U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter

Information and Resources for Everyone to Use and Share

April 7, 2022

Published by members of the Equity & 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
  • Alexa Charsha Hahn, School Counselor Lead
  • Doreen Roberts, Teacher Leader
  • Al Tamburrinno, 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

From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D

Almost two years under my belt, here in U-46, and I continue to learn and grow through my interactions with staff, our community, families, and students. I am a firm believer that we should not be vessels of information; rather, we should publicly share what we learn. In the book, Street Data, which members of the equity committee just wrapped up reading last month, author Carrie Wilson suggests that "public learning helps us move from solely supporting more routine expertise to cultivating adaptive expertise" (p.156). Wilson further provides several elements of public learning that include beginning with curiosity and uncovering student experiences (2021).


As such, I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to listen and learn from some of our high school students, through focus groups, regarding their perceptions of belonging, school community, and school culture and climate. I hope to be able to share my learnings with each of you in future newsletters. For now, might we all continue to live and lead with a lens of curiosity and the willingness to listen and learn from our students. Speaking of curiosity, this month I was also able to learn from Dr. Ma, principal of Ontarioville Elementary School. Watch the video here to see my interview with Dr. Ma and here about her experiences as an English Learner during high school.


As a reminder, this year's 2nd Annual Equity Symposium will take place from August 8th through August 12th. You can take a look here to read what was said about last year's kickoff. A special thank you to our equity symposium planning team: Lisa Jackson, Karla Jiminez, Kelly Gilbert, Melissa Stevenson, Heather Fellows, Jaimie Giraldo, Tony Romero, and Alisha Wildermuth.


Although we have keynotes lined up for each day, we are confident that many of our colleagues have the expertise and knowledge to facilitate sessions during our equity symposium week. Therefore, we hope you will consider facilitating one or multiple breakout sessions during the symposium. If you are interested and willing to present, please review the Equity Symposium Presenter Interest Form here. As an FYI, CPDUs will be offered as part of this professional development opportunity.


Finally, as you peruse our newsletter, please hover over several sections as we have provided many hyperlinked articles and resources. For example, if you hover over the section titled, "April is Arab American Heritage Month" and click on the heading, it will take you to an embedded article.


Again, thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy!


Yours in Service,

Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D

Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Innovation

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April is Arab American Heritage Month

Do you want to learn more about how to support our Arab American students while building the cultural competency of our non-Arab American students? Read more to find out how.

The Power of Protocols for Equity (Article)

Considering academic teaming...Structured protocols can help teachers ensure equitable participation and create more culturally responsive discussions.

The Importance of a Diverse Teaching Force

"Teachers are the most important in-school factor that contributes to student learning. A strong and diverse teacher workforce positively contributes to student attendance, access to advance coursework..."

ISBE-Equity Journey Continuum

The Equity Journey Continuum is an informational tool for districts to track their progress toward closing gaps in student achievement, opportunities, and supports.

Education Equity Starts with Critical Love

Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, associate professor at Columbia University believes that equity starts with “critical love.” Keep reading to find out how Dr. Sealey-Ruiz defines critical love.

Equity Committee Ambassadors

Have you ever wanted to know who serves on our U-46 Equity Committee? Well, you do not have to wonder any longer. Click on the button text to learn more.

U-46 Equity Plan

Although our equity committee is currently revising our existing equity plan, we encourage you to read through the equity plan here beginning with the board policy, mission statement, and then, core beliefs. Next, examine our equity pillars and noted action steps. Finally, consider what action steps you can take to help bring about equitable outcomes, create an inclusive environment, and honor the unique identities our colleagues, families, and students possess.

Equity Committee Meeting

Thursday, April 21st, 4-6pm

This is an online event.

The U-46 Equity Committee meets on the third Thursday of every month.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

AVID’s mission is to close the opportunity gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. Schools with a strong AVID elective have the opportunity to develop their AVID Schoolwide College and Career Readiness System (ASCRS) which can transform the entire school. A strong and effective ASCRS is created through the development of four domains: Systems, Leadership, Instruction, and Culture (SLIC). The research behind the four domains proves that a school (or district) that focuses its energies strategically and monitors the development of each domain, transforms into a high-powered and successful educational system. Although there are many aspects of each domain that can impact or affect another domain’s success, AVID has developed a rubric for the assessment of each domain based on numerous indicators. This assessment tool is identified as the AVID CCI or Coaching and Certification Instrument which allows the AVID Site Team to evaluate each indicator based on five levels of implementation. The CCI is used annually to develop and monitor the school’s goals and is currently being reviewed by each site in the spring.


Recently all 13 U-46 secondary schools were approved to receive a daily period for the AVID Site Coordinator to use for the development of the ASCRS at their school. This much-needed coordination time will support the move of AVID’s researched-based instructional strategies beyond the AVID elective class and into the whole school. There are many responsibilities related to the AVID Site Coordinator or AVID Lead Teacher role including facilitation of Site Team Meetings, coordination of AVID reports, liaison with the AVID District Director, and leading the AVID system development at their site. The creation of dedicated time for this work is a tremendous commitment to promoting AVID as a school-wide transformational agent.

Educational Pathways

The overarching goal of Educational Pathways is to ensure that all students are college and career ready. In order to achieve this, we need to first determine high school metrics that are predictive of college and career success. The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act (PWR) was developed with input from many stakeholders to help school districts prepare students for postsecondary success. The frameworks within the Act outline the activities and competencies that are predictive of student success. The PWR included a voluntary process for school districts to award College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) to students which recognize the students' accomplishments in preparing themselves for life after high school. The components of a CCPE include:

  • Completion of an individualized postsecondary plan.
  • Completion of at least two career oriented courses within an Endorsement Area.
  • Students must earn 6 hours of early college credit.
  • Complete 60 hours of work based learning, two team based challenges, and two career exploration activities.
  • Demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework in reading and mathematics as measured by a local community college.


Next year U-46 plans to offer an endorsement in Health Sciences and Technology. This endorsement will be able to be earned by students participating in one of our dual-credit certified Certified Nursing Assistant programs. More information and guidance will be available this fall to counselors and families as students begin to plan course registration. We hope to add one to two CCPE’s as we are able to establish the required 6 hours of dual credit in each corresponding program.


The College and Career Pathway Endorsement will provide an exciting and engaging process that leads to our students being fully prepared for their life after high school. At the same time we will be fully leveraging our business and postsecondary partners to greatly increase high value work based learning opportunities so students are fully aware of career opportunities and have started obtaining critical employability skills.

Hatching An Idea: INCubatoredu™

Most of us know an incubator is used for hatching eggs. The environment in the incubator is prime for growth and development inside the egg. When the animal is ready, it hatches and begins living outside the incubator.


The Magnet Academy at Streamwood High School implemented a new course this year, INCubatoredu™ from Uncharted Learning. INCubatoredu™ provides an optimal environment for students to grow and develop ideas and hatch start-ups. Students apply business concepts and work through the design process, in teams, to bring ideas to fruition.

Meagen Balzer, the SHS INCubatoredu™ teacher, ensures the learning environment supports students in developing their entrepreneurial mindsets. She has seen firsthand the benefits of student teamwork throughout the course. Although implementing a new course requires a time commitment from the teacher to learn the curriculum, attend professional development, and secure resources, an area Balzer focused on was teaching strategies. She sought out and introduced the SHS entrepreneurs to effective teaming opportunities, mirroring the professional environments of the business community. Through teaming she has witnessed student creativity, student confidence, student self-reflection, student pride, and student ownership of their learning.


Ms. Balzer, with the support of SHS administrators, set up mentoring experiences with entrepreneurs from the local community for each student team. The partnerships between entrepreneurial mentors and the student teams further the professional learning environment. Teams experience the authentic application of business concepts and become valued by members of the local community. The SHS entrepreneurs learn from their failures and celebrate their successes with their mentors. The mentors are invested in the success of their entrepreneurial mentees and are proud of the work that has occurred.


Although the SHS entrepreneurs are excited to hatch their start-ups, implementing INCubatoredu™ has had its challenges. Figuring out how to deal with challenges has become part of the learning process for Balzer, the mentors, and the student entrepreneurs. Access to technology is an area identified by students that offer opportunities for growth. The safety precautions in place for student learning limit student access to customers and business partners. Businesses today utilize social media for communication, marketing, and feedback. They utilize software and applications for prototypes and final products. The student entrepreneurs can only utilize school devices as students. They cannot communicate outside the District, access social media, or utilize some programs and applications outside the school network. Even though many students have personal devices, they may have limits such as data use or software capabilities, and access to a personal device may not be available to all. Opportunities for growth have ignited ingenuity and promoted problem-solving within student teams, yet equity of access to technology, while keeping students safe, is a work in progress.


The addition of INCubatoredu™ to the SHS Magnet Academy has been a growth and learning opportunity for all. Balzer has access to nationwide support and collaboration. Students are contextualizing learning, networking within the local community, developing employability skills, and have discovered they are part of the business community. Community members are connecting with students to share their experiences and expertise. One of the best indicators of success, according to Balzer, is students talk with their families and friends about being entrepreneurs, they are excited to share what they are doing and learning!


The SHS entrepreneurs cannot wait to pitch their ideas and hatch their start-ups at Pitch Night as the year comes to a close. The SHS team cannot wait to welcome rising entrepreneurs into INCubatoredu™ to hatch more unique ideas!


Thank you to Meagen Balzer for sharing her experience.

Post Secondary Success

One goal of our Post Secondary Team is to provide college and career ready experiences for all of our students. Students of all ages must have opportunities to understand how classroom instruction and learning connects to college and career.


Dual Credit (DC), Advanced Placement (AP) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses work together to support college and career readiness by encouraging the development of our students' academic and technical skills.


Students have the opportunity to take English, math, certified nursing assistant, and Spanish courses through our dual credit program with Elgin Community College. Dual credit courses follow the college curriculum and syllabus and provide students with transferable college credit when students earn a “C” or better in the class. These courses are offered at each of our high schools and taught by our U-46 staff.


U-46 offers more than 30 AP courses for our students to take. Students in AP courses receive rigorous academic instruction. Students take the end of course AP exam in May and when they earn a 3, 4, or 5 on this exam, they will receive college credit.


CTE courses are available in culinary, engineering, business, accounting, manufacturing, automotive, welding, and education/child development. Students can take one course in many areas to find what they like or they can take a series of three courses to potentially earn an industry certificate.


Learn more about our different college and career courses in our U-46 Curriculum Guide, Dual Credit Guide, and the AP connecting majors and careers websites.