Equity in E. Carver Co. Schools
At Eastern Carver County Schools, we are committed to creating a school environment where everyone feels welcome, safe, and included, and where every child has access to the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. The mission of our school district is learners achieving their personal best and, simply put, we cannot be successful if equity work isn’t foundational to our approach to learning.
I speak on behalf of the School Board and district staff when I saw we are committed to this work. Equity is foundational to personalized learning, it’s necessary for strong communities, and every single one of our students will benefit not just during school, but after they leave our halls. This work requires an investment from all of us, administrators, teachers, parents, students, to be successful. This is long-term, ongoing work, but I, and the entire ECCS team, believe in it, and in the potential of every student in our district.
District Equity and Inclusion Updates
At the May 6 work session, staff updated the board on ongoing work around the district’s equity and inclusion initiatives.
Eastern Carver County Schools is, and has been, committed to providing students equal educational opportunities. Over the last decade our district has engaged in a variety of initiatives with the shared purpose of creating communities of belonging and success. Our commitment to equity is reflected districtwide in work designed to:
- acknowledge and check our racial and cultural biases;
- utilize data to understand what is working and where we must improve;
- implement best practices related to engaging and supporting learners in achieving their personal best;
- provide stakeholders in our community with opportunities to engage meaningfully and guide our vision for equity.
Urban Leadership Academy
Eastern Carver County Schools joined the board of the Urban Leadership Academy in 2013. For the past 22 years, the Urban Leadership Academy has provided programming and sustained dialogue focused on the continuous professional development of school leaders. Urban Leadership Academy workshops provide educational leaders the opportunity to explore the complexity of leading learning organizations in order to better serve students. During this time, the number of staff participating continues to grow, with approximately 40 leaders, both teachers and administrators attending this year.
Culturally Responsive School Leadership Academy
Administrators of Eastern Carver County Schools are enrolled in the inaugural cohort of the University of Minnesota’s Culturally Responsive School Leadership Academy. The goal of the Minnesota Principals Academy is to create a statewide network of district and charter school leaders who are motivated and have the skills to create and sustain schools in which all students are on the path to college readiness by the end of high school. A sub-group of the district equity leadership team in participating in this academy as a means to guide our work.
Focus 5: Equity
Eastern Carver County Schools’ commitment to provide exceptional, personalized learning for all students is unwavering and intentional. Knowing our learners is critical in providing meaningful and relevant learning experiences for all. As part of an ongoing, continuous cycle of review and strategic planning each building leadership team annually defines five goals named Focus 5. Teams work with the Teaching and Learning Department and review various types of data including assessment results, survey feedback, behavior referrals, etc. to determine needs and develop next steps.
Beginning in the 2017-18 academic year and continuing into 2018-19, based on districtwide identified needs, all schools included two consistent focus areas: Standards-Based Learning and Equity. Each goal area, such as equity, has a detailed action plan and incorporates professional learning as a means to promote growth and improvement. Building’s equity focus include elements such as: understanding the background and cultures of all learners at a group and personal level, building more purposeful relationships, increasing access and opportunities for all learners, expanding culturally-responsive teaching, rethinking and reframing leadership practices, and increasing overall self-awareness of our own deeply-rooted beliefs and paradigms that impact our work and influence our actions.
In 2017, Eastern Carver County Schools joined with other metro-area school districts in Reimagine Minnesota to ensure equity and excellence for all students. Reimagine Eastern Carver County Schools was created to achieve equity through engaging effective, diverse stakeholders who use trusting relationships to create welcoming classrooms, schools and communities that meet the needs (hopes & dreams) of all students and families.
Reimagine Eastern Carver County Schools developed structure and direction for this important work in our schools and community to promote a better understanding of equity and cultural competency. Several services and resources already in place in our district include: Intercultural Specialists, language services support, speakers bureau, Celebrate Summer, food programs, multilingual communication, First Generation College Programs/Services, and professional development and training opportunities for staff. The district-wide initiative is being led by an Equity Leadership Team which provides vision and direction for this important work.
Intercultural Harmony is an initiative created out of Reimagine Eastern Carver County Schools. An important component in this work is to engage our schools and community in conversations about the topics of diversity, inclusion and equity. Our Equity Advisory Team facilitates these discussions. In October 2017, we kicked off Intercultural Harmony. Staff, parents and community members meet to discuss various topics pertaining to equity and receive training on cultural competency and creating inclusive communities. If you are interested in getting involved in this important work, contact Michelle Milstein.
View meeting notes:
Inclusive Communities Coalition (ICONIC)
Eastern Carver County Schools is a partner to Inclusive Communities Coalition (ICONIC), a group of public, non-profit and private organizations focused on building inclusive communities in Carver County. Formed in 2016, ICONIC’s mission is to build and strengthen a genuine inclusive community that embraces equal opportunities and a sense of belonging for people of all abilities.
Innocent Classrooms Project Pilot at Pioneer Ridge Middle School
Author and educator Alexs Pate launched Innocent Classroom, a professional development experience for educators, with a vision to rebuild teacher-student relationships in school districts with some of the country’s widest gaps in achievement. In summer 2018, Pioneer Ridge Middle School began a pilot of the Innocent Classroom project. The intensive workshop series changes how teachers think about and engage their students, especially students of color. Through conversations and real-world examples, we deliver context and practical strategies for building relationships with every child.
In 2007, Eastern Carver County Schools started the Beacon Council, supporting the education of all learners by advocating and promoting cultural awareness, understanding, and equitable practices. This was done through work aimed at creating culturally competent school community that is welcoming and respectful to all, structuring learning that prepares learners for a successful future in a global society, and advocating through collaboration and leadership within the communities throughout the district. The Beacon Council transformed into our Intercultural Harmony initiative in 2017.
Intercultural Specialists connect multicultural and under-served families and students with community and school programs, resources, and events to ensure academic success.
Intercultural Specialists specialize in:
- Promoting academic success with multicultural students
- Educating multicultural families how to navigate the Eastern Carver County Schools educational system
- Mediating concerns between multicultural students and schools
- Building the bridge between diverse families and the school community
- Promoting cultural awareness
- Being a resource for questions and concerns for multicultural parents and students
The equity coordinator supports the districtwide equity work including coordinating development of the equity framework, oversight of the work of the intercultural specialists, and serving as a support and resource to building and district leadership.
District Equity Leadership
Clint Christopher – Superintendent
Jackie Johnston – Director of Community Education
Chris Commers – CEA President
David Brecht – Student Services Administrator
Susana DeLeon – Chaska High School Dean
Chris Hentges – Digital Learning Coordinator
Amy LaDue – Assistant Superintendent
Liisa Gilbert – Dual Language EL Coach
Kellie Krick Oborn – Specialized Education Supervisor
Elizabeth Johnson – Instructional Coach
An Equity Advisory Team advises the Leadership Team and advocates and supports the work in school buildings, programs and the community. Every school is represented in this important equity and inclusion work.
Join us for a Community Conversation focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in Eastern Carver County Schools. Families, students, district staff, and community members are welcome to attend: Community Conversation on equity, diversity & inclusion Tuesday, April...