Pioneering anti-bullying leader Becki Cohn Vargas has left her position as Director of Not In Our School to focus on her health and treatment for ovarian cancer. Here at Not In Our Town, we miss her leadership and thinking every day, and join all of the educators and leaders who have worked with her in supporting her as she concentrates on the healing process and enjoying her friends and amazing family.
You can send Becki a message of support here. You may also leave messages below.
Becki joined the NIOT staff as Director of NIOS in 2011, after launching Not In Our School campaigns in Palo Alto where she worked as a Curriculum Director in the Palo Alto Unified School District.
Becki developed the Not In Our School program model based on the core driving principle that young people should be given the tools and guidance to take the lead to stop bullying and intolerance. Her research and book, written with Dorothy Steele Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong and Learn provides a vital perspective on the challenges of equity, the achievement gap, and intolerance and bullying in our schools.
“Identity safe classrooms are those in which teachers strive to ensure students that their social identities are an asset rather than a barrier to success in the classroom. And, through strong positive relationships and opportunities to learn, they feel they are welcomed, supported, and valued as members of the learning community.”
--Cohn Vargas and Steele
Becki’s work on identity safety provided the guiding principles and research for Not In Our School. Her blog posts on bullying and responding to hate and intolerance in schools have been featured by Edutopia, CNN, the American Federation of Teachers, Teaching Tolerance, and Facing History and Ourselves.
Her workshops, engagement with schools, and partnerships with educators in the NIOS network have reached over 250,000 students. She developed a NIOS film festival, produced a Not In Our School Video Action Kit and created a Guide for Inclusive and Identity Safe Schools.
She wrote countless educator guides for NIOT and NIOS films, and created rapid response blogs and guides for educators and communities facing hate violence and hate and bias incidents. She produced a short film with Our Family Coalition for elementary students about building acceptance for diverse families, especially for LGBT parents and young people.
Always an inspiring leader and activist, Becki is working on a new book, consulting with schools, continuing her research on identity safe schools, and writing her memoir, all while she goes through chemotherapy.
Becki, we love you and are grateful for all you are doing to build a more safe and inclusive world for our young people.