Compiled by Nicole Tomassi, Marketing & Conference Manager
For Westchester K-12’s final post of the decade, I asked the team members to reflect on events that were significant and meaningful to them this year. Below they share their thoughts:
Kevin Gray, Managing Director
I’m proud to see the growth and development of our team—both staff and freelance support. Going into 2019, we knew it would be a year to review, improve, and solidify processes as we expanded our staff footprint. In the two years since the founding of the division, we’ve not only tackled Herculean projects, but have also gelled in the way we work together, creating a culture of inclusion and respect that brings out the best in everyone on it.
Walter Henderson, Jr., Senior Supervising Editor, ELT
One event that really stood out for me was my involvement with a project of multicultural bilingual readers. After having lived and worked in Latin America for over 10 years, it was refreshing to re-visit lessons learned and experiences gained on the pages of these readers for young children. I was able to collaborate with many old colleagues from Mexico as well as work closely with new ones. It was certainly a gratifying episode in my time here with Westchester.
Anne Riccio, Senior Supervising Editor, ELA & Humanities
I was fortunate to work on an innovative and timely project aimed at Black and Latinx students in grades K through 6. The publisher selected books, many by minority writers, to include in a library of grade-appropriate fiction and nonfiction reading material. The books provide students with high-interest, culturally relevant stories and nonfiction narratives that give context to what young Black and Latinx males are experiencing in the world around them. Working with Black and Latinx editors, Westchester K-12 edited accompanying read-aloud book cards that teachers could use to engage students in discussions about issues and topics related to social justice and cultural identity, while giving students the opportunity and tools to grow as leaders and thinkers.
Dave Bailis, STEM Content Director
In April, I attended the ASU/GSV Conference in San Diego with Kevin Gray. We met with many industry leaders to discuss possible projects, and where we were headed as an organization. We talked with many people about our efforts to support diversity and inclusion both within our company and the industry, receiving a great deal of positive feedback about what we have achieved so far. You could just feel the energy at the conference; thousands of people buzzing to and fro, trying to make a difference for all of the end users of their amazing ideas and products. I look forward to attending next year as well, and getting to experience the type of excitement and hopefulness that led me to work in the education industry in the first place.
Mark DaGrossa, Creative Services Director
I had the opportunity to work with Chris Herrfurth, Production Manager on the creation of a set of 4 multicultural readers. Westchester K-12 supplied the writing, illustration, and production services for this series which was based on folklore stories of Mexico. The writer and illustrator had to be from Mexico for this project to give the stories the authenticity they required. The text for the readers is presented first in Spanish, followed by the English translation. It was great to work with the illustrator on coming up with the design concepts for these amazing books. The art really pops off of the pages and the stories are truly fun and engaging.
Chris Herrfurth, Production Manager
As we have grown both stateside and in partnership with our Noida-based team, we’ve delivered several very large programs on aggressive schedules in core areas, while also providing high-quality pages for many disparate supplemental publishers. We were able to successfully manage these multiple deliverables by leveraging our US-based resources on programs that needed high touch layouts, as well as our overseas teams who helped augment our resources on more standardized programs. I’m proud of the level of workflow customization we have been able to provide and of the end products we’ve delivered for satisfied clients.
Roger Market, Project Manager
This past summer, I managed the production of a series of four bilingual storybooks targeted at parents who want to read to their children in both English and Spanish. The illustrations are gorgeous, the stories are authentic retellings of folk tales from the Spanish-speaking world, and both were produced by native Spanish speakers. I’m so proud of these multicultural stories. They’re really going to give parents something meaningful to share with their children—not just language competency but also a set of stories that they too cherished as kids.
Nilofer Ali, Resources Manager
The 2019 highlight for me was really being able to dive into the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, and explore what that means with regard to our intern and freelance recruitment, utilization and retention. We’ve expanded the colleges/universities we’re working with to get the word out about educational publishing as an avenue to employment, and currently have two more really sharp interns, from two different colleges working with our team members. I also appreciated the opportunity to participate in the SIIA’s Education Business Forum panel, “Start with Inclusion”, which took place on December 9.
Tim Cross, Business Development Manager
One of the great things about being part of the Westchester K-12 team is the brilliant and talented people I get to work with, so our annual Dayton Summit was a highlight again this year. It takes some doing to get all of us in one location so that we have an entire day to talk and plan, but it’s well worth it! All that creativity and energy keeps me inspired for the rest of the year.