parkside, and West. — As a Korean, transnational, transracial adoptee to good French-Canadian stock, I have experienced both the joy and challenges of the Queen City. On the one hand, I have been raised by kids of World War II Navy Veterans and Waumbec Mills employees, and on the other, I was the only Korean kid growing up in Manchester circa 1980 – 1990. I am a product of the Manchester School District and my commitment to this learning environment and community is deep. In many ways, Manchester today is the Manchester I yearned for as a kid: lots of diversity and better restaurants! And at the same time, my story is that of so many across Manchester today who feel disenfranchised, uncared for, and misunderstood. I was the only Korean kid or person of color in most spaces, and I lacked the support I needed to feel welcomed . However, my mother nurtured a true appreciation for the underdog in me; my father ingrained a practice of hard work and giving back to your community; and my community instilled a sense of hope. It is the place where I scored my first goal (soccer for two years at Piscat), worked my first job (on the corner of Hevey and Bremer), and graduated from high school (stage of Veteran’s Park). Despite all the Queen City’s challenges, this is my Manchester and the one root I for today.

How are you involved in Manchester Proud and why is this work important to you?

My involvement with Manchester Proud began when I started in this position in July. I have served on the Celebrate Ed committee and have spoken at a few small events sharing the work I do at MSD.

The position I serve is a manifestation and testament to Manchester Proud’s amazing work over the past three years. It is a true honor to be a part of something that started as a conversation and evolved into an even stronger community. I have committed the better part of my life working toward educational equity for all NH learners, and the universe has opened an opportunity to come home and give back. Much of diversity, equity, and inclusion work is to connect cultural dots. I’m honored to help navigate this complex constellation of challenges together and build an even brighter future for our Manchester.

Fast forward five years: share with us your aspirations and vision for Manchester’s public schools.

My greatest aspiration is to have culturally sustaining systems, practices, and pathways in place where students feel seen, heard, and valued. Manchester schools will be nurturing spaces where all students and families have agency in matters where they are most directly affected. The voices of the historically marginalized and historically under-resourced community members will be lifted up and prioritized, and all kids will have what they need to contribute positively to their community.

Manchester Public Schools will have systems, frameworks, and protocols in place that support fundamental operations of functional community schools. The District will be effectively staffed with passionate leader-learners, technology specialists, coaches, instructional designers, and support staff who better reflect the diversity of the students in the classroom. Collaborative community systems will wrap around our students and families to ensure all kids are able to access a meaningful education in order to pave their own way toward excellence.