U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter
Equity Related Info. & Resources to Use and Share 12.7.22
From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
The late writer and civil rights activist, James Baldwin, said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” I cannot help but think how deeply true Baldwin’s assertions are- not just in society but in our school systems as well. In U-46, we are inundated with data. We have data regarding attendance, academic outcomes, rigorous course (AP, Dual Credit, Dual Language, Gifted, etc.) participants, learning/rigor walks, behavioral infractions, staffing demographics, sense of belonging (Panorama), and much more. Even with all the data at our fingertips, why do some results remain stagnant and in some instances, illustrate a downward spiral? Why do persistent gaps persist? This week, I had the chance to attend a workshop entitled, ‘Addressing Chronic Absenteeism Through Inclusive and Equitable Practices’. In this session, the facilitator, Dr. Markenya L. Williams, asked participants to identify the direct and indirect exclusionary practices in our respective school or school system. See the list below.
Common Direct Exclusionary Practices
- In-school detention
- Zero tolerance policies
- Law enforcement policies
- Allowing students to miss school or classes
- Allowing students to disengage from learning
Common Indirect Exclusionary Practices
- Grade retention
- Unwelcoming to parents and community members
- Not valuing non-White behavior, cultural capitol, aesthetic, language, or dress
- Hostile treatment- ignoring, ridiculing, harassment, & denial of oppression
- Emotional abuse- shaming, tokenizing, teasing, & dismissiveness
*source: Markenya L. Williams
After reviewing the list, it struck me that too many of the exclusionary practices, both direct and indirect, take place in our schools. So, who are the students being excluded? Why? Here’s the thing, if we do not take time to truly monitor data daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and annually while also examining the root causes noting the disparities among oppressed populations, then nothing can be changed as Mr. Baldwin shared more than four decades ago. Are you ready to change?
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
LGBTQ+ Affinity Group Survey Results
Thank you to all that completed the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group staff survey. So far we have received 40 responses which have given our group a great starting point as far as the knowledge staff have and the training they would like to receive. Here are a few statistics from the survey to put the information in perspective:
About 74% of respondents were either from elementary or high schools.
About 60% of respondents were classroom teachers
Top three professional development requisitions
LGBTQ+ School Laws, Policies, & Procedures (69% of respondents interested)
Conversations - How to Turn a Teachable Moment into a Meaningful Conversation (57% of respondents interested)
Literature - How to Integrate at ALL Grade Levels (43% of respondents interested)
These results are helping our affinity group to begin looking into ways to address the most pressing needs of our school districts as identified by those who are directly serving students. As we look at developing PD around the top three interests expressed by those who responded, we plan to keep the survey open and continue to review the results to make sure that we as a district are meeting the needs of the staff as they serve those within the LGBTQ+ community. If you did not participate in the survey and would like your voice to be heard, please consider clicking here and completing the google form.
If you are looking for a way to become more informed as we develop the PD, please consider checking out one of the links below, which all have wonderful resources for educators, and/or consider taking the OPTIONAL GCN which is titled LGBTQ Awareness. It’s about a half-hour long, but it is filled with some fundamental information to get you started on your journey.
Again thank you for your support as we continue to build diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of our educational system.
https://www.genderinclusiveschools.org/educator-pd (highly recommend)
Brothers Rise Up Book Review: Ghost by Jason Reynolds
The young men from Washington Elementary School, Kenyon Woods Middle School, and Canton Middle School read and discussed Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Ghost is a book about facing your fears and they believe it is worth the read. Four of our BRU students have provided you with an academic tease. After reading them I am sure that you will not be able to resist getting your own copy.
- Jovonni (7 th grader) “The book is about how he is trying to make a better life for himself, and he kind of has trouble with Coach Brody. The book made me feel excited because in the beginning of the book, the race was really interesting.”
- Jaylen (7 th grader) “Ghost’s dad is in jail for firing a gun at Ghost and his mom. Ghost cut his high-top shoes because his teammates told him it would be easier to run in lower shoes. He gave himself the nickname Ghost because they said he always looked like he had just seen a ghost.”
- Damacio (8 th grader) “Ghost is poor. His dad is in jail for trying to shoot his son, and his mom works a lot at a hospital. Ghost doesn't go to school because he is bad. He went to a track meet and almost beat the fastest person there, and then joined the track team and stole shoes from a store. The coach finds out and makes him clean out his car and get back on the team. They had a special dinner before the race and then the book ended. It was a very good book.”
- Fabien (7 th grader) “The book is about a kid that has a traumatic experience in his life and he figures out that he can run very fast, and at school, he decides to join the track team. On the track team he meets a lot of friends. You can also see that the main character doesn't have that much of a living condition. He lives in an apartment with his mom. It's really not that big of an apartment. And also, where he lives is not really that rich. It's mostly poor but it's not really a good city or a place to be. And also, where he lives is not really that rich. It's mostly poor but it's not really a good city or a place to be. And also, the main character doesn't have a father (or has the father that he used to) but the coach that he has for his track team is kind of like a father figure to him and his peers.”
Who are our U-46 Equity Ambassadors?
South Elgin High School is the home to Spanish teacher, Saul Vazquez, one of our amazing Equity Ambassadors. Saul’s radiant spirit is felt by students and colleagues alike. He does not consider himself an expert, yet he is constantly working to become a master teacher.
Saul feels the term equity is very complex. He defines educational equity as the implementation of a well-defined educational system that caters to students of all kinds. In other words, no matter what a student’s background, language, ethnicity, economic status, gender, learning capability, or learning disability, each student has the chance to get the services, support and resources they need to accomplish their educational goals.
As an Equity Ambassador, Saul Vazquez, tries to tailor lessons with the mindset of giving everyone the chance to learn in the way that best supports their learning style. At the beginning of the year his students take a survey that will indicate the best ways they learn. The information students provide about the way they learn is incorporated into different activities, methods, and materials for each student to succeed. Saul establishes a strong connection with students and their families, so they can work together. Junta para Padres is an initiative Saul participates in that helps Latino families understand the American school system so they can assist their children and become more involved within the school.
Saul Vazquez is passionate about best practices in teaching and learning. Besides my
love for education, I also love the collecting world, says Vazquez. The students at South Elgin High School have voted Mr. Vazquez World Languages Teacher of the Year and South Elgin Teacher of the Year (more than once). If you know Saul, you know you are with an individual who believes in cultivating spaces where everyone feels they belong.
Connect with Saul Vazquez when you visit South Elgin High School.
Do you know an Equity Ambassador? Tell me about them @doroberts30 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com, if you have any questions.
U-46 Equity Plan
CTE Spotlight: Model Programs of Study
When you chose a career as a young person, how did you determine the path that would get you there? Most young people have access to highly trained counselors who do their best to help students plan for their post-secondary education. However, the intricacies of selecting the proper school or program after high school can be very confusing. This is especially true if your parents or guardians have never attended college, or participated in an apprenticeship program. One tool that is being developed to provide more access to post secondary education is the Model Programs of Study.
The nonprofit EdSystems of Northern Illinois University was sponsored by the Illinois Community College Board to partner with stakeholders in drafting the Model Programs of Study which serve as maps for young people to carve out the path to their futures. EdSystems partnered with Elgin Community College and school districts in our region to develop even more specific Regional Model Programs of study to support our young people matriculating to Elgin Community College or a university.
I encourage you to visit the links above and review the Model Programs of Study. Now when you have conversations with students and their families about their future, you have a resource that you can share with them so they have a clear understanding of exactly what their post secondary plan might look like and why challenging themselves with the most rigorous coursework during their time with us is so critical.
CTE Spotlight on Child Development/ Teacher Education Pathway
U-46 has a robust Child Development/ Teacher Education Pathway that promotes students exploring the field of child development and teacher education. An outstanding example of this district program can be found at Larkin High School under the direction of Aurora Scarpaci. Aurora has created an innovative environment where students can take classes and have access to a multitude of real world experiences to support their learning and exposure to a variety of career paths in the teaching and learning field.
“Students can choose from a variety of classes and experiences to develop their understanding and interest in human development and education. In every field there are educators; business, healthcare, engineering, every area needs educators and that’s why these classes are so critical to a students development. Being able to understand the process and stages of development and then apply them to a teaching platform supports students in every facet of their lives. I like to say that we are all students and teachers every day of our lives. What I provide is a way for our U-46 students to develop the skill set to be an outstanding teacher and student.” Stated Ms. Scarpaci
Students can choose from a variety of options and have many practical experiences, such as the real care baby that simulates what it’s like to care for an infant, to being a part of the Educators Rising club. Students can also choose to be a part of the preschool program hosted at the school where they develop lessons and observe preschool children. Educators Rising is a national future teachers organization that supports high school students exploring teaching as a career. They host conferences and other events that connect students to opportunities and develop their knowledge about educational programming.
Ms. Scarpaci went on to say “Students learn what it’s like to be an educator in our Larkin state-of-the-art preschool lab. This lab allows students to work with manipulatives, science and math materials and muscle group support to develop a variety of learning options for students. I am always impressed by the creativity of our students when developing activities for our preschoolers and we are fortunate to have a facility that allows them the opportunity to achieve superior outcomes for our preschoolers. However, it is also wonderful to have the students reflect on what they have discovered and understand the balance of both the art and science of teaching.”
The capstone experience of this pathway is the Education Internship where students are placed in elementary or middle schools and have a mentor teacher who works with them in a classroom environment. The mentor teacher supports the high school student in understanding what it means to be a teacher and offers opportunities for students to develop and execute lessons, prepare materials, offer supportive feedback on assignments and become a part of a classroom experience.
“While many of our students are placed in a traditional classroom, we also place students in special education self contained settings, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other educational settings. Every student’s experience is based on their interests and what aspect of teaching they would like to explore. The teachers we work with are thrilled to have our high school students in their classrooms and feel a real sense of pride when a student chooses to come back to a classroom that they were taught in. I also am excited when a student I had as a preschooler comes back to be a preschool teacher, that full circle moment is special.” Said Ms. Scarpaci
This program has produced many Golden Apple Scholarship recipients. Golden Apple is an elite national scholarship that awards free tuition to students who are education majors in college. Students have also participated in the Educators Rising Conference at Northern Illinois University and the future teachers conference at Illinois State University.
“ I am proud of all of our students at Larkin High School achieving their personal best but it is amazing to attend state conferences and watch our students shine. They are poised and confident because of all of the opportunities U-46 has been able to offer them. When I send them off to college I know they are ready to take on the world and become amazing future educators.” said Ms. Scarpaci
Post Secondary Success Spotlight-Kenyon Woods Middle School Counselors
For the 2022-23 school year, School District U-46 has added one to two school counselors to each of our middle schools. This additional counseling staff has provided our middle school students access to more academic, social emotion and post secondary support.
This month’s focus is on our three middle school counselors at Kenyon Wood High School: Jessica Ventrella, Eve Perdikaris and Sean Hardiman. The three counselors share that adding two additional counselors to the Kenyon Woods team has been instrumental in working towards success for all students. We now have more opportunities to work with our students holistically; involving their teachers, families, and community supports to assure each students’ needs are being met with a team approach.
The Kenyon Woods team believes that the additional counselors allow for a more proactive response. For example, they said, "We are able to be proactive in our supports by creating problem-solving teams alongside our Social Worker and MTSS Tier members, effectively collaborating with our staff and aligning our work with our site goals. We have had the opportunity to work closely with our students while incorporating topics related to college and career exploration, such as those showcased at the Explore event. These topics have helped us to guide our students through their educational journey, setting the foundation for post-secondary readiness.
Our individual and small-group meetings with students have become more efficient and effective. We can help our students create goals and monitor their progress with higher fidelity. At the core of everything we do, we have been able to create stronger, trusting, and consistent relationships with our students. They have greater access to us, they know that we listen, and they know that we care. That, in our opinion, has been the most important and most meaningful role of all."
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