Members of the LT administration have been working together to combat issues that stem from lack of equity within LT, such as the achievement gap, school board president Keri Dillon said. This is just the start of the actual implementation process that will extend through the span of multiple years.
“There are a lot of different avenues that we need to pursue in order to help create an equitable learning environment for all of our students,” Dillon said.
The process for this started in fall of 2020; multiple teachers participated in workshop sessions with Floyd Cobb, co-author of “Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity.” At these workshops, staff learned about creating a space where students feel respected and included. Following this, LT released the Equity Statement in February 2021, Dillon said.
Over this next year, students and families should expect communication from the school addressing equity and the achievement gap, along with other issues concerning belonging, Dillon said. There will be different divisions within the school that will look at these topics and they will try to find different approaches to address these issues.
Director of Equity and Belonging, Dr. Jennifer Rowe, currently has a monthly communication with families of students to connect with them regarding the topic of equity, she said.
The school district is supporting the work of equity in a variety of ways, Rowe said. There are multiple levels where this is occurring, and one of the most recent ways was when groups of students were invited to participate in the Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple training. Principal Dr. Jennifer Tyrell hosted this event on Oct. 18 and 19; students were exposed to the concept of belonging through a culture of dignity.
“When you’re working on something as big as this, you have to realize that ultimately students have to first feel that school is a safe and respectful place where everyone is valued and has a voice,” Dillon said. “We have to start there, and going from there, we can build out all the other areas that would enable people to be successful in their educational journey. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re excited. We have a great team.”
The administration is beginning to look at ways that the staff can collectively support equity and inclusion, Rowe said. Staff, including Tyrell and Superintendent Brian Waterman, are all working together to look at what can be improved in order to systematically make changes throughout this school year.
“A huge piece here is our teachers; they are really wondering what they can do to best support their students,” Rowe said. “I’m currently doing two study groups with teachers to assist them in expanding their knowledge and skill sets [in supporting students]. It’s been very powerful to meet with teachers and be able to talk with them about ways they can improve in their instructional practices.”
Rowe and other directors planned to present at the school board meeting on Nov. 8; their goal was to explain the bigger educational system pieces that they are working on to further promote the concepts of equity and belonging in education, she said.
LT has been working on the school’s achievement gap for multiple years, Dillon said. This topic has been on the school’s radar, and different efforts have been made to address and improve this; however, more purposeful and deliberate action will now be taken to create change.
“How can we change the culture at LT?” Dillon said. “How can students encourage each other to sign up for AP courses? How do we treat each other? These are conversations that students should be having all the time; in order to make these changes happen, it’ll take all of us and especially the students.”