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Podcast aims to ignite conversations about race within school district

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    PHILADELPHIA (KYW) — CBS3 is joining CBS News today for a one-day series of reports on unifying America, how Americans are finding common ground despite their differences. In Montgomery County, two leaders from different worlds found a mutual understanding inspired by civil unrest.

The police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota sent shockwaves through the nation’s communities and classrooms. Those sparks of civil unrest also inspired two Montgomery County school leaders to start serving “dinner.”

Doctors Todd Bauer and Marjorie Diegue are from two different worlds.

“My town is not diverse, my high school is not diverse, my college was not diverse and then I came back and worked in my hometown,” Bauer, the assistant superintendent at North Penn School District, said.

However, systemic racism, social justice and diversity are daily discussions in Diegue’s household.

“And I remember feeling very emotional. I was just literally upset every day and feeling frustrating,” Diegue, the assistant director of human resources at North Penn School District, said.

In the midst of a pandemic, where most were on lockdown, images of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake and others sent rioters into a frenzy, and Bauer reached out to his friend.

“I don’t know what to say to you, I don’t know what to do, just know I’m thinking of you and I want to be here for you,” Bauer said.

The offer was just what the doctors order. Bauer invited Diegue to transform his school podcast into “Time for Dinner.”

Guests are invited “to the table” for discussions of race, culture, equity and inclusion.

The show, nearly a dozen episodes in, has served to ignite difficult but necessary conversations in their North Penn School District community.

“There are many people who disagree but now feel comfortable saying OK, can we talk about it? The goal isn’t necessarily to agree, it’s just to be comfortable having a conversation,” Diegue said.

Guests have included Travis Wood, a police officer who happens to be Black.

Social unrest has simmered, but the discussion is far from over.

“We no longer live in a world where color blindness is OK, where we treat everyone the same. Rather, we should learn about people’s differences and celebrate them,” Bauer said.

These friends say a number of allies they’ve spoken to are afraid to say the wrong thing, and staying quiet is more comfortable.

The educators say their hope is that people can be more empowered by listening and learning how to start their own healthy conversations that can help change hearts and minds.

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