U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter
Equity Related Info. & Resources to Use and Share 2.8.23
From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
Dear U-46 Staff,
We are eight days into Black History Month and it's exciting to walk schools and see on social media platforms the number of schools celebrating the contributions and history of Black Americans during this month. We also know the accounts of Black History should not be relegated to one month, but embedded throughout the entirety of a school year. To see what our schools are doing across the district, take a look here; this school events spreadsheet is updated daily. Thank you, Ms. Karla Jimenez, for compiling this information.
Also, at the start of Black History Month, College Board shared its framework for its first-ever AP African American Studies Course. Since the release of the framework, there are news outlets reporting the purging of some authors and critical historical accounts as a result of the pushback from Florida State's Board of Education and Florida's Governor. I am pleased to report that in U-46, we launched our own African American Studies course this 22-23 school year. Under the guidance of our own Jacob Vandemoortel. and consultant, Dr. Kim Gallon, several staff members named below were engulfed in writing our African American Studies Course. Within our African American Studies course, we offer five units titled: Identity, Effects of Racism/White Supremacy, Social Change, Contributions/Innovations, and lastly, Cultural Expression. If you would like to know more about our course offering, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Vandemoortel, Lisa Jackson, or any of the teachers listed below.
Our course is currently taught in three of our high schools: Larkin, South Elgin, and Streamwood High School and we hope to see all of our schools offer African American Studies for the 23-24 school year and beyond
Our Curriculum Writing team:
- Megan Allen, SS teacher at LHS
- Christyn Brown, ELA teacher at EHS/DREAM
- Kendra Dicker, ELA teacher at SEHS
- Dr. Kim Gallon, Professor/Consultant from Brown University
- Ana Hasan, SS teacher at BHS
- Lisa Jackson, Director of Equity and Inclusion
- Heather Misner, Bilingual SS teacher at EHS
- Georgie Towa, Bilingual Sp.Ed. teacher at Tefft MS
- Jacob VandeMoortel, Coordinator of K-12 SS and World Languages
- Nick Vassolo, SS teacher at SHS
Last month, we shared a Thought Exchange with staff across our entire school district seeking feedback on ways to increase our students' sense of belonging. Specifically, we wrote, 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..." The results of that Thought Exchange can be found here. My colleagues and I plan to unpack the results to both review your comments and consider actionable items.
On a separate note, I was able to accompany Streamwood's teacher, Ms. Jackie Gordon and students from the DECA club for the very first time. DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an association of marketing students that encourages the development of business and leadership skills through academic conferences and competitions. I was able to serve as a judge for this event and I was in for a treat! Our students and all the students who were present did an amazing job showing off their business acumen. Kudos to all the teachers who have a hand in preparing our students for the DECA conference; our students did not disappoint! Check out a few of the pictures from the conference.
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
African American Advisory Council Meeting
Thu, Feb 9, 2023, 06:00 PM
Black History Month is Here!
Ms. Tamiko Nettles-Harris, one of our many equity symposium speakers, shared the following event with me and Lisa Jackson. As a result, we are sharing it with you in the hopes that some of you may be able to attend.
"Each year, I have shared Black History Quotes from HEroes & SHEroes in our community. Starting Wednesday, February 1, new quotes will be released and the 2nd Annual 4 Week Virtual Black History Journal Challenge begins! So many of the historians featured in it are sharing their quotes of taking their first steps in their industries boldly and would love for you to hear them, reflect on their quotes, network with other attendees, and create your own history making moment too! All are welcome to attend--even students, classrooms, teams and family!!! Check out this video with an overview of WHY it started, spread the word, and register here!"
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. You can hover your cursor over the image below for more details.
Gail Borden will be sharing these tools and books all year long, and hope you’ll join us in doing the same.
You Matter in U-46
Last year, during an affinity group meeting, one of our members made a statement. She expressed the desire to have a pin or something she could display to let students know she will provide a safe space for them when they need someone to discuss how they are feeling, a situation, or need a trusted adult. Her idea stuck and the You Matter pin was born. Equity Ambassadors throughout U-46 are given a pin to wear as a symbol for consistently contributing to ensuring equity and belongingness for all.
The person behind this idea is Stephanie Katzenberger, a Physical Education teacher at South Elgin High School. Katzenberger believes educational equity provides all students what they need to achieve, which varies from student to student. The traditional idea of 'equal opportunity' in education does not recognize and adjust to the gaps and barriers that our students face, whether it be poverty, language, homelessness, etc. The quality of education a student receives should not depend on where they live, how much money their parents make, or the language they speak. Educational equity is flexible and fluid and meets students where they are at. An equitable classroom does not provide the same support, resources, and opportunities for all students, but provides all students the support, resources, and opportunities they need to be successful.
Stephanie started her journey towards becoming an Equity Ambassador through a lot of reading, discussion, and self-reflection. In order to create an inclusive learning environment that is built on trust, safety, and student voice, she says, “I had to take some time to reflect on myself - my background, my experiences, my privilege, my mindset, my biases, etc. I had to better identify all of the barriers students face, and the factors that cause and/or impact those barriers, before I could start focusing on, and improving, equity in my classroom.” She has participated in our district's Equity Symposium, affinity groups, and book club which has also had a big impact on her growth as an educator and equity ambassador.
In the classroom, she tries to accommodate the learning needs of all students with the use of universal design, student-centered instructional strategies, variety in assessment, and high expectations. Katzenberger has been working on promoting recognition and respect for diversity by creating Canvas pages about ethnic and racial groups, representing Black History, Women's History, Arab American Heritage, Asian Pacific American Heritage, and Hispanic Heritage. The Canvas pages include information on the roles various people have played in Health & Wellness. The achievements inspire workouts and challenges. She also includes information about films, books, and events that celebrate the contributions, talents, and resilience of each community.
After 28 years in Illinois, Stephanie still considers herself a 'commuter' from her home state of Michigan where most of her family still resides. She spends most holidays and breaks back home. She has (fr)amily in Illinois as well, so she prioritizes quality time with loved ones, time well spent. Katzenberger says, “I love my students - they keep me young, they keep me honest, and they keep me growing and learning. I only hope that I can have the same supportive and inspirational impact on them as they have on me.”
U-46 Equity Ambassador
Multilingual and Multicultural Education Leader
In U-46, we have schools and departments filled with intelligent, passionate educators. One of these educational leaders is Griselda Pirtle, the Director of Multilingual and Multicultural Education. Ms. Pirtle heads a department that endlessly works to ensure our students have enriching, equitable opportunities and experiences.
Griselda believes educational equity means ALL students receive educational experiences that are highly engaging, rigorous, and explicitly incorporate culturally and linguistically responsive practices. ALL means ALL! She promotes equity through her leadership and participation throughout the district. The work in her department is grounded in equity. The department’s specific focus is ensuring culturally and linguistically responsiveness is explicitly embedded in all the work that impacts the educational experiences of our U-46 multilingual learners. Griselda is also a proud member of the District Equity Committee.
Pirtle brings personal and professional experiences that fuel her desire and passion to work towards educational equity. She considers herself a life-long learner in this area. Griselda Pirtle is an Equity Ambassador you should get to know!
Connect with Griselda through Twitter @PirtleGriselda or @U46MMEDept, catch her at an Equity Committee meeting, during professional development sessions, or while she’s in your building ensuring ALL means ALL!
Do you know an Equity Ambassador? Tell me about them @doroberts30 or email@example.com
Our Students Want to Be Heard: Fish Bowl Structures For Teaming and Amplifying Student Voice In Your Classroom (Guest Contribution from Sarah Said, teacher at Dream Academy)
We all know that more student talk versus more teacher talk in instruction allows students to have academic conversations that develop academic language skills, social emotional skills and gives kids a sense of empowerment in their learning.
The students in our classrooms want to be heard and allowing them that space is a way to keep them engaged and give them a sense of security and belonging in the environment. Academic teaming is a way that our district promotes this sense of community in the classroom while providing rigorous instruction that meets students where they are at instructionally and drives them further.
One way that students can feel heard in a classroom is through a fishbowl structure. Fishbowl structures are a way of providing a structured Socratic seminar that gives students ability to question content and reading and also allow them to utilize their knowledge to think about real world problems as extensions of their learning.
The teacher poses a high engagement question that relates to student learning or reading. Students spend time prior to the discussion preparing for the conversation in Academic teams using scaffolds a teacher provides- i.e. pre-prepared questions, graphic organizers. Then, in their teams students will decide who will go in the “fishbowl” first the next day. Teacher will then pose a question that day to the small group in the inner circle. On the outer circle, students will have a tracker where they will track their peers on their teams and give them feedback on their discussion skills. Students can use their notes to respond to peers and ask their own questions within “the bowl”.
Peers will tag their team members in and out of the bowl until the discussion is over. Post discussion peers will give their teammates feedback on how the discussion went and work with the teacher to provide ideas for future discussions related to the classroom learning.
For students who may struggle with stress and anxiety from being in the bowl, they can pose questions on a google doc that they share with their peers who go in the circle and be the “team scribe.” They can even assist the teacher with being a whole class scribe as well. This can also be done for students who were absent for preparation. This keeps the entire class engaged and everyone gets a chance to participate at their own pace and level of comfort.
Our students want to be heard, and this is a great way for students to give voice on what is happening in their classroom and in the world.
The teacher can even keep a best-lines wall too and students can appreciate their words on the classroom wall.
Parkwood Elementary History Buffs
At Parkwood Elementary, a group of history buffs hopped aboard a mobile museum and stepped into the past. The students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades spent two days immersed in workshops designed to strengthen their abilities to make positive changes in their classrooms, school, community, and the world. The Anne Frank Story was presented to them on the first day of the exhibit. They viewed a short film about her story and engaged in a discussion about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and resistance. On the second day, the Civil Rights workshop captivated the students through a challenge for nonviolent protest, to pack the concept of separate but equal, and to gain a deeper understanding of how past sacrifices influence their current existence. I asked a few of them to share how this experience impacted them. As I listened to their reflection on the past, I felt so good about the future we all will have with them. You can read some of the students' comments below.
Ziera, 5th Grade - “I think the best part was seeing people standing up for themselves and for other people.”
Demetrius, 5th Grade - “I am glad that because of what they did back then, we can be in class with all different races.”
Sylvana, 5th Grade - “I learned that we should not be afraid of what we are doing and to persevere for what is right.”
Jeremiah, 5th Grade - “It was amazing. We were asked deep questions about where we could relate our lives to the video. We were able to discuss how we felt about the video with our friends. I liked that.”
The Anne Frank Story
Opal, 6th Grade - “It was really emotional for me. I was happy, then sad, and then happy for her. I liked that she had hope in her life.”
Kaitlyn, 6th Grade - “This story has a place in my heart that no other story could fulfill. It touched me because it was sad that people could kill off other people’s family members. It also touched me by giving me hope because they thought they were going to get out, but there was a big plot twist in the end.”
Kerryanna, 6th Grade - “I was so happy to learn about Anne Frank. I was so excited that when I got home I started to look up more information about her on YouTube. I found a one hour video that I watched and learned a lot more.”
Chloe, 6th Grade - “It really nice to learn from her because she was so close to our age when she went into hiding. I like history because I like learning about the past and about people. It was emotional, inspiring, and exciting to learn.”
Essential Technology (Guest Contribution from James Lynch, Ellis MS Teacher)
In Essential Technology, learning Photoshop or Premiere Pro won’t just help you become a better creative—it’ll also look fantastic on your resume when you’re applying for jobs.
What is 3D printing? Additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, is the process of producing 3-dimensional objects from a computer file, where the part is built by adding material layer-by-layer.
Today, more companies in a variety of industries are embracing the 3D printing process as it presents many significant advantages over the more traditional manufacturing methods. Essential Technology offers the opportunity to learn these skills!
If we want to set our children up for academic success, every child should learn to think computationally and code. Coding for kids not only helps improve their mathematics and writing skills but also gives them valuable skills in life and eventually in the workforce.
From problem-solving skills, job opportunities, critical thinking, and creativity, there are so many reasons to learn how to code. Essential Technology is the perfect opportunity to learn coding skills.
Why is programming a machine so important?
Just as spoken communication is vital to running an effective human team, programming is vital to running an effective robot application. Essential Technology brings machine learning to middle school classrooms. Join us in the Middle School Elective that is exactly what you're looking for!
Addressing Access and Awareness of Manufacturing Careers with the STAMP Grant
You may be surprised to hear that manufacturing is the largest industry in Illinois when measured by contribution to gross domestic product. The total economic impact of this industry to the state is close to $600 billion dollars. Yes, billion. Like many industries, manufacturing in Illinois is struggling to find skilled workers ready to take the place of large numbers of retirees and workers who are comfortable with the technical computer-based industry that manufacturing has largely become. This issue is compounded by a lack of diversity within the industry. Specifically, females and people of color are underrepresented (BLS Link).
Since there are many scalable careers available in manufacturing and many lead to a living or high wage career, EdSystems of NIU partnered with the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) to develop a grant to promote these careers. The Scaling Transformative Advanced Manufacturing Pathways (STAMP) Grant seeks to:
Increase secondary enrollment in manufacturing pathways, particularly by underrepresented students.
Increase dual credit offerings and enrollment in manufacturing pathways.
Increase the number of students who complete a manufacturing pathway, earning a College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) and industry credentials.
Increase matriculation into postsecondary manufacturing programs and the workforce.
Through our regional Education for Employment office U-46 is participating in this grant. School District U-46 has a long-standing manufacturing program. Precision Manufacturing is taught by Mat Erbach and Welding is taught by Aaron Styles and Luis Guerrero De Jesus. Both of these programs are implementing elements that align with the STAMP Grant including developing dual credit courses and advising students on how to take the correct steps after high school toward a lucrative career.
Learning more about underrepresentation in manufacturing programs is the first step towards addressing it. As prescribed by the grant we will soon be conducting empathy interviews in order to gather “Street Data” about students’ lived experiences and perceptions of manufacturing. Empathy interviews are open ended conversations that are designed to provide us with the qualitative data on program participation to compliment our quantitative data. We will share more information soon on this work and we will be highlighting some of the incredible experiences our students are having as they engage in this pathway.
Counselor Professional Learning
On January 27th, the Post Secondary Success department in partnership with Alignment Collaborative for Education, hosted a counselor professional development on the healthcare pathway. Counselors started with a brief welcome from Elgin Community College’s Wendy Miller, Dean of Health Professions, Math, Science, and Engineering. Participants were then taken on a guided tour of the facilities for the over fifteen healthcare certificate and degree programs offered at Elgin Community College, including the recently added medical assistant and Ophthalmic Technician program. School counselors learned about the admission requirements for the various healthcare programs as well as the job outlook for students completing the program.
After the tour of Elgin Community College, school counselors took a trip to Advocate Sherman Hospital. Counselors were welcomed by Advocate’s president, Sheri DeShazo. Following a discussion of Advocate’s role in the community and healthcare industry, counselors met department leaders In Medical Lab Services, Nursing, Pharmacy, Radiology, Rehabilitation Service and Respiratory Care. The counselors participated in a tour of the facilities including a behind the scenes look at radiography and the pharmacy.
The professional development wrapped up with a presentation from U-46’s CTE Coordinator, Melissa Damewood, who spoke about the various healthcare courses available to students and future pathway endorsement opportunities.
By participating in this professional development opportunity, school counselors are better able to advise students interested in numerous career options in healthcare and the education necessary to achieve their career goals.
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
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