Access and Inclusion
In 2015, the Park Hill School District started its focused efforts on acess and inclusion, and although we have done quite a bit of work in these areas, we still have a long way to go.
We have made equity a core part of our strategic plan.
- When we redid our Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, or CSIP, in 2018, we added a sixth focus on our list of core values -- equity.
- Our CSIP has two main goals. One of those goals is to ensure success for ALL students, regardless of background. This means that, in addition to making this a focus at the district level, each of our schools has built this focus into their own strategic improvement plans.
- We created an Equity Index and a College and Career Readiness Index to help us measure how well we are meeting students’ needs.
- Our latest CSIP is not the first time we tackled these issues. Years ago, we created a vision statement that reflected our journey: “Building successful futures, each student, every day.”
- In this pandemic, when we narrowed our focus to only what was essential, we made sure that included our access and inclusion goal and strategies.
- As the CSIP team meets to discuss the next cycle of the plan, teams members are prioritizing access and inclusion.
We recognize that we need to turn to the experts and not assume that our good intentions are enough.
- We started our study of culturally responsive education in 2015, and since then, we've extensively studied the work of Zaretta Hammond on culturally responsive education, and we provided training to our leaders and then our teachers on this important framework. We even incorporated culturally responsive teaching into our system for evaluating our teachers.
- We worked with consultants, and we are continuing that work. They helped us conduct implicit bias trainings for our Board and our administrators. We plan to extend this training to our teachers and support staff.
- We are working with Sophic Solutions on listening to our stakeholders, and we will use their input and the input of our community as we make a plan for the Park Hill School District.
- We are working with People of All Colors Succeed to lead conversations with the coaches and students in our athletics programs.
- Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd pulled together a parent advisory group to help her understand the experiences of Park Hill families.
- We officially named Dr. Terri Deayon our director of access, inclusion and family engagement to help us navigate this crucial work.
- We implemented the national AVID program, which is designed to close the opportunity gap, in all our schools.
- We developed a library of expert resources, including books, articles and movies, for staff to use.
As we developed a model for our instructional vision over the last couple years, our best and brightest teachers helped us not only identify the best practices for teaching, but also to make sure our instruction reflects our values of access and inclusion.
- Part of the instruction vision was a list of our instructional beliefs, and a few of them specifically target access and inclusion:
- We believe that learning is inclusive of every student.
- We believe that learning is enhanced when social, emotional and cultural needs are met.
- We believe that learning is supported on a foundation of positive relationships.
- Another part of the instructional vision was a learning model. This is built on a foundation of a positive classroom climate, where students enjoy a high-trust, low stress environment, as well as positive relationships with the adults. This is core to culturally responsive education.
We have worked to increase learning opportunities for each of our students, removing barriers that might stand in their way. This includes . . .
- Increasing opportunities for families of our youngest learners to access our Title I preschool.
- Requiring each of our departments to conduct equity audits to identify ways we can remove barriers for students and families.
- Providing transportation to programs like summer school, Professional Studies and Northland CAPS, so that lack of transportation is not a barrier to participation.
- Eliminating fees so that every student can participate in opportunities like field trips, sports and extracurricular activities.
- Making the gifted program screening more equitable.
- Implementing the Equal Opportunity Schools program at Park Hill South to make their enrollment in advanced placement and dual credit courses more reflective of the entire student body.
- Eliminating tracking so all students can access the highest-level courses.
- Offering high-school courses in African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, Asian-American Studies and Latin-American Studies.
Discipline and Behavior
We were concerned about how often we were disciplining our students of color, so we are taking steps to address this.
- Our Behavioral Management Team started by developing a set of philosophies, including, “all behavior is communication.”
- We are developing a multi-tiered system of supports, including supports for positive behavior, to help meet students’ underlying needs.
Hiring and Human Resources
We are evaluating our hiring practices and we are continually searching for ways to diversify our workforce so that our staff better reflects our student body. We are also providing a group to support our current employees of color.