U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter
Information & Resources to Use and Share 10.05.22
From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D
As we enter the first week of October, please remember that we are still celebrating Hispanic (Latina/o/x) Heritage Month and although the national observance ends on October 15th, we never have to stop celebrating and acknowledging our students, colleagues, and families. Consider ways to embed culturally rich text that acknowledges and celebrates the contributions of peoples of Hispanic (Latina/o/x) heritage. Additionally, October marks LGBTQIA+ month. Further into this newsletter, you can catch a glimpse of the work occurring with our U-46 LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group.
Shifting gears...on October 27th, the Illinois State Board of Education will release district and school report cards. Every school will receive one of four designations: Exemplary, Commendable, Targeted, or Comprehensive; each designation is based on multiple measures of school performance. This year, which is different than all others, U-46 will have 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 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. Please be on the lookout for our equity journey continuum narrative which will describe the equity work started before and after the onset of the pandemic (Covid).
Moreover, as most of you know, we have 57 school sites in U-46. Unfortunately, not every site is represented on the equity committee. Our goal is to ensure that there are equity ambassadors in every U-46 department and school building. Please see our list here of current equity ambassadors who serve on the 22-23 equity committee. If you do not see representation for your school and you want to get involved, fill out the interest form linked here.
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
LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group
October 11th has come to be known as National Coming Out Day for those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community. This day marks a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and our struggle for equality, inclusion, and acceptance. This October 11th will mark the 34th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. Originally begun by Jean O’Leary, an activist within the community, the first celebration of this day took place on October 11, 1988 which happened to be the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights that had taken place just one year prior (APA, 2013). During the month of October and beyond, U-46 staff and the LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group, will continue work to promote equality, inclusion, and belonging within our school district for students, staff, families, and community members. Please take a moment to consider how you can promote equality, inclusion, and belonging within your classroom, school, and/or department for students, staff, and families that are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are many resources (listed below) available to help you honor National Coming Out Day this October 11, but that can also assist you in creating that inclusive environment where ALL feel safe, welcomed, and loved.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to members of the Equity and Innovation Dept. for more information, guidance, or resources as you begin this inclusive journey.
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.
Who are our U-46 Equity Ambassadors?
Meet Sarah Said. Sarah is an ELL English Teacher at Dream Academy High School.
She was born in the United States and grew up in an Arabic speaking home and understands the need to continue to promote language and culture in schools.
Educational equity, as defined by Sarah, is where systems and structures are created to meet the needs of all learners in order for them to achieve rigorous learning in an inclusive community. Students and staff need to feel like they belong in their school communities and their voices are heard. Student identities, languages and cultures are not only embraced, but they are celebrated. In this environment, caregivers and community members also need to feel welcomed into the educational structure and community.
Sarah Said works with students to embody and embrace who they are. Currently her 12th grade students are working on writing their own personal narratives. As a Vocal Justice Fellow, Sarah utilizes their resources and tools to support students’ abilities to be vulnerable and amplify their voices.
As a supporter of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mental Health Awareness, Sarah earned SEL Facilitator certification and a Yoga 200 RYT. She is currently working towards a Trauma Informed Classroom Certification. Promoting and supporting these platforms, Sarah gives her students tools to self soothe and understand their own mental health. Every Friday, she provides 30 minutes of Yoga to students who want to join. They are currently working on a 30 days of Yoga Breast Cancer Awareness Challenge.
The social media world is a place where Sarah uses the power of words to support students and their needs. She is a contributing writer for Confianza, an organization that coaches schools in working with English Learners and Equity. Check out her latest article, Restoring Our Own Joy This Year Will Support Students’ Language Growth — Confianza (ellstudents.com). She has also published work in Edutopia, The Teaching Channel, Learning for Justice, and EdWeek Teacher. The Illinois Digital Educators Alliance is another organization Sarah is involved in, she is a Governing Board member for the Kishwaukee Region.
What else should you know about Sarah Said? She is very social and loves to read, including comic books and manga. Sarah is an art fan and frequents the Art Institute. Not only does she speak English and Arabic, but she has learned Spanish as well. Sarah says the team of staff and students at Dream Academy High School strives for equity every single day. They are amazing Equity Ambassadors and she learns from them everyday.
Connect with Sarah Said, U-46 Equity Ambassador, on Twitter @MrsSaid17. Support Sarah's students’ 30 Day Breast Cancer Awareness Yoga Challenge by scanning this QR code
Do you know an Equity Ambassador? Tell me about them email@example.com
U-46 Equity Plan
#ourwordsmatter – Dream Academy High School Inspires All
Students at Dream Academy High School are amazing individuals, as well as a community of extremely talented young people. This semester they studied standards related to identifying themes in literature in 12th grade English. Their teachers felt that it was important for them to connect themes to their own lives. As an activity, teachers had students deconstruct inspirational quotes that people have written throughout time. The students then thought about their own lives and what words they can use to inspire others from moments in their lives. Dream Academy High School has been sharing these quotes through an Inspiration Wall and through their twitter page @DreamAcademyHi1. They also invite others to share these quotes in their school buildings. Please feel free to print one and hang it at your location. They would love it if you took a picture with it and tweeted it to their page with the hashtag #ourwordsmatter. Here is a folder with these quotes. Follow the Phoenix, and help amplify student voices throughout the district!
Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination
In the fall of every year, the middle and high schools begin the process of course selections for the next school year. Part of this process is to identify and recommend students for the AVID elective in grades 7 through 12. Although the process involves an application and interview, there is a need to recommend and encourage students who have some of the ideal characteristics to apply. As AVID is a college and career readiness system that has been in existence for 42 years across the country. Some of the key characteristics of a student who would have an excellent chance of success in the AVID elective are:
First in the family to go to college
Part of a large family structure
Single parent family
Emerging English Learner
Academically in the middle with grades and/or standardized tests
The individual determination to rise above their personal circumstances
These characteristics are not inclusive. Certainly, there are students who don’t have some of these characteristics and have been successful in the AVID elective. AVID’s mission is to close the opportunity gap (more often seen with the characteristics above) by preparing ALL students for college readiness and success in a global society. The students in the AVID elective are held to very high standards, placed in the most rigorous courses, provided support through the tutorial system, and expected to develop collaborative skills to make them become leaders in their classes and school.
The ultimate outcome of the AVID experience can be seen in some of the results of our AVID seniors. For example, last school year’s AVID seniors at Elgin High School produced the following accolades and accomplishments:
The total scholarship money awarded last year for the 2022 EHS seniors was $4,743,517.
Both recipients of the Ron Raglin Teaching and Learning Scholarship were 2022 EHS Senior AVID students.
4 of the 2022 EHS Senior AVID students were awarded the Superintendent's Scholarship.
6 of the 2022 EHS Senior AVID students won at least 1 U-46 Educational Foundation scholarship in 2022.
These accomplishments are parallel to those from senior AVID students at our other U46 high schools. In short, the AVID elective is a mechanism to help change a student’s life trajectory in a very positive way!
We need help from all 6th through 11th grade teachers to identify potential AVID students and encourage them to get in the AVID elective at their respective middle or high school.
CTE Spotlight: Culinary Arts educator Liz Schimmel, Elgin High School
“Students may come into a Culinary class wanting to know how to create exciting recipes and try new cooking techniques. They leave with that knowledge and so much more. Students will have an understanding of the many careers that are available for people who love food!” Liz Schimmel has been a part of U-46 for over ten years and is currently teaching at Elgin High School in the Culinary Arts program. She has created a dynamic course offering that includes exposure to careers. “ We visit traditional restaurants, but we also visit FONA international, a huge food flavoring company, and learn about the varied careers as a food flavorist. We explore the field of hospitality management, food photography and careers at the Food and Drug Administration. By taking Culinary Arts courses, students are exposed to all of the food related careers that students may not know about. Becoming a chef is amazing but there is a huge world of possibilities for students to explore.”
Liz has created a dynamic classroom that relies on cooperative teaching techniques and focuses on the executive functioning skills needed for today's students. Liz said, "I focus on developing students who understand team dynamics, the purpose, and responsibilities of a role on a team, and personal accountability. We use creating a recipe as the conduit to practicing and developing mastery of applied team dynamics. This is a skill that transfers to multiple areas of their lives.” Liz is a dedicated professional who knows how to excite and motivate students. She develops interesting labs that include creating dishes from scratch. “In our world today, many students don’t know the origin of what they eat, so I use ‘from scratch’ recipes as an opportunity to support student exploration. We make pasta from scratch and the students are so proud of their accomplishments and they compare fresh pasta to dried. When we make something from scratch it's the beginning of the conversation on where our food comes from, what is put into what we eat, and the impact that has on our bodies.”
The Culinary Arts program is popular with students, with many taking all four courses in the pathway with the capstone course being Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management. Students learn how to apply what they have learned in all of their courses in this culminating experience.
Post Secondary Success Updates
The Post-Secondary department is preparing for the next cycle of dual credit applications. We are hosting two family informational nights in October, the first on October 18th at 6pm and the encore on October 27th at 6pm. Both of these events will take place virtually and will cover specific information about the full time dual credit program, including how to apply for the program. The event also allows time for questions from families. The deadline for submission of all necessary components of the full time dual credit application is February 15th, 2023.
Students also have access to in-high school dual credit courses during the course selection process. U-46 offers a variety of dual credit student courses that they can take as a part of their typical eight period high school day. Courses are offered in English, math, Spanish, and nursing and are available to junior and senior year high school students. Sophomores will have access to dual credit in their precision manufacturing, welding and automotive technology introduction courses. Any students who are interested in this option, should speak with their counselor about their interest during the course selection meetings happening in November and December.
What is the Difference Between Educational Pathways and Magnet Academies?
This fall our 8th grade students will have the opportunity to apply to a Magnet Academy or participate in Educational Pathways as they transition to high school. This article will highlight the difference between these two programs and help families and students make a decision that works best for them.
Educational Pathways are clusters of strategically planned sequences of career-oriented courses paired with required general education courses that lead directly to a post-secondary plan. Educational Pathways are designed to give students and their families the information needed to plan for a high wage/ high demand career. Educational Pathways are flexible and do not require an application. They are a framework that helps students plan their future based on current interests and aptitudes. It is anticipated that many students will make changes in their plans and can choose a different Educational Pathway should that time come.
Each high school will offer the same five broad Educational Pathways. Within each Educational Pathway there are sequences of courses called Programs of Study that vary by high school. Students can participate in Programs of Study hosted in their home high school or work with a counselor to design a schedule that would allow them to travel to another high school should they choose to participate in a Program of Study not offered by their home high school. The five Educational Pathways are:
Arts & Communication
Finance, Business, IT, and Hospitality
Health, Human, and Professional Services
Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades
Magnet Academies are theme-based schools within a school. Each of the five comprehensive high schools in U-46 features a unique Magnet Academy. Magnet Academies feature course sequences based on their themes. This means that many of the electives in the Magnet Academies are required so that students graduate having met the objectives of that Magnet Academy. The Magnet Academies are an excellent choice for students who are dedicated to pursuing the coursework aligned to the theme of the academy. They will typically participate in a cohort where they will develop strong positive connections with their classmates and teachers throughout their four years in the program.
Students need to apply to the Magnet Academies in the fall of their 8th grade year. This year the application is scheduled to open October 5th and close on October 29th. More information can be found here: https://www.u-46.org/magnetacademies, including upcoming dates for the open houses.
The Magnet Academies are as follows:
Bartlett High School: Science, Engineering, and High Technology Academy
Elgin High School: International Baccalaureate Candidate Academy/ Gifted and Talented Academy
Larkin High School: Visual and Performing Arts Academy
South Elgin High School: BEACON Academy of Media and Digital Arts
Streamwood High School: LEAD Academy
Questions on Educational Pathways or Magnet Academies can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore 2022: Important Changes
After two years of offering our signature 8th-grade career exploration experience virtually, we are looking forward to returning to the NOW Arena for an in-person event tomorrow, October 6th. In alignment with our goal of every student being college and career ready, we are making some important changes. The biggest change will be utilizing the Educational Pathways that each of our high schools will be hosting to group our industry partners with corresponding U-46 programs. Students will complete a pre-lesson designed by our counselors utilizing the Naviance platform to learn about their interests and aptitudes. Based on these results, students will select two Educational Pathways to visit. Within each Educational Pathway, students will have the chance to interact with industry representatives, see displays of U-46 programs aligned to these industries, and learn about one or more Magnet Academies that they could apply to.
To maximize the knowledge students obtain from the visit, groups of students and chaperones will be paired with a volunteer tour guide who will ensure that each exhibit is fully understood by students and all questions are answered.
When students return to their schools they will engage in a lesson, discuss their experiences, build a deeper understanding, and most importantly- plan next steps. This lesson will be structured utilizing tools and practices established through U-46 Rising.
We have two outcomes for our Explore event. First, we hope students have a clearer understanding of which Educational Pathway is aligned to their early career interests and secondly, that students apply the knowledge they gained to select courses aligned to their interests and/or apply to an academy for their freshman year.
22-23 Equity Committee Meeting
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 04:00 PM
Elgin Community College, Spartan Drive, 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