GCSD welcomes new DEI director and teacher on special assignment

Derek Westbrook and Leah Werther join the district’s DEI team

The Guilderland Central School District has hired two members to its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team, Derek Westbrook and Leah Werther.

Derek Westbrook, Director of DEI

A man wearing glasses, a collared shirt and blue sport coat looks at the camera.Appointed by the Board of Education at the September 12 meeting, Mr. Westbrook joins GCSD as the Director of DEI, succeeding Matthew Pinchinat. Mr. Pinchinat, who was the first to hold this position in the district, left GCSD in July 2023.

Previously employed by KIPP Capital Region Community Public Charter Schools, Mr. Westbrook served as the Director of KIPP Forward. Prior to his tenure with KIPP Forward, Mr. Westbrook was the founder and managing director of Pathfinder Consulting.

For Mr. Westbrook, “diversity, equity and inclusion are core values that not only guide my work, but my life.” When presented with the opportunity to attend a Cornell University summer program during high school, which he described as “a life-changing global immersion,” Mr. Westbrook developed an understanding and value for the opportunities DEI work presented.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in African/African-American Studies at the University of Albany, a Master of Arts in Black (Culture) Studies at The Ohio State University and a Doctorate of Education, ABD, in Educational Administration and Policy Studies, with a Concentration in Higher Education. Mr. Westbrook’s studies allowed him to focus on cultural studies and community development as well as the issues of multicultural education, social justice education and the emerging field of educational neuroscience.

Selected from more than 40 candidates by a large committee of GCSD stakeholders, which included parents, board of education members, students and staff, Mr. Westbrook appreciates that DEI work is integrated into so many aspects of the school community and is very much a foundation of the district’s mission and values. He refers to the equity teams at each school building, a district DEI committee and many DEI-focused student groups at the middle and high schools as examples of the many “moving parts” that help to fulfill GCSD’s mission of creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all.

A key objective for Mr. Westbrook is that “everyone feels connected, that they belong and that their voices are being heard.”

Leah Werther, Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA)

Woman is not looking at the camera. She's looking to the side. Her hand is to her chin. She's laughingMrs. Werther comes to GCSD to serve as the first DEI Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). Previously employed by the Niskayuna Central School District where she was the district’s DEI Coach; prior to that position, Mrs. Werther taught English Language Arts for 16 years.

In addition to her role with GCSD, Mrs. Werther serves as a co-director of the Capital District Writing Project and co-facilitator of the Freedom Dreaming for Educational Justice initiative. She is an active member of the Asian/Asian American Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and was the recipient of the 2023 Collaborators of Excellence Award from the New York State English Council (NYSEC).

The district is not responsible for facts or opinions contained on any linked site. Some links and features on this site require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. Visit the Adobe website to download the free Acrobat Reader. This website was produced by the Capital Region BOCES Engagement & Development Services, Albany, NY. Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.