U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter
Equity Related Info. & Resources to Use and Share 1.17.23
From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
Dear U-46 Staff, Members of the Equity and Innovation Department are very interested in hearing your thoughts as we continue to grow in our equity, inclusion, and social justice efforts. Consider, for example, staff and students' sense of belonging. Does everyone feel that they belong? Well, attached to this introduction is a screenshot of our Panorama Survey results from last school year. Unfortunately, those results illustrate an overall decline in three of the four measured topic areas. Most striking of those four areas is our students' sense of belonging, which is not very favorable with only 49% of our students feeling as though they belong in our schools. According to Cornell University, "belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group." When students feel like they don’t belong at school, their performance and their personal lives suffer..." What can we do? If you would, please consider participating in this Thought Exchange, which you can find here no later than Friday, January 27th, to help us in our efforts to create a school district where everyone feels like they belong and are loved. Additionally, although there were tons of events that took place during the first semester, let's set our sights on what's ahead. For starters, January is a busy month. January 16th was the official observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s; however, his birthday is actually on January 15th. Also, January 17th was National Day of Racial Healing; this day is a time to consider and reflect on our shared values around racial healing while collectively creating a world where we learn to combat the ill effects of racism while working towards healing. To learn more about the National Day of Racial Healing, click here. Moreover, January 27th marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. For a comprehensive overview of the atrocities of the Holocaust, please click here. Finally, if there is something that you would like for us to consider adding to our newsletters, please let us know by dropping a note here. Yours in Service, Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D Assistant Superintendent for Equity and Innovation
Dear U-46 Staff,
Members of the Equity and Innovation Department are very interested in hearing your thoughts as we continue to grow in our equity, inclusion, and social justice efforts. Consider, for example, staff and students' sense of belonging. Does everyone feel that they belong? Well, attached to this introduction is a screenshot of our Panorama Survey results from last school year. Unfortunately, those results illustrate an overall decline in three of the four measured topic areas. Most striking of those four areas is our students' sense of belonging, which is not very favorable with only 49% of our students feeling as though they belong in our schools. According to Cornell University, "belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group." When students feel like they don’t belong at school, their performance and their personal lives suffer..."
What can we do? If you would, please consider participating in this Thought Exchange, which you can find here no later than Friday, January 27th, to help us in our efforts to create a school district where everyone feels like they belong and are loved.
Additionally, although there were tons of events that took place during the first semester, let's set our sights on what's ahead. For starters, January is a busy month. January 16th was the official observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s; however, his birthday is actually on January 15th. Also, January 17th was National Day of Racial Healing; this day is a time to consider and reflect on our shared values around racial healing while collectively creating a world where we learn to combat the ill effects of racism while working towards healing. To learn more about the National Day of Racial Healing, click here. Moreover, January 27th marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. For a comprehensive overview of the atrocities of the Holocaust, please click here.
Finally, if there is something that you would like for us to consider adding to our newsletters, please let us know by dropping a note here.
Yours in Service,
Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
Assistant Superintendent for Equity and Innovation
Black History Month is Coming!
February and Black History Month are quickly approaching! We are so looking forward to celebrating, honoring, and paying tribute to the achievements and history of African Americans.
Gail Borden has compiled resources from our amazing Black voices that we hope you’ll use and share to acknowledge both the adversities and incredible triumphs that are so integral to U.S. and global histories. There is an upcoming event we hope you'll tune into and an exciting sweepstakes to enter as well!
Gail Borden will be sharing these tools and books all year long, and hope you’ll join us in doing the same.
Ukrainian Facts v Fiction
According to RefugeeOne, more than 20,000 refugees from Ukraine have settled in Illinois as of late December 2022. The exact number, however, is still elusive. Nevertheless, we must be careful to avoid sharing misinformation about Ukrainians especially as we welcome more families and children from Ukraine into our schools. To strengthen and promote an evidence-based protection response, the United Nations High Commissioners of Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners in Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have been implementing a Protection Profiling and Monitoring exercise to regularly collect and analyze data about the profiles, needs and intentions of refugees from Ukraine and monitor changes over time. Their dashboard provides results from more than 43,000 interviews conducted between May and November of last year.
What Do Students Learn in AVID?
The AVID classes throughout the U46 middle and high schools are designed to support students’ in their preparation and growth toward post-secondary success in college and/or careers. To do this, the AVID curriculum consists of lessons and experiences to develop teamwork and collaboration, interpersonal relationships, learning strategies, reading and writing skills, note-taking strategies, organizational strategies, and college and career research. AVID teachers follow the curriculum identified as WAG’s (Weeks at a Glance) to plan their lessons. At the beginning of the second semester each grade level from 7th through 12th grade will participate in special units designed to many of the skills above while keeping a focus on the skills listed above. In the next several weeks the AVID students will experience the following projects:
7th grade – College Research
8th grade – Career Research
9th grade – Mandala Unit
10th grade – Test preparation for SAT and other tests
11th grade – Test preparation for SAT and other tests
12th grade – Financial Literacy and Service Learning
If you have any questions about the projects listed above, or about AVID, please contact the Site
Coordinator or Site Administrator at each of the U46 middle schools or high schools.
Teachers, if you haven't heard about the latest tech craze surrounding ChatGPT, I encourage you to read more here and play around with it as well. I'm sure that many of our students are already hip to this new AI feature, which just went public in November.
Affinity Groups in U-46
We are in our third year of leveraging affinity groups to hold safe and brave spaces for all staff within U-46. In addition to engaging through African American, Asian, Latino/a/x, LGBTQ+, and White Allyship affinity groups, this year we have platforms for our colleagues who identify as someone from the Individuals with Disabilities and MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) communities. As you read this article about the positive role affinity groups play within the workplace, consider how it aligns to your desire to feel embraced, validated, affirmed, and valued for who you are, each of your unique and shared experiences, and all that you bring with you every day that you serve within U-46. If this sounds like something that you would like to be a part of or continue being a part of, join us by completing the Affinity Group Interest Survey or reach out to Lisa Jackson, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions.
LGBTQ+ Affinity Group Survey Results
Thank you to the following schools where at least one staff member responded to our LGBTQ+ Affinity Group Staff Survey: Elementary Schools: Bartlett, Fox Meadow, Garfield, Glenbrook, Hanover Countryside, Harriett Gifford, Hilltop, Illinois Park Center, Independence, Lords Park, Ontarioville, Otter Creek, Parkwood, Ridge Circle, Sunnyvale, and Sycamore Trails; Middle Schools: Abbott, Canton, Ellis, Kenyon, and Tefft. High Schools: Bartlett, DREAM Academy, Elgin, South Elgin, and Streamwood. Special shout out to Bartlett High School and Illinois Park Center for Early Learning for having double digit representation!
January often symbolizes new beginnings. There’s resolutions, goals, and intentions set to springboard us both personally and professionally. January is also a time to reflect and remember as we look to support those students and staff that are a part of our U46 community. As we begin this new year, the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group is seeing one of its previous goals take shape. Our leadership is meeting to begin working on professional development surrounding LGBTQ+ School Laws, Policies, & Procedures. As many may be aware, the Inclusive Curriculum Law – House Bill 246 – will ensure the inclusion of the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum taught in Illinois public schools (equityillinois.us). This law took effect beginning with the 2020-21 school year.
You may be asking yourself how you can implement it in your classroom, or even begin to support the community overall. For those that are ready to work it into their history lessons, January 27, 2023 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day when we remember the atrocities inflicted by the Nazi regime amongst those of the Jewish faith and reaffirm our vow to stand up when others spew hate. But did you know that LGBTQ+ individuals were also rounded up, forced to wear pink triangles to denote their sexuality, and were subjected to torture and science experiments in the camps in order to “fix” them? A history that has gone unrecognized by those outside of the LGBTQ+ community (*see links below).
If you are not quite ready for the history and you are still exploring how incorporate this the LGBTQ+ community into your lessons, but want to begin your journey of support, try “No Name Calling Week” which is sponsored by GLSEN (*see link below) and occurs the third week of January. This event could be done in your classroom, or, for those who are feeling ambitious, throughout your school. It’s a chance to address name calling, bullying, and bias that occurs not just for those in the LGBTQ+ community, but for many marginalized communities throughout U46, through a focus on word use, biased language, and the effects positive, affirming language can have on your school environment.
No matter where you start or what you start with, let’s use this new year to begin exploring how to support those in the LGBTQ+ community within our classrooms and schools. Set a goal to create one lesson that honors different types of families. Set an intention of using gender neutral terms. Create a resolution to have a more inclusive classroom. Whatever that small step is and no matter how hard it may seem, just take that first step and have a fabulous start to your 2023!
Follow Their L.E.A.D
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. states that, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others? '”. The I am LEAD young ladies at Century Oak Elementary School answer that question by demonstrating their leadership at their book fair. Fifth grader Ambrie'L, and sixth graders Cecelia (CeeCee), Liliana (Levi), Imani, Larissa, and Aaliyah found it important to give of themselves by reading to some of the younger students in the building. While they each find pleasure and enjoyment in reading for themselves, this was a tremendous opportunity for them to share their love for reading with others.
Imani, "Reading to the kid's makes me excited to see their faces light up as I tell stories. Not only do I love reading myself, reading to others is 10 times better for me. As someone who gets anxious a lot, reading to others helps me learn to maintain my composure.”
Larissa, "Reading to the little kids made me feel good. As I am a person who stutters, talking to others shows that it doesn't matter what problems you may have, you can always do something positive to help others and be proud of yourself."
Aaliyah, "Reading to the little kids made me feel relieved because when I messed up, they didn't notice all of my mistakes. It made me happy to be a positive influence."
Although this is the first year of having the I am LEAD experience at Century Oaks, the young ladies have been given plenty of fertile ground to develop their leadership skills. Pam Dufflin, the school's speech therapist, volunteers her extra time to make space for them to express themselves, discover new ideas, and find joy in learning. Pam shared, "I have enjoyed working in District U-46 for the last 10 years because it has given me the opportunity to work with kids from all walks of life. It has also opened the door for me to help students and their families understand that anything is possible. I encourage our students to see every experience and opportunity as a learning experience and to grow from it.”
Who are our U-46 Equity Ambassadors?
Promoting Equity Every Day
Meet Olivia Hollingsworth, U-46 Equity Ambassador. For the past seven years Olivia has been teaching at Wayne Elementary as a Learning Behavioral Specialist/Case Manager, a Cross Categorical K-6 Teacher, and most recently a MLP Primary K-3 Teacher. Olivia defines Educational Equity as representative, responsive, and adaptive to the intersectional identities of learners, where high quality integrated curriculum and individualized education affords ACCESS to ALL, while rectifying oppressive systems of inequity.
Like teaching, being an Equity Ambassador is a practice in Olivia’s eyes. There is no true end, there is only life-long learning and evolving in practice. Olivia represents being an ambassador most often by having courage and vision. Courage to speak up, the courage to stand alone for what is right, the courage to rest as a form of resistance, and the courage to take time to vision-dream a different world for our students starting in our schools.
Promoting equity within our district includes roles as an active member of the Equity Committee and Union. The daily and specific work role as a Case Manager/Specialist is at the heart of equity. Olivia’s position is continually faced with having to defeat deficit narratives on what students receiving Special Supports can/cannot do.
Olivia Hollingsworth says, “Love is a verb and I show my love through action. Part of that action and what I find the most joy in as an educator is teaching children to read. Reading is a form of liberation that lives for generations and honors those who forged before us. Liberation through literacy allows for more access to knowledge. Knowledge is empowering, and many times hoarded by the privileged. As a reminder daily of the magnificent power of education, a Fredrick Douglas quote is framed in my class that reads: "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken [wo]men.”
Connect with Olivia Hollingsworth, U-46 Equity Ambassador at Wayne Elementary, working on the Equity Committee, or through her work in the Union (ETA/IEA/NEA).
Do you know an Equity Ambassador in U-46? Tell me about them email@example.com or on Twitter @doroberts30
Computer Science: The Issue is Access
It is commonly recognized that careers in computer ccience are in very high demand and can lead to well above the living wage. In fact, a brief search on Indeed this morning showed 5,280 open computer science jobs in the Chicago metropolitan area. An interesting note is that 3,384 of these jobs advertised salaries of $100,000 or more. According to US Labor Department statistics, the projected demand for these careers is expected to stay strong for the foreseeable future.
The article “Lack Of Access To Computer Science Resources, Not Lack Of Interest, Negatively Impacts Students From Underrepresented Groups,” published in Forbes Magazine digs into how important it is for students to have access to both computer science courses in school as well as opportunities to interact with positive professionals in this industry.
In U-46 we currently have two Essential Technology courses in 7th and 8th grade as well as two Computer Science courses in high school. We identified that the strong interest and excitement demonstrated in the middle school courses was not carrying over to enrollment in the high school courses. After much research and conversation, CTE Coordinator Melissa Damewood convened a call to committee to devise a solution. The committee has devised a series of courses to bridge the gap between the high-interest middle school courses and the high value high school courses. This proposal is currently being reviewed by Instructional Council and we look forward to sharing more information here and with our U-46 community once approved. We are especially excited to increase access to our student population and set them on a path to a high wage/ high demand career.
Career and Technical Education Spotlight on Engineering
High school students who are interested in engineering have the opportunity to explore and develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this field. U-46 middle and high schools offer engineering classes that allow students to get hands-on experience with engineering concepts and projects. These programs can be a great way for students to discover their passion for engineering and prepare for a career in this field. Engineers use their skills and knowledge to design and build systems, structures, and products that shape the world around us.
By studying engineering, students can gain the skills and knowledge they need for a better future. Some ways in which students might use engineering to design a career include:
Developing new technologies and systems to address environmental challenges, such as climate change, pollution, and resource depletion.
Designing more efficient and sustainable infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, and water supply systems.
Developing new medical technologies and devices to improve healthcare and quality of life.
Creating innovative products and services that meet the needs of people and improve their daily lives.
Applying engineering principles to solve complex problems and create solutions to global challenges, such as poverty, inequality, and disease.
There have also been many exciting advances in robotic engineering in recent years. Some examples include:
Development of more advanced sensors and control systems: Robots can now be equipped with a wide variety of sensors, such as cameras, lidar, and GPS, which allow them to perceive and understand their environment. This has led to the development of more advanced control systems that can enable robots to perform a wide range of tasks.
Improvements in mobility and manipulation: Robots are becoming increasingly mobile, with the ability to move around in complex environments and manipulate objects with greater precision and dexterity.
Increased use of machine learning: Machine learning algorithms have been used to enable robots to learn and adapt to new tasks, allowing them to perform tasks that they have not been explicitly programmed to do.
Development of collaborative robots: Collaborative robots, or cobots, are designed to work alongside humans in a shared workspace. This has led to the development of new safety standards and guidelines for the use of robots in close proximity to humans.
U-46 offers Introduction to Engineering classes at all middle schools. And, at the High Schools we offer:
Introduction to Engineering Design Honors
Principles of Engineering Design Honors
Digital Electronics Honors
Civil Engineering and Architecture Honors
Engineering Design and Development Honors
Taking engineering classes in high school can be a smart way to explore the field and see if it is a good fit. It can also offer a solid foundation in the principles of engineering, which can be helpful when deciding to pursue a career in this field. While engineering is a large field, there is predicted job growth in all major areas. U-46 is laying the foundation for students to have successful futures.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Biomedical engineer – 23.1% job growth
Environmental engineer – 12.4% job growth
Petroleum engineer – 9.8% job growth
Civil engineer – 8.4% job growth
Mechanical engineer – 5.3% job growth
Post Secondary Success Spotlight-Larkin High
Life After Larkin is a post-secondary preparatory club hosted at Larkin High School. The club meets twice a month to provide assistance on the students’ college search, college applications, financial aid, scholarships, essays and/or career exploration. This club is run by student mentors that are senior AVID and OneGoal students who are selected by the club sponsors. These students are motivated and want to assist their peers in the post-secondary process.
Life After Larkin is inclusive to all students no matter the post-secondary path they are taking. Not only does it provide support to seniors for college, but also highlights different careers, trades, and the military. The club hosts speakers from different careers and trades that bring insight about the career paths and what the students' next steps will be after high school. The members are focused and dedicated to helping seniors find their footing in the postsecondary world after high school.
U-46 Equity Plan
Location: 355 East Chicago Street, Elgin, IL, USA
Equity and Innovation Department
- Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D, Asst. Superintendent of Equity & Innovation
- Mitch Briesemeister, Director of Educational Pathways
- Michele Chapman, Director of Postsecondary Success
- Lisa Jackson, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Melissa Damewood, CTE Coordinator
- Alexa Charsha Hahn, School Counselor Lead
- Doreen Roberts, Teacher Leader
- Al Tamburrino, District AVID Support
- Jennifer Downey, Secretary of Career and Technical Education
- Margaret Kallal, Secretary of Educational Pathways and Postsecondary Success
- Melissa Stevenson, Administrative Asst. of Equity & Innovation