Embracing Excellence with Equity

A welcoming, inclusive school climate is essential for any vibrant learning community. That’s why HCPSS is looking at new ways to further support diverse, equitable school and work environments. A Committee for Diversity and Inclusion was convened in the spring to recommend additional programs that promote mutual respect and leverage diversity so HCPSS can become an even stronger school community.

The committee’s efforts complement HCPSS’ ongoing Cultural Proficiency program, which offers numerous learning opportunities and supports to foster effective communication, respect and collaboration in our diverse school system. Cultural Proficiency is an approach that develops awareness into actions that result in excellence with equity, a “way of being” in which educators ensure every student benefits from inclusion, high expectations, cultural competence and equity. The approach includes examining individual values, beliefs and behaviors in connection to organizational policies and practices for effective cross-cultural practices.

One of the most exciting new initiatives underway is Student Voice for Inclusion and Equity. This elevates students as decision-making partners in schools and emphasizes listening to, learning from and leading with our students. A promising new practice is the Student Voice Circle, a process in which staff and students engage with Cultural Proficiency to critically examine and plan for school improvement, specifically for outcomes of inclusion and equity. The program was piloted with great success last spring at Atholton and Oakland Mills high schools.

This summer, HCPSS hosted a Cultural Proficiency conference for educators and students to reflect upon Student Voice as an instrument for inclusion and equity. The conference unveiled a conceptual model for Student Voice, based on the work of the HCPSS Cultural Proficiency and Equity Advisory Committee, and announced plans for extending the initiative into schools throughout the system. Conference participants had opportunities to hear from students who shared ideas for raising student voices in their own schools.

Chief Human Resources and Development Officer Helen Nixon summed up the importance of Student Voice, saying, “When we partner with students in our schools…the change is powerful and effective.”

To learn more about the conference, visit http://hcpssne.ws/supcrnr071316.

To learn more about Student Voice Circles, watch http://hcpssne.ws/29DsJZE.