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Cultivating Equity and Belonging to Create Student-Centered Spaces

Cultivating Equity and Belonging to Create Student-Centered Spaces

Our district is committed to fostering a learning environment that embraces diversity, promotes equity, and celebrates the unique identities of all our students. We are proud to align ourselves with the New York State Education Department's (NYSED) Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) Education Framework, a powerful vision for creating student-centered spaces that empower every child to thrive.

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education is grounded in a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion and ability) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning. 

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education

  • is based on decades of research in asset-based pedagogies
  • explores the relationship between historical and contemporary conditions of inequality and ideas that shape access, participation, and outcomes for learners
  • counters dominant narratives about differences as deficits or as characteristics of students and families that should be remediated or assimilated Educators using this approach
  • believe all families’ cultural capital, or knowledge, abilities, and networks, can, and should, be leveraged in classrooms
  • work to encourage cultural pluralism and not cultural assimilation
  • embrace home and youth culture 

The CR-S Framework is a comprehensive guide for K-12 all stakeholders: educators, administrators, board of education trustees, students, and caregivers to build culturally responsive and sustaining practices within their schools. It outlines five key areas of focus all to increase student achievement and success using a phased approach to implementing the framework

  1. Affirming Cultural Identities: Recognizing and valuing the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of all students.
  2. Preparing for Rigor and Independent Learning: Equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities to succeed in academic pursuits.
  3. Connecting Across Lines of Difference: Cultivating empathy, understanding, and collaboration among students from all backgrounds.
  4. Elevating Historically Marginalized Voices: Amplifying the voices and experiences of historically marginalized groups in curriculum, instruction, and school culture.
  5. Empowering Students as Agents of Social Change: Fostering a sense of agency and responsibility in students to advocate for themselves and their communities.

A Vision for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We believe that our commitment to CR-S education is essential to achieving our mission of building on a tradition of academic excellence and success for every student. By cultivating passionate learners and informed global citizens who actively influence their world, we can ensure that all students are prepared to thrive in a diverse and interconnected society.

Our vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is to create a district where every student feels safe, seen, heard, challenged, and celebrated for their unique identity. A district where classrooms are vibrant tapestries of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, each thread enriching the learning experience for all. 

Closing Achievement Gaps

Ensuring that all students, regardless of their background, have access to high-quality instruction and support.

  • Fostering a sense of belonging: Creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment where all students feel safe and seen.
  • Developing culturally competent educators: Equipping our educators with the knowledge and skills to effectively teach and support students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Empowering students as agents of change: Preparing students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and advocates for social justice.

A Mosaic of Identities, Woven with Respect

We envision classrooms that celebrate the rich tapestry of cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, languages, abilities, and family structures that our students represent. This means:

  • Curriculum that reflects diverse perspectives and histories: Our curriculum will go beyond traditional narratives, incorporating the contributions of historically marginalized groups and ensuring that all students see themselves reflected in the stories we tell.
  • Instruction that leverages students' cultural strengths: We will harness the unique cultural knowledge and experiences of our students to deepen their understanding and engagement in the learning process.
  • Celebrations of cultural heritage: We will create a welcoming environment where students can proudly share their cultural traditions, languages, and customs with their peers and teachers.

Equity - Leveling the Playing Field for Success

We believe that every student deserves an equal opportunity to reach their full potential. This means:

  • Addressing achievement gaps: We will identify and dismantle systemic barriers that contribute to achievement gaps between different student groups.
  • Providing targeted supports: We will offer targeted academic, social-emotional, and cultural supports to ensure that all students have the resources they need to succeed.
  • High expectations for all: We will hold all students to high academic and behavioral standards, while recognizing and respecting their individual learning styles and needs.

Connecting Across Differences - Building Bridges of Understanding

We believe that fostering empathy, understanding, and collaboration among students from all backgrounds is essential for creating a truly inclusive school community. This means:

  • Promoting open dialogue and respectful discussions: We will create safe spaces for students to engage in open and respectful dialogue about race, ethnicity, gender, and other identity factors.
  • Collaborative learning activities: We will design learning experiences that encourage students to work together, learn from each other, and appreciate the perspectives of others.
  • Celebrating diversity through school-wide events: We will organize events that celebrate the diversity of our school community and promote a sense of belonging for all students.

Elevating Marginalized Voices - Amplifying the Unheard

We believe that it is crucial to amplify the voices and experiences of historically marginalized groups in our curriculum, instruction, and school culture. This means:

  • Centering diverse perspectives in curriculum and instruction: We will actively seek out and incorporate diverse perspectives into our curriculum and instructional materials.
  • Giving students a platform to share their stories: We will create opportunities for students from marginalized groups to share their stories and experiences with their peers and teachers.
  • Challenging stereotypes and biases: We will actively challenge stereotypes and biases that contribute to marginalization and discrimination.

Empowering Agents of Change - Preparing Students for a Just World

We believe that our students have the power to create a more just and equitable world. This means:

  • Fostering a sense of social responsibility: We will help students develop a sense of social responsibility and encourage them to advocate for themselves and others.
  • Providing opportunities for civic engagement: We will offer opportunities for students to participate in civic engagement activities and make a positive impact on their communities.
  • Equipping students with the skills to dismantle injustice: We will equip students with the critical thinking skills and knowledge they need to identify and challenge injustices in their own lives and in the world around them.

A Journey, Not a Destination

Our commitment to DEI is an ongoing journey, not a destination. We recognize that we have much to learn and grow, and we are committed to continuous improvement. We invite you to join us on this journey as we strive to create a school district where every student feels empowered, valued, and prepared to thrive in a diverse and interconnected world.

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