The Shorewood School District’s commitment to advancing student equity is a key focus in 2019. Understanding that the classroom can be the center of societal change, District leadership is placing a high priority on creating more opportunities within the classroom through culturally responsive teaching, with the aim of supporting all students’ needs in a way that prepares them for success in school and beyond.
The District Equity Plan includes three program areas: a new Student Equity Task Force at Shorewood High School, RaceWorks professional development for staff at all four schools, and the Shorewood Schools Equity Forum.
The Student Equity Task Force comprises a diverse group of SHS student representatives from a variety of clubs. They meet regularly to discuss ways to contribute student voices to policy, practices and the curriculum. The group’s first steps were to brainstorm and prioritize topics they felt were most urgent for administration to address. They decided to focus on two: curriculum representation, and teacher and administration accepting and acting on students’ stated concerns.
“The next step for us will be to contact administrators and start a conversation about our thoughts and concerns,” says SHS sophomore and task force member Sadie Cumberbatch. “I am eager to see how we, as students, can work with adults within our district to improve life at Shorewood High School.”
In addition to the students’ work, District teachers and staff have been participating in an ongoing series of RaceWorks professional development sessions throughout the 2018-19 school year. Raceworks frames the way race influences our schools, and these sessions facilitate collaboration to develop teaching strategies and cultivate classroom environments that better support all students. Guest speakers like Dr. Erin Winkler, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Africology professor and a consultant to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, have provided insight and serve as a resource for teachers.
In a recent session, staff engaged in a visioning process and brainstormed steps to help the District become more racially equitable. Teachers explored curriculum opportunities around racial equity and racial enrollment patterns, with each grade level and department analyzing these topics and developing further action steps.
“Teachers continue to take a serious look at infusing racial equity into their curriculum and instruction,” says Shorewood Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tim Joynt. “Our collaborative approach allows us to use research and experience to improve our students’ performances. The responses we have received from teachers surrounding RaceWorks has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The District will continue to enable teachers and staff to work on their racial equity action plans during professional development sessions and staff meetings.
To extend the student equity discussion to the broader community, the District will host its first Shorewood Schools Equity Forum in late spring. With help from racial equity experts Reggie Jackson and Fran Kaplan from Nurturing Diversity Partners, the event is being designed to facilitate a community conversation on diversity and how best to move forward.
“The Equity Forum will allow us to maximize our resources as we put together our District Equity Plan,” says Shorewood School District Superintendent Bryan Davis. “I appreciate all of the outreach and support from our community, and I am confident that through the forum, we will be able to prioritize initiatives and actionable steps as part of our Strategic Plan.”
For more information on the District’s work in equity and diversity, visit shorewood.k12.wi.us/equity/.