U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter
Information & Resources to Use and Share 11.9.22
From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
Last month the Illinois State Board of Education released the district and school report card data. Every school received one of four designations: Exemplary, Commendable, Targeted, or Comprehensive based on multiple measures of school performance. This year, which is different than all others, U-46 had an opportunity to tell our story-an equity journey continuum narrative. Because we know that numbers do not demonstrate all that teachers, school leaders, nurses, itinerant staff, para-professionals, bus drivers, food and nutrition service staff, and so many more do on a daily basis, we hope to illuminate the strengths of our collective efforts while not shying away from the opportunities for improvement. You can find our equity journey continuum narrative here, but please note we were limited to 4,000 characters, so even this narrative does not paint a complete picture.
Also, last month, some schools celebrated fall festival also referred to as Halloween. I would like to share an article that was provided to me just recently. Although the fall festival (Halloween) has passed, please take time to consider the text of this article, titled, "My culture is not a costume".
Finally, I was able to attend my first in-person Explore event and was invigorated by the gifts and talents of so many of our students. Although I was not able to capture all of our students in action, I did capture a few in action. I hope you find the time to "attend" Explore by watching the clips below. May you be equally as invigorated.
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
Who are our U-46 Equity Ambassadors?
You may see this Equity Ambassador walking the halls at Clinton Elementary School, enjoying a sporting event, bundling up to welcome students into school in the morning or sending students off as they end a school day. Meet Jeron Shelton, Resident Administrator at Clinton Elementary School.
Jeron Shelton explains educational equity as making sure that all students have the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills expected of them in life regardless of who they are, where they come from, or where they learn. This means educators, families, and community members have to partner and engage in some extremely challenging work around what’s working in schools and how we can promote sustained improvement.
As a black, male educator, Shelton always brings a diverse lens to the work he does. Honestly, Shelton, states he is still learning what it means to be an equity ambassador. Right now he works to provide a welcoming environment for all families, supports teacher development through conversation, and seeks out opportunities to support achievement for all students. Seeking out opportunities to disrupt systemic oppression of marginalized groups is something Shelton is learning he needs to continue doing. He works at being an equity ambassador by moving past cliche terminology and making a positive difference in the lives of those with whom he serves and works with.
During Shelton’s sixteen years in the U-46, he has worked in a variety of roles including teacher, basketball coach, chess coach, peer consultant teacher, teacher leader, and administrator. Sheila Shelton, Jeron’s wife, is a fourth grade dual-language teacher at Washington Elementary School. Sheila and Jeron met at Channing Elementary in 2006, and their family has grown to include a son, Michael, who is in second grade, and a two year old puppy named Ginger.
I have had the pleasure of working with Jeron Shelton for several years. He is inquisitive in nature, an optimist, a leader, and passionate about making the world a better place for all.
Connect with Shelton on Twitter @KAMYLINCEO. Do you know an Equity Ambassador? Tell me about them @doroberts30 or email@example.com
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.
U-46 Equity Plan
CTE Spotlight: U-46 Internship Program
Career and Technical Education is excited to announce the expansion of the Internship program at U-46. Last summer, we offered short term Internships for U-46 students at businesses across the district. Students were able to intern at Engineering, Manufacturing, Financial/Business, and Automotive firms. Students were matched with a mentor at each place of business and learned about careers offered, skills needed and executive functioning skills necessary to be successful. Students were given opportunities to display their learning, supported daily tasks and completed projects. Many students reported that one of the most valuable aspects was being able to assess what they are interested in and determine if it aligned with the career they explored. The teacher who led the program, Marissa Hueck, had this to say about her experience.
“ As an educator, this was a thrilling opportunity. I was able to see the students use what they had learned in the classroom in hundreds of ways. They were able to showcase their talents and also learn about the world of work. On the first day so many of them were intimidated and nervous about going to work with adults. They had been practicing their workplace readiness skills and now this was their first time to use it in real situations. I was able to visit them at their workplaces and connect with their mentors. Some of the mentors were a little nervous too, so I was able to make sure that everyone had a positive experience. Students were also reflective about what the experience taught them. Many felt that this experience cemented that the career pathway they were on was the right one for them. For others, it exposed them to career paths within a field they enjoyed, but never knew existed. There were also students who realized that what they thought they would do on a daily basis in their chosen career path was not accurate. They had to consider what to do with this new information and how it would impact their future choices. Every student said they would do this again and our Internship sites loved the energy that the students brought into the workplace. Mentors remarked that they were impressed by how smart and talented our students were.”
The Career and Technical Education Department has decided to expand our Internship program and continue to offer a summer internship as well as offer an Internship course during the school year. During the summer program students can choose either a three week or six week option that will operate during the same weeks as summer school. Students would work a typical business day and sign up for the summer internship as part of the summer school offering. For the school year Internship, students can register for the course when they register for classes. During the semester, students will attend class and learn about workplace readiness skills such as applying for a job, career exploration and reflection of Internship experiences. Students will also participate in an Internship experience throughout the semester for a minimum of four hours a week. The Internship teacher will meet and discuss with the student their interests and career goals and then place them in a unique Internship experience created just for them. If students have availability in their schedule, they can qualify for early release so that they can go to the Internship site, but they can also complete their Internship after school hours.
This flexible, individually curated Internship will allow students to explore areas of interest, support determining their career pathway and allow them to apply workplace skills in a hands-on environment. It also allows them to begin establishing career contacts, mentors and skills that they can use as they enter their next life stage. Any student looking to explore their future interests can take advantage of the Internship program and experience the benefits.
Educational Pathways Update: Explore and Equity
On October 6th, nearly 2500 8th grade students participated in the 2022 Explore event. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, Explore is designed to help students learn about careers and the programs U-46 offers related to these careers.
The importance of events like Explore and other work based learning activities is that students often only know about careers that people in their families are familiar with, or those frequently seen in the media. Therefore, Explore is used to highlight high wage/high demand occupations available in our communities. Explore showcase careers that students may have never considered or are even aware of. Through Educational Pathways and Magnet Academies, students can continue to explore career options through meaningful courses that enrich their knowledge of various industries.
Throughout their high school career, students will also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers about their careers and participate in learning excursions to various local businesses. As a capstone experience, U-46 is continuing to increase internship opportunities. These internships allow students to be immersed in a career field their junior year so they can gain a powerful perspective before committing to a post-secondary plan. Look for more information on this in the next couple of months.
Work based learning, including Explore, is fundamental to equity in education because it provides all students the information they need to start exploring careers and engaging in programs that prepare them for their post-secondary paths. The combination of career exploration, rigorous instruction, and work based learning are key educational opportunities that all students must have to become competitive participants in our future workforce.
Post Secondary Success Spotlight-Dream Academy
Dream Academy has been working hard to prepare their students for success after graduation! This building-wide work is being led by their post-secondary success team, which consists of counselors, teachers, and social workers. The team creates weekly post-secondary lessons that the students complete on Thursdays during their SAIL class, which is a half hour a day dedicated to social/emotional learning, community building, and post-secondary success. Some of the topics covered in these lessons are interviewing skills, resume writing, completing financial aid forms (FAFSA), Naviance activities, career exploration, and lessons on credit/budgeting.
In one SAIL lesson, students were surveyed about which professionals they would like to talk to, in person, about a career in that particular field. Using this student voice survey as a guide, DREAM held its 2nd annual DREAM Academy Career Fair on November 2nd. The presenters covered a wide array of professions and opportunities: music production, tattooing, Elgin Community College programs, union apprenticeship programs, realty, the U.S. Military, cosmetology, CNA and EMT programs, local police and fire departments, veterinary tech, and U-46 human resources. The presenters did an excellent job exposing the students and staff to a realistic picture of the workplace and the schooling/training required for each profession. They shared stories of their career journeys and discussed obstacles they overcame to get where they are today. They helped students understand the essential connection between their education and their future careers. The success of the day was demonstrated in the number of students who engaged with great questions and even set up appointments to further explore these programs outside of school. The students and staff at DREAM Academy can't wait for their 3rd annual fair next year!
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