Building an Inclusive Community of Allies in Our District
Building an Inclusive Community of Allies in Our District (Updated October, 2020)
Each of us contributes to diversity, inclusion and equality. Administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents, all have a role to play. Our district’s culture is the result of our behaviors, our personal commitments, and the ways that we courageously share our perspectives. Only together, can we help lead the change we want to see in our society and in our local community.
The Ardsley School District’s leadership team is deeply committed to teaching and practicing diversity, inclusion and equality throughout our learning community. We have been actively working on a number of projects and initiatives to help our learning community explore issues of race, equity, and inclusion. Below are listed examples of work that is underway.
Current Projects & Initiatives
- District Level:
- The Board of Education has taken a hard look at policies in recent years to update those that address bias in any way.
- Administrative Council: This summer we have undertaken a book study of the text “Equity Visits: A New Approach to Supporting Equity-Focussed School and District Leadership” to help us learn more about the leadership skills required to evaluate and improve equity and diversity in the K-12 curriculum.
- Leaders from the school and district level attended the 2020 Summer Institute on Race, Equity, and Social Justice hosted by Southern Westchester BOCES. (Contact: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Wilson, Senior Director for Professional Learning, email@example.com) This 4-day professional learning experience helped our leaders learn alongside other educators in our region as they explored topics such as implicit bias, race, and equity as they relate to K-12 Education.
- For the last four years, the district has participated in the Diversity Career Fair to seek out talented educators that reflect the demographics of our student body.
- We are working with the Ardsley Village and have initialized plans for anti-bias training for our employees.
- We also issue messages of support on a district level and on individual school levels as events in the news warrant.
- Elementary School:
- A team of 9 teachers and leaders worked all year to learn more about the New York Culturally Responsive Framework as a way to evaluate and improve equity and diversity in the K-4 curriculum.
- R.O.A.R. (We are Respectful; Outwardly kind and caring; Always safe; and Responsible) is a program which promotes kindness, acceptance, and understanding in our students.
- Middle School:
- The ‘No Place for Hate’ program was launched in 2017 to help combat bias and bullying and raise awareness on how words and actions can make someone feel in day-to-day interactions.
- ‘Random Acts of Kindness Week’ promotes kindness, empathy and understanding toward others & teaches important social emotional learning skills.
- Center for Human Rights Leadership Program: Each year, a group of seventh grade students attend the Human Rights Institute for Middle School Leaders sponsored by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center of White Plains, NY.
- High School:
- Our Response to Bias Committee is led by Ardsley High School faculty. It’s mission is to increase awareness and help teachers understand cultural differences and respond to acts of bias that they may encounter in our classrooms and schools. The committee was formed 1 1/2 years ago and has had many accomplishments. In the Spring of 2019, they organized and held two training/professional development sessions. Over last summer, the committee met several times to create a student survey which was deployed in November to better understand the student experience. The Committee has also drafted a template of responses to help teachers when they are faced with difficult situations. In response to recent news events, the Response to Bias Committee sent an email to their colleagues responding to the acts of violence surrounding George Floyd's death. The committee works with student led organizations such as the Students of Color Club and Building Bridges as well as community organizations such as the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the R.A.C.E committee.
- We support and embrace student-based clubs in our High School such as Building Bridges, Gay Straight Alliance, Asian Society Club, Students of Color and others promote awareness and support diversity.
We often promote and collaborate with Ardsley Village’s Multicultural and Diversity Committee and Ardsley’s Racial Advocacy Committee for Equity (R.A.C.E.) on events, which many of our faculty and Board of Education attend. Specifically, this spring and continuing over the summer, Dr. Schoenfeld participated in community-led demonstrations and rallies including:
- Protest along 9A and Ashford Avenue
- 6/19 Black Lives Matter Protest at Pascone Park (student led - Fiker Zewdie and Maya Levine, Ardsley High Juniors and Juliet Wishner, a 2016 Ardsley High School graduate)
- 8/29 A Rally for Hope and Justice for Breonna Taylor (student led - Ari and Ana Laurient) also attended by George Latimer, Andrea Stuart Cousins, Mayor Kaboolian, Chief Piccolino, and Tejash V. Sanchala
- 9/1 Ardsley Racial Advocacy Committee for Equity (RACE) virtual Town hall
As a learning community, we must continue to work together to drive positive change. While most of us can barely begin to understand the personal toll that racism inflicts, we can increase our resolve to teach and practice inclusivity, equity, access while also celebrating the richness of diversity.
This fall, our commitment and focus on social justice and systemic racism will continue:
- We look forward to continued collaboration with RACE to organize Town Halls that will bring in more voices and perspectives especially from students and faculty.
- We are working with faculty leaders in all three schools to organize a faculty study group exploring Race, Equity, and Social Justice with the specific goal of understanding how schools can adopt an anti-racist stance in our community.
- Our Administrative team will continue its work on Equity Visits with an eye to developing building level goals around curriculum and student life. We are also planning to receive implicit bias training.
We have compiled a list of resources that you may find helpful in talking to your students about racism. Please know our school counselors and administrators are available to you should you need additional help.
Embracerace - 10 tips for teaching and talking to kids about race
31 children's books which support conversations on race, racism, and resistance
The New York Times Anti-Racism Books for Kids
Anti Defamation League’s website, Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events.