U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter

Information and Resources for Everyone to Use and Share

May 10, 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 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

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

In just a few short weeks the school year will come to a close. For some, the school year went by fast, and yet for others, not fast enough. I, for one, feel as though the school year went by incredibly fast; however, I acknowledge that I am also not in the classroom nor leading a school like so many of you reading this month's newsletter. Consequently, I want to thank you for staying with us through this year; it wasn't easy, but you persevered. Before I bid you farewell for the summer, I want to take a moment to remind you of two things. First, a few of you have inquired about the NIU Social Justice Summer Camp. On behalf of the Equity and Innovation Department, we are pleased to sponsor your attendance financially. If you are interested in attending, please click and read here for more details and please note, the deadline to sign up is Friday, May 18th.


Secondly, as you may or may not know, many of our colleagues attended last year's symposium and gave us feedback that the planning team sought to address. For example, rather than have our 2nd Annual Equity Symposium at the end of the school year, we will kick off the 22-23 school year on the heels of a robust and equity-packed five-day symposium. Here is a sneak peek of this year's keynote speakers.



  • Monday, August 8th-Dr. Gholdy Muhammad
  • Tuesday, August 9th-Dr. Chris Emdin
  • Wednesday, August 10th-Coffee and Conversation with various speakers, including Drs. Beverly Daniel Tatum, James Banks, and Christine Sleeter.
  • Thursday, August 11th-Dr. Pedro Noguera
  • Friday, August 12th-Dr. Bettina L. Love


Our Equity Symposium webpage and registration link will go live between May 20th and 23rd.


Additionally, although we were unable to produce this newsletter every month this school year, we plan to continue sharing resources and information every month during the new school year. 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.


Finally, on behalf of our entire department, thank you! We know this year had its challenges; we hope, however, that you also found plenty of reasons to smile.


Have a wonderful summer!


Yours in Service,

Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D

Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Innovation

Equity Symposium-We Need You!

Our 2nd Annual Equity Symposium, being held virtually, is looking for U-46 presenters to share their expertise and knowledge. Specifically, our 2nd Annual Equity Symposium requests that our presenters ground their presentation in one or more of the following themes: critical love, equity pedagogy, and social justice. The symposium is scheduled for Aug. 8 through Aug. 12. Breakout session presentations should include participation interactions that allow for an engaging session. If this is you and you are interested in presenting, please let us know by completing the Equity Symposium Presenter Interest Form here. Note that compensation and a CPDU will be offered to presenters as part of this professional development opportunity.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Explore this site for a collection of lessons/resources for K-12 social studies, literature, and arts classrooms that center around the experiences, achievements, and perspectives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across U.S. history.

The Research on Life-Changing Teaching

"Being an effective teacher is about more than just improving test scores—it’s also about making a difference in students’ lives." Read this article to find out what the researchers say.

The Color of Discipline (Article)

"...there appeared to be a differential pattern of treatment, originating at the classroom level, wherein African-American students are referred to the office for infractions that are more subjective in interpretation."

U-46 Referral Data

Now, that you've read the research article entitled, The Color of Discipline: Sources of Racial and Gender Disproportionality in School Punishment, how do we fare? The blue bar represents enrollment percentages and the orange bar indicates office referral percentages as of April 30, 2022.
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Tools to Better Understand our Students (Street Data)

"Street Data encourages teachers to gather data in a way that is “humanizing, liberatory and healing.” Schools typically collect data – such as test scores, attendance or disciplinary rates – to identify deficits and pain points..."

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Elevating Student Voice

Educators looking to increase the impact of student voice in their schools and districts can start by simply gathering diverse groups of students and asking them questions.

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, May 19th, 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)

As the 2021-22 school year comes to a close soon, we thought it would be helpful to share how a school’s AVID system - not just the AVID program (elective class) – can support our district’s work with U46 Rising. As both systems are designed to raise the bar of student learning, AVID has identified indicators of a school’s success in this process through a self-evaluation document called the CCI, or Coaching and Certification Instrument.


The CCI is divided into four domain areas for school performance: Instruction, Leadership, Systems, and Culture. The domain of Instruction has 15 indicators that work very closely with many tenets of the U46 Rising work. These indicators are evaluated on a school’s implementation with a five-level scale:

1. Does not meet AVID standards,

2. AVID elective students only,

3. AVID elective and AVID Site Team members classes

4. AVID elective and AVID Site Team members classes and Core classes

5. All students in the school


The 15 Instruction Domain indicators rated according to the above scale are listed below with the description of the level 5 performance. Each school and teacher should ask the level 5 question: Are all students in the school … (insert text for each indicator):

1. Learning through Writing - routinely spend time processing content through writing (e.g., interactive notebooks, learning logs, quickwrites, annotation, etc.) in all courses.

2. The Writing process - routinely spend time writing to clarify and organize experiences (e.g., pre-writing, drafting, revising, polishing or editing, and publishing) in all courses.

3. Focused Notetaking - routinely use focused notetaking strategies such as Cornell notes, consistently use higher-level questions in their notes, and demonstrate critical thinking skills in all courses.

4. Higher-level Thinking - routinely ask higher-level questions using Costa’s, Webb’s or Marzano’s Levels of Thinking during tutorials, Collaborative Study Groups, class discussions, and problem-solving activities in all courses.

5. Structures for Inquiry - routinely use structures for inquiry such as Socratic Seminars and Philosophical Chairs in all courses.

6. Access Digital Information - demonstrating skills in accessing digital information from multiple sources and evaluate that information critically and competently in all courses.

7. Technology as a Collaboration Tool - using information, communication, and technology (ICT) resources as a tool for collaboration both synchronously (e.g., texting, social media, video conferencing, and cloud-based productivity tools) and asynchronously (e.g., forums and blogs) in all courses.

8. Structures for Collaboration - routinely use structures for collaboration (e.g., Helping Trios, Jigsaw, Four Corners, Collaborative Group Roles, etc.) in all courses.

9. Tutorials and Collaborative Study Groups - participating in Tutorials, Scholar Groups and/or Collaborative Study Groups in all courses. Tutorials are required 2x/week for AVID Elective students.

10. Leadership Skills - demonstrating leadership skills in all courses, and in activities on campus and in the community.

11. Organizational Methods (Goal Setting) - reviewing their goals and consistently monitoring their grades to ensure they are college and career ready

12. AVID Binder/E-Binder - routinely use AVID organizational tools (e.g., AVID binder or E-Binder, portfolios, graphic organizers, and planning calendars) to keep track of coursework and to organize their thinking and learning in all courses. Required for AVID Elective students.

13. Arrive Prepared with Course Materials - arriving prepared with course materials, identify points of confusion, and seek clarity from instructors and peers as they take responsibility for their learning in all courses.

14. Critical Reading Process - routinely use the critical reading process to access increasingly more rigorous texts in all courses.

15. WICOR Strategies - At least 70% of teachers throughout the school routinely use WICOR strategies in all courses. WICOR = Writing to Learn, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading to Learn)



If a school or teacher can honestly indicate that the majority of these indicators are at the 5th level described above, then we would see students performing at very high levels. As we develop the U46 Rising system, please keep these indicators in mind as they mirror most, if not all, instructional expectations. The AVID elective is already in all of the middle and high schools, but the more we move to make AVID systematic in each school, the more we will see student success and promote the work of U46 rising. Finally, you can see some of the alignment between AVID and U46 Rising straight from our AVID teachers by clicking here.


Finally, please let the Office of Equity and Innovation know if you have any questions about AVID and its implementation in U46.

Brothers Rise Up (BRU) Community Service Project

Brothers Rise Up (BRU) is honoring the wishes of an American hero this month. Retired Tuskegee Airman, Sergeant Victor Butler, is turning 100 years young on May 21. He has earned and acquired many awards and medals for his service to our country as a distinguished "Red Tails''; however, this year he would like to receive birthday cards to mark the century of life he has lived. The young men of BRU are being supported by staff throughout the District in creating birthday cards, poems, video/social media messages, and other creative communications to send to Sgt. Butler.


You are more than welcome to join them in their community service project. Use this link to read more about Sgt. Butler and to learn where to send your birthday wishes.

Educational Pathways

Educational Pathways: Student Spotlight


In response to one of our Equity and Innovations Newsletters, Sue Bukantis reached out to us and shared an inspiring story of her son’s experience in U-46. Sue is an Early Childhood teacher at the Independence Center for Early learning, and her son JP attended South Elgin High School. In the following interview you will learn how JP’s hard work combined with dedicated instructors, cutting edge programs, and supportive community businesses have come together to create a bright future for this young man. This is exactly the type of outcome that Educational Pathways are designed to help systematize for our students.


Please take a moment to read the Interview with JP Bukantis.


Tell us about yourself:

I attended South Elgin high school and graduated in 2018. I will be graduating from Iowa State University this spring with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Design Studies. I love tinkering with things, whether it's the little 3D printer we have, cars, or anything else around the house.


Which experiences in your life led you to pursue engineering?

My dad has always had me as an assistant. Whether it’s out in the garage maintaining the cars or fixing things around the house, I’ve been out there helping him. I think that sparked my curiosity for how things are made, what they do, and how they work. In middle school as part of the “rotations” class at Kenyon Woods, one quarter was a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) course. It was short but that exposed me to 3D modeling software and robotics and I loved it. That led me to take PLTW courses every year at SEHS and assured my interest in engineering.


Which courses did you take that related to your career goals?

I took 5 different PLTW courses during high school and all are very applicable. The Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) course gave me a lot of exposure to 3D modeling. I learned how to code in Principles of Engineering (PoE), and learned how to use code to control robotics. Digital Electronics (DE) helped me learn logic and exposed me to electrical components. Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) was by far the most hands-on course, with opportunities to actually code and use CNC machines (something I never even did in college!). Finally Engineering Development and Design (EDD) is a year long project based course where groups go through the entire design process and create a prototype to solve an issue. This course is very reminiscent of the two “capstone design” project based courses I took within my degree. All of these courses were, at the very least, a taste of a college course I took. I definitely felt ahead of the game coming into college with all of these experiences, especially early on.


Can you tell us about a memorable experience in high school that helped you decide on a career path?

One definitive moment was when taking the CIM course. We got to design a small container and make whatever intricate design we wanted on the lid. Then we made the code for the CNC saber saw to cut out our containers. Since myself and a few others were a bit ahead, we got to help others with their 3D models and help the teacher run the machine as well. I had a great time designing and making that, I still have it on my desk at home! Moments like that showed that I wanted to design things but wanted the hands-on experiences too, and that led me to engineering.


Who in your life supported you on your path? What supports did you find the most helpful?

My parents and sister have always been there for me, supporting me throughout my entire life. Going to school five hours from home can feel lonely at times, but my family has always been a strong support regardless of the distance. I will say that during high school I had a lot of teachers who pushed me to do my best and set me up for success later down the road. To name a few: Mrs.Wilkinson taught me to write amazing papers and helped me proofread my college application essays; Mr. Zitnik helped me build a strong foundation of physics knowledge which helped immensely in my degree. Mrs. Saxton and Mrs. Ozog were great math teachers who helped me earn valuable AP credit. Finally, Mr. Peacock and Mr. Bartz were always there to talk about anything engineering related and led the PLTW classes fantastically, allowing me to learn a lot. Those great teachers, along with many more, set me up for success and I’m very thankful for being taught by them.


If a student wanted to follow a similar path to you, what advice would you give them?

If you want to go into engineering, or even any technical degrees- take PLTW courses. Take them, take them, take them. As I mentioned before the teachers are great and if you put in effort and show some drive, you can gain so much out of it. Even if you just take the intro course and learn the basics of 3D modeling it will give you a big leg ahead of others. Another thing that can be great down the line is to take AP courses and try your hardest to earn some college credits. Even just earning one AP credit is great! That means one semester where you can take one less course, which can lighten your stress levels greatly. You will thank yourself later.


What are your current professional goals?

During college the goal was always to graduate with a full time position, and I am glad to say I have achieved that. I had two internships during my time at Iowa State and that helped me broaden my horizons and get a taste of what engineering actually is like in the field. I will be working at Elgin Sweeper as a Design Engineer updating current street sweepers and helping the ongoing innovation in the market. I really enjoyed my time there during my internship and am excited to be welcomed back. I am looking forward to finally getting my hands dirty and working!


Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I really am thankful for the opportunities that my PLTW instructors gave me. I want to clarify that by no means am I saying that if you take these courses in high school you are already an engineer, or on the track to be. Rather, the opportunity to gain valuable experience is there if a student puts in the effort and tries to seize it. Granted, that can be a blanket statement for everything in high school! I am grateful that South Elgin gave me a space to help see my hard work become fruitful, and I hope they continue to provide that space for many other students to come.

First Impression: American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting

Have you heard of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)? At the 2022 annual meeting, educators, researchers, and those in the business of education came together around the theme “Cultivating Equitable Education Systems for the 21st Century.”


As a first time attendee and avid learner I was overwhelmed with the options and information. I tended to stick to the Presidential Sessions, where speakers were invited to present their research or topics focused on equitable education systems. Besides the 40 Presidential Sessions, there were numerous virtual sessions, pre-recorded sessions, small sessions, and table discussions offered. I selected sessions that I could learn from, connect to, and could geek out. How many others can say they sat 6 rows away from James Banks, Tyrone Howard, and Pedro Noguera?


Some first impressions of the experience:

  • AERA is not a typical teacher conference. There were no sessions telling how to teach or use resources.

  • Wow! There is an immense amount of research about equitable education systems.

  • Our current model of schooling is not equitable as was shown repeatedly.

  • A lot of affirming research, with slow change.

  • Funding is currently not a barrier in education, human capital is.

  • All students desire to be heard, seen, recognized, held to high expectations, and accountable.

  • Long held beliefs, like college admission standards, are changing. There needs to be more connection and collaboration between systems.

  • Student voice and cultural integration are essential in schools, if all students are to succeed.

  • There is a dominant culture that shapes the American education system and leaves students at the margins.

  • Inspiring sessions included ideas like, “What if marginalized students occupied the table and were the dominant voice? What might be different?”

  • There are few Pre K - 12 Educators in attendance.


AERA was a different education conference. I learned from listening to researchers and panelists how data is collected, analyzed, and explained in an effort to continually improve our educational system. Educators, we need to continue to learn and use what we know from research to change our system.


If you’d like to make your own first impression of AERA you can visit their website at https://www.aera.net/About-AERA. The 2023 AERA Annual Meeting is scheduled to be in Chicago. Maybe we can bring a larger Pre K - 12 presence!

L.E.A.D (U-46 Girls' Mentoring Program)

I AM Living Elegantly, Ambitiously and Dauntless (LEAD) has been promoting healthy living through Zoom events on Saturday mornings. On January 15th, L.E.A.D kicked the series off with Healthy Relationships, presented by Mrs. Keisha Richards. The focus was on ensuring open and honest communication, and developing and identifying trusting relationships. Ms. Richards highlighted that it is vital to nurture and prioritize the relationship we have with ourselves.


In February, students viewed and discussed the Project 2-3-1 documentary, written and narrated by local historian, Mr. Ernie Broadnax. This provided a space to learn about how Elgin was key to the development of the Northwest Suburbs and how Black people were treated. It was also a lesson on the growth, prominence, and opportunities we have today that allow for impactful engagement and leadership roles in education, politics, religion, and various businesses.


March brought two guest speakers. Dr. Da’Vida Anderson presented on Staying Healthy Mentally, and how we might address and manage the stresses in life that tend to weigh us down. Dr. Anderson was very engaging and energetic and kept the information relevant to our young ladies. They also gathered Healthy Hair tips from Mrs. Keighty McNamara, a local hairstylist, who provided information for maintaining a healthy mane, which included guidance on cleansing, conditioning, styling, coloring, and cutting hair. Additionally, she reminded the group of the importance of hydration, diet, and ongoing care.


Staying Safe happens this month and is the last session in the series. Chicago Police Department’s Officer Tiffany Hubbard will lead this discussion. As we approach the summer season, where people will be out gathering for outdoor activities, attending theme parks, and traveling on family vacations, students will learn skills on how to be vigilant and prepared in order to remain as safe as possible.


These Zoom sessions have reached more than 25 of young ladies who represent four elementary schools: Harriet Gifford, Heritage, Otter Creek, and Ronald D. O’Neal; and middle schools: Abbott, Eastview, Ellis, Kenyon Woods, Kimball and Larsen. We thank each of them, their parents, and their families for Zooming in with us to help them Live Healthy.

L.E.A.D (Volunteering Event)

Food. Fun. Family. Fellowship. Helping others. That is what Feed My Starving Children is all about, and the young ladies of I AM Living Elegantly, Ambitiously, and Dauntlessly (LEAD) volunteered to prepare and pack food to feed others who may not have access to nutritious food in another country. On April 30th, over 30 students, families, and friends of LE.A.D joined together to pack 60 boxes of food, which equates to close to 13,000 meals.


This was certainly a lesson that giving back and volunteering is not only helpful to others but is beneficial to oneself; when you spread goodness, goodness dwells in you. Making a difference makes a difference.

Post Secondary Success Updates

May 1st was decision day for our seniors who are attending two and four-year colleges. After all of their preparations, our seniors made their final decisions and uploaded their post-secondary plans into our Naviance system. Our high schools celebrated their decisions to attend colleges, trade schools, military, or join the workforce.


Our counselors are continuing to work with our senior students who have not decided on their post-secondary plans yet. Activities for our undecided students included attending the Educational Pathways department CTE senior job fair at EHS and SEHS, field trips, and other experiences to learn more about our area workforce opportunities.


Middle School counselors attended a Magnet Academy Tour on May 5th. The counselors traveled to our five comprehensive high schools to meet with the Assistant Principals of Innovation and STEM to learn more about each of the magnet academies and their facilities. Our magnet academy students led the tours of their magnet facilities discussing the magnet courses and projects.