This page is intended to serve two purposes. One purpose is to make the work of the equity mentors transparent, so that families, communities, and colleagues can see what is being done in each school. The second purpose is to facilitate networking, so that people can find ways to work together to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success in the Ithaca City School District. Click here to read the job-description and expectations for equity mentors.

Scroll down to see the equity work that is being done in your school.

(Click on the mentor’s name to reach her/him by e-mail)
Enfield Elementary School

Susan Phillips
Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone
Lehman Alternative Community School

Diane Carruthers
South Hill Elementary School

Marianne Stuart
Boynton Middle School
Teresa Vossen
Beverly J. Martin Elementary School

Jacqueline Melton Scott
Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt
Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow
Belle Sherman Elementary School

Bill Van Slyke,
Fall Creek Elementary School
Mary Patte
Ellen Rowe
DeWitt Middle School

Monique Wallace
Dan McGrath
Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Cathy Gee
Margi Beem-Miller
Belle Sherman Elementary School
Bill Van Slyke, Equity Mentor
As an equity mentor I posted and distributed the weekly equity challenges, discussing them with staff as opportunities arose. Informal discussions with staff members also provided opportunities to discuss equity issues. I used staff meetings to apprise staff of opportunities for equity work, such as district level workshops. After meeting with K-1 and 2-3 teachers about things they would like to see, I facilitated a child study group
meeting, using Prospect Center descriptive processes to look at the work of a first grade student. Though sparsely attended I found it to be of values and plan on doing this more regularly next year. I participated in weekly Principal's Cabinet meetings with other grade level representatives as a means of finding out about potential equity issues as well as suggesting ways to include equity as part of staff meetings on various issues.
An example would be the discussions that took place around the issue of full community access to night time events at
school. I met with the director of Southside Community Center to discuss ways to strengthen the connection between Belle Sherman and Southside, which has been stronger in the past. This continues to be a goal area for future work, including possibly planning a school event at Southside. I really like the idea of a regular "Equity Minute" at staff meetings as a goal for next year.

Boynton Middle School
Teresa Vossen, Equity Mentor

Year-End Summary:
1. Participant Reactions:
I valued the time the equity mentors met as I got to hear what was happening in other buildings, which both challenged and validated some of the work I was engaged in. Unfortunately, the meeting time flew by and I always felt like I wanted more time to participate, even though I was tired at the end of the day.
Feedback from my reading group included, people looked forward to the conversations, and staff were interacting w/ groups they would not have otherwise.
2. Participant Learning:
I'm unable to articulate what I learned. But I do know I learned to be less anxious about my work as an equity mentor, and that I had to let myself do the best job I could do. I felt supported always knowing people were available for my questions. The Rethinking Schools journal was always a welcomed reading.
3. Organizational Change:
The book group helped to bring a group of people together who were interested in learning the same thing. This group allowed us to share ideas, challenge eachother, but more importantly, think about how 15 individuals could have an impact on educating about race in this building.
4. Participant Change:
Book group participants respond that the book group & discussions is helping them to look at things in a different way.
5. Student learning:
Being a mentor and working through my growing edge is helping me to discuss race with kids of color comfortably. And the kids are responding, and it's rewarding to have a genuine relationship with an adolescent who can trust and express herself safely.

Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt, Equity Mentor

November/December 2008

Work we have done to help us eliminate inequity:

  • On Superintendents Conf Day in October, I led a session for ESPs on ways to respond to incidences of bias, including developmentally appropriate language for educating "perpetrators", and steps for helping and reassuring the person who's been hurt. A week later, a classroom aide who'd attended the ESP workshop made sure that a racist remark made by a student was handled properly. I continue to hear positive feedback and examples of ways people are using the information.
  • I will be doing a similar workshop for ICSD teachers and ESPs on the January Supt. Conference Day.
  • Last year, staff on the Equity Committee did skits to teach students what “bias” means and what a Bias Free Zone might look like. This year, the Equity Committee organized an all-school Bias-Free Zone assembly that took place on Nov. 28. This time, students demonstrated their understanding of what a bias-free zone is, and taught students new to Caroline about it. We had a variety of performances including skits, songs, a video and an ABC book. Almost all grade levels were represented on stage and they did a great job.
Work we have done to help us eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
  • In addition to the above-mentioned Bias-Free Zone initiative, we are having conversations about how we can solicit feedback from parents of color regarding the ways our school is and isn’t meeting the needs of their children.
  • We have planned school-wide activities in observance of the MLK Jr.’s birthday.
  • I have collected posters that include pictures of students of color for classroom use and I am making them available to teachers fro use in their classrooms.

Work we have done to help us eliminate class as a predictor of student success:
  • At the October Superintendents Conf Day, I showed the Buffalo Hill Road film to all staff. I led the discussion afterwards. We had a very vigorous conversation, with people sharing their personal and professional experiences and opinions pretty freely. The hardest part was keeping away from a deficit model--we drift there so quickly.


Work we have done to help us eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:
  • See above
January - March 2008
Work we are doing in general...
We are using 3 questions to focus us on students' needs when we make decisions as a staff. We are encouraging teachers and parents (PTA, etc.) to use the same questions:

-How will this decision affect students of color?

-How will this decision affect students with disabilities?

-How will this decision affect students who are not economically privileged?

Barry will come to our next staff meeting to show us how to access culturally validating materials.
Year-End Summary:
Caroline School Development Plan Equity Goal Accomplishments 2007-08
The Equity Committee has been busy this year, helping to implement the 2007-08 School Development Plan Equity Goal. Other members of the Caroline school community have played a role as well. Among our accomplishments are the following:
  • Revised the Procedures for Responding to Incidences of Bias.
  • Provided a workshop for Caroline Educational Support Professionals on Responding to Incidences of Bias.
  • Showed the film Dream Street to staff and conducted a discussion about it.
  • Organized an assembly at which students taught those new to Caroline about our Bias-Free Zone through skits, songs, alphabet books and slide shows.
  • Organized a Martin Luther King Jr. Kindness and Justice Challenge and assembly.
  • Hosted Yowanda Wells, an African American singer who taught students about African music, storytelling and culture.
  • Hosted a return visit from Pastor Bruce Davenport of New Orleans, who has taught Caroline students about the after effects of Hurricane Katrina on the residents of New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.
  • Distributed articles and resources to staff.
  • Explored ways to get feedback from parents, particularly those of students from populations underrepresented at Caroline.
  • Wrote a new Equity Goal, with strategies, for the School Development Plan covering the next three years.
  • Held productive discussions at staff meetings regarding the Equity SDP and the direction we want to go as a school.


Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Kathy Gee and Margi Beem-Miller, Equity Mentors

Work we have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We started off the year as equity mentors during the first Superintendent's conference day by leading a brainstorm with the staff. We had them divide themselves into six groups with each group focusing on one of the board's equity priorities. Groups then wrote ideas of things to do in our building to help meet these priorites. They wrote on index cards and we posted their ideas on six big sheets of paper, one for each priority. Groups shared back some of their ideas. We then used these ideas to help us infuse equity priorities into our School Development plan. We also typed up the ideas and distributed the list to each staff member in the building.

As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.


Work we have done to help staff eliminate inequity
:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
See Above


Work we have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success
:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We have also had two meetings of our reading group that is studying the book Young, Gifted and Black. There are fifteen people who are reading and discussing the book including our Principal Dr. James. The discussions have been thought provoking and sometimes challenging!

As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.


Work we have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.
Work we have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

General Work Being Done...
January - March:
At Cayuga Heights we have been working with a group of 8 to 10 teachers who have been reading the book Young, Gifted and Black. We meet monthly and discuss quotes from the book suggested by the equity mentors and the group members. We've also spent time discussing equity challenges, both in the monthly reading group and for 10 minutes at each staff meeting.

During a staff meeting in January we worked with our Principal, Dr. Claudette James, to facilitate a discussion/reflection session following the viewing of the film: The Shadow of Hate: A History of Intolerance in America . The last part of the written self reflection involved asking staff members to write down something they would commit to doing as a way to work towards elminiating bias and discriminatory behavior. There will be an oportunity for further discussion of people's reaction to the film at the next reading group meeting.

We are also working on trying to get a bulleting board for equity related postings. We are also working on trying to get transportation for families to evening and after school events at our school. (Margi Beem-Miller & Cathy Gee)
As of 4/08
We have continued to meet with our reading group at Cayuga Hts. Elementary School. We read Part lll Acheiveing in Post-Civil Rights America: The outline of a theory in the book Young, Gifted and Black. We discussed implications for practice and possible action steps. We spent a long time discussing how we can create counter narratives for our African American students and the practical implications of holding high expectations for all students regardless of race, class and disability. The group will continue to meet in April where we will finish the last section of the book Young, Gifted and Black as well as continue to discuss the practical applications of creating counter narratives for African American students, holding high expectations for African American students, becoming culturally aware/informed and utilizing community resources.
Year-End Summary - Five Level Analysis:
1. Participant Reactions (Do they like it------ Value it?)
Here are some quotes that members of our CHES Equity Reading Group wrote on their final reflection sheets:
  • “ being a member of the equity reading group raised my awareness and served to keep equity issues closer to the front of my consciousness”
  • “…though there is a time commitment to joining, I liked doing the group book read; I liked getting together and hearing others’ interpretations of the material…”
  • “ …group discussions were interesting, informative and valuable.”
  • “..discussions were lively and actually helped build a community within a community..”
From the whole staff reflection sheets:
“ I really liked the equity challenges.”

2. Participant Learning (What did they learn?)
Here are some further reflections from the surveys about what the participants learned as a result of the equity work at CHES.
  • One participant stated “I have tried to tease out the effects of race vs. the effects of poverty on academic performance”.
  • Another teacher said, “I continued to make kids aware of racial/gender/class challenges and stereotypes.”
  • Another teacher said, “Awareness and expansion of display materials. Direct addressing of inequity problems with the whole class not just with the students involved.”

3. Organizational change (what changes did your work cause in the organization organizations can be district, school, community, departments, teams, your organizations, book groups, equity committees, etc.)
  • From reading people’s reflections on the equity work, I sensed a renewed commitment among CHES staff to make equity a priority by trying harder to reach out to EVERY parent/caregiver, even when it is more difficult to get in touch.
  • In addition, people in the Equity Reading group decided that it would be important to hold regular school wide assemblies to give children a chance to shine in non-academic ways, so that each child can share their own particular talent, instead of just always holding school wide gatherings that recognize the same kids for their academic achievements.
  • This year, our Principal, Dr. James made a commitment to have five to 10 minutes set aside each Staff meeting for “equity minutes”. She also submitted items to the PTA newsletter for parents to read.
  • In the beginning of the year, the co-equity mentors facilitated a session at Superintendent’s Conference Day where all CHES staff members worked together in small groups to integrate the school board’s six equity priorities into our School Wide Development plan.
4. Participant Change (What changes did your work cause in the organization- organization can be district, school, community, departments, teams, your organizations, e.g. book groups, equity committees, etc?)
In reviewing the reaction sheets, one teacher stated that she used some of the Second Step lessons that she did not use last year. She “intends to continue class program of presenter’s with disabilities. Another teacher said that the equity work helped her “realize how important and fair ‘high expectations’ are for all”. The idea of holding high expectations for all students was something the participants of the reading group felt they could implement right away as a strategy to promote equity among students. Additionally, a participant said that she “reached out to families that don’t typically don’t respond to school requests in paper form”. She “took advantage of times when the parents were in the building to have an ‘informal’ conference about their child”.
5. Student learning (What did student’s learn as a result of your work?)
  • In examining what student’s learned as a result of our equity work one teacher remarked that in reaching out to parents by having ‘informal’ conferences she found that her relationships with the parents was much more positive and in the end the families worked more with their children to support academics. One child in particular made significant gains when the parents supported the school curriculum with activities she provided.
  • In addition when we compiled the responses to our survey overwhelmingly participants said they had become more self-aware. In raising their own awareness they became more conscious of their interactions with their students as well as how their student’s treat each other. Ultimately, by raising their own awareness they became more conscious of how race, disability and class affect student performance.
DeWitt Middle School
Monique Wallace, Dan McGrath, Equity Mentors

We will finish our book group on Thursday, March 6, from 4-6. We will meet in the building and our last book is Learning Power Organizing for Education and Justice.

Dan and I plan to start reading articles with the group. We are looking for ones about cultrually responsive schools.
Enfield Elementary School
Susan Phillips, Equity Mentor

Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have had many conversations with colleagues and students regarding stereotypes, recognizing the dominant culture's oppressive power, bullying (among people of all ages), and the meanings of equity, racism, sexism, and classism.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have become active with Positively Enfield, a group of staff interested in building a strong community that includes all staff, students and their families. This year we have modified the mission statement of the group to include a commitment to welcoming all families into the community and educating through positive feedback and reliance on student (and staff) strengths.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have participated on the Enfield Multicultural Committee which has chosen a focus this year on providing counter narrative examples for African American students. Our goals are:
  • to find resources that expand on the already-prescribed curriculum at each grade level to provide strong authentic examples of African American scholars, scientists and artists- this requires research on our group's part!
  • provide more African American speakers, tutors and classroom volunteers to Enfield students who model academic skills (i.e. not just great athletes and talented Hip Hop dancers)
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008

Year-End Summary:
As a new equity mentor at Enfield Elementary, and a new permanent staff member, much of my work was based on getting to know the current discourse on race and equity in this
school community. Another large part was helping others to understand my ideas and position on issues of race and equity as a new part of the staff. Equity Challenges were
posted and distributed to all members of the staff. While only a small amount of feedback was given to me on these challenges, the informal conversations and check-ins with
individuals in their classrooms or the staff as a whole in staff meetings were positive, yet unspecific. An effort was made to involve ESP staff through a reading group, which was unattended, however, all of the articles provided in the staff room were taken. The Multicultural Committee is still involved in providing resources that tie directly to
existing curriculum that provide a counter narrative of African Americans.

The staff at Enfield is remarkable caring and sensitive toward the predominantly white rural population of the school. As a fifth grade teacher (for the first time) my thoughts have tended more toward teaching teachers and students about being white and understanding the societal privilege, and duty to change it, that entails. I have initiated many discussions with fifth graders and their families regarding their open anxiety toward middle school and the "racial issues" that have occurred there. Many of these discussions, especially among students, have centered on transferring their "textbook" knowledge of stereotypes- a curricular focus in most grades- to real world applications. We have discussed their notions of "downtown kids" and we have considered how others perceive them as "country kids." These discussions have been gritty and sometimes painful for students; they are frustrated with their own prejudices and fears, but some are showing glimmers of understanding about why they and their families see things the way that they do. They don't know how to change, but have recognized that they have a role in it. This outcome to me is dramatic and yet, minimal.

I have shared these discussions with colleagues and have brainstormed how real world skills and understanding can come from such seemingly distant topics as the study of Africa and the Civil Rights movement. How can we help families as well as their children approach the middle school experience (which to them means mixing with the "downtown kids") with open hearts and minds so they can be effective learners, and eventually, productive citizens of the world.

The greatest changes have been for me this year: beginning to understand the staff, families and community of Enfield School, discovering the particular needs of this particular community in understanding and eliminating race and class as predictors of success, and broadening my own knowledge through reading, teaching and listening.


Fall Creek Elementary School
Mary Patte and Ellen Rowe, Equity Mentors

(Organized by the equity plan priorities)
Work we have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We have talked to the staff about the Equity Report Card and we are in the process of getting copies for the staff to look at. We are also talking with Karen Keller about trying to make an Equity Report Card for Fall Creek. We are also working on including equity, student achievement, and early interventions as part of our School Development Plan.

Work we have done to help staff eliminate inequity
:
2/3/07 - 12/13/07

We have had many one-on-one discussions with staff members. We have been part of PTA discussions about reaching out to families that do not feel connected to the school.

Organized by the 2007 - 2010 Equity Priority Goals
12/13/07 - 1/10/07
Curriculum - At our staff meetings we have discussed our social emotional curriculum - especially Second Steps and
Responsive Classroom. Karen Keller is planning a survey to see what social emotional curriculum each teacher is using
and also to see what teachers feel they need in terms of staff development in relation to our social emotional curriculum. Our social emotional curriculum will also be part of our School Development Plan.

Family Community Advocacy and Involvement - Mary Patte, as the Family Liaison and Ellen and Mary, as the Equity Mentors have had many discussions with staff about communication with all families - especially families that are not usually
involved in the school.

Supplemental Programs - At staff meetings, we have had discussions about collecting data to make an Equity Report
Card for Fall Creek. We are also discussing what staff development we need to support us in building on students' strengths and working with students to help to close the equity gap at Fall Creek. This will also be part of our School Developement Plan.

Targeted Academic Support - Through staff discussions, plans for early invervention, and plans for staff
development we are working together as a staff to plan for targeted academic support and this will be the focus of our School Developement Plan.
Other Thoughts:
In our role as Equity Mentors we:
  • Are constantly bringing up equity during discussions at
    staff meetings and challenging the staff to think in terms
    of equity.
  • Are communicating with all staff about the Equity Challenges
    - discussing the challenges at staff meetings and with
    individual staff members. (At times we tweak the challenge
    to apply more to our needs at Fall Creek.)
  • Are continually talking with staff members about student
    needs and communication with families.
Year-End Summary Reflection:
Equity has been an important part of many conversations and much planning at Fall Creek. Equity has been part of Assembly and Arts planning discussions, equity is an integral part of our School Development Plan, equity is at the forefront of staff meeting discussions, and parents are discussing how to make Fall Creek more equitable and the PTA is very committed to this.
The area that we have worked the hardest on is making all families feel welcome at Fall Creek. We have reached out to all families for Curriculum Night, parent conferences, evening events, and the new kindergarten parent meeting. We have also given everyone on the staff a copy of Culturally Responsive Parent Involvement.
We are hoping to build on this next year - including touching base with teachers individually and starting a book group around the book "Creating Welcoming Schools."
Everyone loved the "Second Steps" program presented by ACS. In some classes, Fall Creek students then made up their own skits about getting along and valuing each other.
We would also like to facilitate having the staff generate our own "equity challenges" for next year.

Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone, Equity Mentor

IHS Reading Group Blog


Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

Discussions with individual teachers particularly about refugee student issues.
Secondary Literacy Academy day-long workshop which focused on a great book about young black males and literacy.
Also day-long reading teacher meeting which focused on Catch-up growth for all students and the Family Reading
Partnership: Ways we can change things for students who are not reading at grade level.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Participation in the district secondary literacy group, formerly known as “ Literacy Academy”
Promoting the Equity Challenge more effusively. Posting it in more places. And I am getting more responses-all positive!
Meetings and workshops
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
I have joined a new staff group about Healing re: the recent tensions at the high school; we are trying several ideas to develop more of a sense of community.
Reading books about the issue.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Facilitate the Affirming Rural Youth group at our high school.
Participant in the Affirming Rural Youth district group.
We are working on several initiatives, especially concerning transportation to after school/evening
events for students and families.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
I talk with other staff about Autism and emotional disability. I have studied these topics extensively and have a lot of experience with people who have these disabilities.

General Work Being Done...
1/31/08 - 3/28/08

Book Club: Nickled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

The first meeting of our Book Club for Equity is this Friday, 4-5:30 at ABC cafe in collegetown.

We will distribute the first book (Thank you Kim for buying them), Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich


Meeting Friday, 2/29. ABC cafe in Collegetown. 4-5:30

The book will be distributed at this meeting (Thanks for providing them Kim!)

WE will decide when and where for next month's meeting.

Next book probably will be: Young Gifted and Black

(if you have copies in your building that we can borrow, that would be great

Open to any and all, tell people at your buildings


Diversity Day

Planning will start on 3/14 Superintendent' Conference Day

The hope is to organize a whole day of workshops, performances for students to attend

Any suggestions are most welcome


Affirming Rural Students

The district group meets at the high school once a month.

We are discussing equity in transportation.

Also, trying to institute or re-institute classes that are career oriented. Outlying school districts still have programs for agriculture, engines, medical technology. Why can't we?

The Tattler, school newspaper, has published writing from rural students in the last two issues: one about hunting and one about mod-bogging (riding trucks off road) which have been very well received by the community
.
Year-End Evaluation using Guskey’s Five Levels:
  1. Do participants like/value my work as Equity Mentor?
    • I received a lot of positive feedback about the Book Group for Equity. Teachers appreciated the time to connect with each other and share about topics of race, class, disability. Even teachers and para-professionals who could not attend the meetings requested books and were enthusiastic.
    • I also formed a Social Committee with a few other teachers to respond to the lack of community/connection among staff. We wanted to provide a model for students of how people who are different can get along. We had a few successful projects: displaying teen photos of staff, hosting a staff breakfast and ice cream social. Staff appreciated these efforts.
    • Some teachers responded positively to the Equity Challenges and tried them.
    • During the conflicts in the fall, various teachers shared thoughts and emotions with me to help them deal with the issues.
    • Other staff looked to me for support when dealing with the refugee community because of my history and contacts.
    • I experienced some resistance to my efforts with the Special Ed department. I have offered to join forces with the teacher of the new Autism program in an effort to integrate those students more successfully into the high school and provide training for staff and students.
    2. Participant Learning?
    • Various teachers described learning they gained from the Equity Challenges. Some staff learned more about racism and poverty during our book groups. I deepened my own understanding of racism, history and impacts, in the Undoing Racism workshops.
    • In the different talk-backs I attended after Ordinary People presentations, teachers and students were gaining better understanding of the issues of discrimination.
    • More teachers recognized the literacy needs in the building: Science and math teachers as well as Humanities staff, shared ideas about teaching literacy in their curriculum area.
    3. Participant/Orginizational Change?
    • The biggest change is yet to be implemented: a Community Conference Day being planned for next year.
    • I have ideas for ways to mitigate the issues that occurred during the last days of classes-a more pro-active approach. I am concerned that many staff support the heavy-handed police model and it may need kid-glove treatment.
    • One success was getting articles in the Tattler by students who are not typical reporters and whose articles reflected a different life style than the middle class students’. Teachers, students and even community members were excited by his articles.
    • There has been some attempt to listen to students’ concerns but the students get the credit for that.
    • Different departments are investigating ways to teach literacy in their curriculum.
    • Staff groups met in Professional Learning Communities which included literacy coaches from the reading staff. Teachers shared ideas for incorporating literacy in their areas.
    4. Participant Change?
    • I’m not sure about this one. Perhaps some teachers are less likely to judge a student whose clothes and level of cleanliness do not match their expectations.
    • Perhaps teachers have a better grasp of the cultural differences when some students are louder, more boisterous.
    • I believe some teachers pay more attention to the quiet students in class as a result of the Equity Challenge.
    • Other teachers mentioned that they make more of an effort to greet students as they enter the room and try to engage in regular conversations with them.
    • Some high school staff joined me in doing Action Research projects that will inform their future curriculum.
    5. Student Learning?
    • Students grasped that teachers were once teenagers because of the photo montage in the hallway.
    • Some students became leaders during the troubles in the fall, including kids who aren’t generally seen that way. But I can’t take credit for that.
    • Some students learned more about some aspects of rural life from the Tattler articles.
    • Students learned that some teachers could listen and be involved in discussions about difficult topics.
Lehman Alternative Community School
Diane Carruthers, Equity Mentor
The staff at LACS has made a commitment to have an “Equity Minute” at every staff meeting this year. The “minute” is usually more like 10-30 minutes and has led to some thoughtful conversations. Here are a few of the things we’ve done:
--20 (Self-) Critical Things I Will Do to be a More Equitable Educator—we read this and worked in small groups to discuss two things we already are doing and 2 things we will make a commitment to do.
--Class and Poverty Awareness Quiz—this was a fun, quick and interesting activity we did in staff meeting.
--Stages of Anti Poverty and Anti-Classist Consciousness—a survey each staff person completed and then discussed in small groups
--The Questions of Class, but Paul Gorski—and excellent article that calls into question some of the “conventional wisdom” of Ruby Payne’s work. We read and discussed.
--We are trying to start a “ Talking Circle” with Audrey Cooper’s help. We will begin with staff and then work towards including parents and caregivers.
--I am also working with a few interested staff to work with the survey, “How Family Friendly is Your School?” from the book, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family School Partnership. A small group will take the survey ourselves then work on adapting it to our school community. Our hope is that this will lead to a whole staff meeting on this topic.
--I am also working on starting a book group. I’m planning to use Herbert Kohl’s She Would Not Be Moved. This will convene in February.
--I’ve had a few meetings with our ESL teacher and another social studies teacher and the Coordinator of the South East Asia program at Cornell. We are planning a project directed at our Asia students, particularly girls. The focus of the group with be Asian culture, particularly women’s roles.
--I am also working with a small group of staff and our principal to revamp our portfolio system. My goal is to keep the work focused through the “equity lens” to make sure that as we revise our system, it supports the needs of students who are the least successful.

General Work Being Done...
As of 4/08
There is a lot going on at LACS. We are planning school-wide "infusion days" in June. We are asking teachers to tailor their lesson plans for these three days around topics related to social justice. In addition, we will be planning and offering workshops during 6th period all three days(committee and family group) presented by guests from the community. Culturally relevant/social justice lesson plans and resources are being made available to teachers in all disciplines.

We are also discussing adding a SIFEprogram (Students with Interrupted Education) at LACS. SIFE is a specific designation for students from refugee families, who in addition to having limited or no English skills, also have limited or no schooling of any kind due to their life’s circumstances.

The Equity Challenges are posted weekly and there are ongoing discussions on the issues the challenges raise.

We have designated an "equity minute" at each staff meeting this year. We use the time--usually about 10-20 minutes--to discuss an issue related to the district's goal to eliminate race, class and ability as predictors of success. This sometimes involves a short reading or a small group activity with additional reading as a follow up. Staff are actively encouraged to lead an "equity minute" based on their own experiences.

We are continuing to work on implementing the recommendations put forth by a senior team last year aimed at increasing diversity, improving success and meeting the needs of all students.

Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow, Equity Mentor

Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

We are holding weekly equity lunch meetings at NE.
We plan on passing this survey out to colleagues, families, and community members, discussing results, and thinking about what we can do to help create a welcoming and culturally responsive school environment for all.

12/13/07 - 2/1/08

At our last equity lunch we discussed the results of the survey, "How Family- Friendly is Your School?" from Beyond the Bake Sale, The Essential Guide to Family- School Partnerships.

The committee looked at over 20 responses from staff, NE family and community members. We got some valuable insights and feedback, and we outlined some of these ideas in a letter to our principal, Jeff Tomasik. He is very supportive and we look forward to implementing these suggestions.

I have posted a rubric from this book in the staff lounge assessing what kind of school are we at NE; A Partnership School, An Open Door School, A Come if We Call School, or a Fortress School? We will be discussing results and next steps at our next meeting.

Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Last week nine staff members met to discuss the survey,"How Family- Friendly is Your School?"
You can find the survey at __www.thenewpress.com__ and in the book, Beyond the Bake Sale, The Essential Guide to Family- School Partnerships.


12/13/07 - 2/1/08
I asked our librarian, Ben Eckley, to order the books by Dr. King suggested in Barry's January Equity challenge, and he is adding them to our professional collection.
At our last equity mentor meeting, Margi Beam, from Cayuga Heights recommended and article from NAECY called, Teaching Young Children to Resist Bias. I met with the Kindergarten team and Jeff Tomasik and asked that this article be included in out incoming kindergarten registration packet. We want to share this resource with the families that enter our school and hope that it sends a message that NE is a community dedicated to anti -bias work.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
  • See Comments above and below.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:
  • See Comments above and below.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:
  • I wrote a draft of a proposal for Technology and Inclusion at NE
    "As our district moves towards equity we recognize both that all students have a moral right to access to technology and that technology can be a effective tool in integrating students with special needs into the regular classroom.
    The goal of eliminating, race, class, and disability as predictors of success in ICSD would be effectively served at Northeast Elementary School with a technology initiative for the students currently in our two self-contained special education classrooms. The majority of these children belong to at least two of the targeted groups, and currently experience a deficit in access to technology both at home and at school. They and the district would benefit enormously from the use of currently available technology to increase their achievement in all educational areas and to enhance their participation in and contribution to regular classrooms."
    I shared the draft with Barry Derfel and Jeff Tomasik and invite others to share their thinking on this topic and technology and equity at their school.
Year-End Summary Reflection:
As equity mentor at Northeast I established an equity committee study group with members form every grade level. We met regularly to discuss how to create partnerships to achieve equity. We focused on welcoming families as a year long discussion and theme. Our equity bulletin board included a variety of information on how our school might support family involvement and thereby improve student achievement. During the year we filled out several surveys from the book, Beyond the Bake Sale
The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, by ANNE T. HENDERSON, KAREN L. MAPP, VIVIAN R. JOHNSON, AND DON DAVIES. We analyzed these results, and distinguished several goals to improve the physical environment of our school to better reflect out students and families, and to improve instructional practice to encourage family involvement. Some of achievements include adding clear multilingual signage in the front of the school, creating a family centered lobby space, and beginning the year with a welcome back to school picnic, with facilitated transportation and links to community networks. We also met in small groups at a faculty meeting how to welcome and include families targeted by the equity plan. We are using this list to plan programs for next year.





This page is intended to serve two purposes. One purpose is to make the work of the equity mentors transparent, so that families, communities, and colleagues can see what is being done in each school. The second purpose is to facilitate networking, so that people can find ways to work together to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success in the Ithaca City School District. Click here to read the job-description and expectations for equity mentors.

Scroll down to see the equity work that is being done in your school.

(Click on the mentor’s name to reach her/him by e-mail)
Enfield Elementary School

Susan Phillips
Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone
Lehman Alternative Community School

Diane Carruthers
South Hill Elementary School

Marianne Stuart
Boynton Middle School
Teresa Vossen
Beverly J. Martin Elementary School

Jacqueline Melton Scott
Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt
Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow
Belle Sherman Elementary School

Bill Van Slyke,
Fall Creek Elementary School
Mary Patte
Ellen Rowe
DeWitt Middle School

Monique Wallace
Dan McGrath
Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Cathy Gee
Margi Beem-Miller

Belle Sherman Elementary School
Bill Van Slyke, Equity Mentor
As an equity mentor I posted and distributed the weekly equity challenges, discussing them with staff as opportunities arose. Informal discussions with staff members also provided opportunities to discuss equity issues. I used staff meetings to apprise staff of opportunities for equity work, such as district level workshops. After meeting with K-1 and 2-3 teachers about things they would like to see, I facilitated a child study group
meeting, using Prospect Center descriptive processes to look at the work of a first grade student. Though sparsely attended I found it to be of values and plan on doing this more regularly next year. I participated in weekly Principal's Cabinet meetings with other grade level representatives as a means of finding out about potential equity issues as well as suggesting ways to include equity as part of staff meetings on various issues.
An example would be the discussions that took place around the issue of full community access to night time events at
school. I met with the director of Southside Community Center to discuss ways to strengthen the connection between Belle Sherman and Southside, which has been stronger in the past. This continues to be a goal area for future work, including possibly planning a school event at Southside. I really like the idea of a regular "Equity Minute" at staff meetings as a goal for next year.

Boynton Middle School
Teresa Vossen, Equity Mentor

Year-End Summary:
1. Participant Reactions:
I valued the time the equity mentors met as I got to hear what was happening in other buildings, which both challenged and validated some of the work I was engaged in. Unfortunately, the meeting time flew by and I always felt like I wanted more time to participate, even though I was tired at the end of the day.
Feedback from my reading group included, people looked forward to the conversations, and staff were interacting w/ groups they would not have otherwise.
2. Participant Learning:
I'm unable to articulate what I learned. But I do know I learned to be less anxious about my work as an equity mentor, and that I had to let myself do the best job I could do. I felt supported always knowing people were available for my questions. The Rethinking Schools journal was always a welcomed reading.
3. Organizational Change:
The book group helped to bring a group of people together who were interested in learning the same thing. This group allowed us to share ideas, challenge eachother, but more importantly, think about how 15 individuals could have an impact on educating about race in this building.
4. Participant Change:
Book group participants respond that the book group & discussions is helping them to look at things in a different way.
5. Student learning:
Being a mentor and working through my growing edge is helping me to discuss race with kids of color comfortably. And the kids are responding, and it's rewarding to have a genuine relationship with an adolescent who can trust and express herself safely.

Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt, Equity Mentor

November/December 2008

Work we have done to help us eliminate inequity:

  • On Superintendents Conf Day in October, I led a session for ESPs on ways to respond to incidences of bias, including developmentally appropriate language for educating "perpetrators", and steps for helping and reassuring the person who's been hurt. A week later, a classroom aide who'd attended the ESP workshop made sure that a racist remark made by a student was handled properly. I continue to hear positive feedback and examples of ways people are using the information.
  • I will be doing a similar workshop for ICSD teachers and ESPs on the January Supt. Conference Day.
  • Last year, staff on the Equity Committee did skits to teach students what “bias” means and what a Bias Free Zone might look like. This year, the Equity Committee organized an all-school Bias-Free Zone assembly that took place on Nov. 28. This time, students demonstrated their understanding of what a bias-free zone is, and taught students new to Caroline about it. We had a variety of performances including skits, songs, a video and an ABC book. Almost all grade levels were represented on stage and they did a great job.
Work we have done to help us eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
  • In addition to the above-mentioned Bias-Free Zone initiative, we are having conversations about how we can solicit feedback from parents of color regarding the ways our school is and isn’t meeting the needs of their children.
  • We have planned school-wide activities in observance of the MLK Jr.’s birthday.
  • I have collected posters that include pictures of students of color for classroom use and I am making them available to teachers fro use in their classrooms.

Work we have done to help us eliminate class as a predictor of student success:
  • At the October Superintendents Conf Day, I showed the Buffalo Hill Road film to all staff. I led the discussion afterwards. We had a very vigorous conversation, with people sharing their personal and professional experiences and opinions pretty freely. The hardest part was keeping away from a deficit model--we drift there so quickly.


Work we have done to help us eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:
  • See above
January - March 2008
Work we are doing in general...
We are using 3 questions to focus us on students' needs when we make decisions as a staff. We are encouraging teachers and parents (PTA, etc.) to use the same questions:

-How will this decision affect students of color?

-How will this decision affect students with disabilities?

-How will this decision affect students who are not economically privileged?

Barry will come to our next staff meeting to show us how to access culturally validating materials.
Year-End Summary:
Caroline School Development Plan Equity Goal Accomplishments 2007-08
The Equity Committee has been busy this year, helping to implement the 2007-08 School Development Plan Equity Goal. Other members of the Caroline school community have played a role as well. Among our accomplishments are the following:
  • Revised the Procedures for Responding to Incidences of Bias.
  • Provided a workshop for Caroline Educational Support Professionals on Responding to Incidences of Bias.
  • Showed the film Dream Street to staff and conducted a discussion about it.
  • Organized an assembly at which students taught those new to Caroline about our Bias-Free Zone through skits, songs, alphabet books and slide shows.
  • Organized a Martin Luther King Jr. Kindness and Justice Challenge and assembly.
  • Hosted Yowanda Wells, an African American singer who taught students about African music, storytelling and culture.
  • Hosted a return visit from Pastor Bruce Davenport of New Orleans, who has taught Caroline students about the after effects of Hurricane Katrina on the residents of New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.
  • Distributed articles and resources to staff.
  • Explored ways to get feedback from parents, particularly those of students from populations underrepresented at Caroline.
  • Wrote a new Equity Goal, with strategies, for the School Development Plan covering the next three years.
  • Held productive discussions at staff meetings regarding the Equity SDP and the direction we want to go as a school.


Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Kathy Gee and Margi Beem-Miller, Equity Mentors

Work we have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We started off the year as equity mentors during the first Superintendent's conference day by leading a brainstorm with the staff. We had them divide themselves into six groups with each group focusing on one of the board's equity priorities. Groups then wrote ideas of things to do in our building to help meet these priorites. They wrote on index cards and we posted their ideas on six big sheets of paper, one for each priority. Groups shared back some of their ideas. We then used these ideas to help us infuse equity priorities into our School Development plan. We also typed up the ideas and distributed the list to each staff member in the building.

As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.


Work we have done to help staff eliminate inequity
:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
See Above


Work we have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success
:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We have also had two meetings of our reading group that is studying the book Young, Gifted and Black. There are fifteen people who are reading and discussing the book including our Principal Dr. James. The discussions have been thought provoking and sometimes challenging!

As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.


Work we have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
As a group we are also trying to think about ways to take some action steps in our building . We are working on helping to elminate both race and class as a predictor of student success, as well as to help staff understand the causes of inequity. A big issue continues to be access to the school for families who live far away and don't have transportation.
Work we have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

General Work Being Done...
January - March:
At Cayuga Heights we have been working with a group of 8 to 10 teachers who have been reading the book Young, Gifted and Black. We meet monthly and discuss quotes from the book suggested by the equity mentors and the group members. We've also spent time discussing equity challenges, both in the monthly reading group and for 10 minutes at each staff meeting.

During a staff meeting in January we worked with our Principal, Dr. Claudette James, to facilitate a discussion/reflection session following the viewing of the film: The Shadow of Hate: A History of Intolerance in America . The last part of the written self reflection involved asking staff members to write down something they would commit to doing as a way to work towards elminiating bias and discriminatory behavior. There will be an oportunity for further discussion of people's reaction to the film at the next reading group meeting.

We are also working on trying to get a bulleting board for equity related postings. We are also working on trying to get transportation for families to evening and after school events at our school. (Margi Beem-Miller & Cathy Gee)
As of 4/08
We have continued to meet with our reading group at Cayuga Hts. Elementary School. We read Part lll Acheiveing in Post-Civil Rights America: The outline of a theory in the book Young, Gifted and Black. We discussed implications for practice and possible action steps. We spent a long time discussing how we can create counter narratives for our African American students and the practical implications of holding high expectations for all students regardless of race, class and disability. The group will continue to meet in April where we will finish the last section of the book Young, Gifted and Black as well as continue to discuss the practical applications of creating counter narratives for African American students, holding high expectations for African American students, becoming culturally aware/informed and utilizing community resources.
Year-End Summary - Five Level Analysis:
1. Participant Reactions (Do they like it------ Value it?)
Here are some quotes that members of our CHES Equity Reading Group wrote on their final reflection sheets:
  • “ being a member of the equity reading group raised my awareness and served to keep equity issues closer to the front of my consciousness”
  • “…though there is a time commitment to joining, I liked doing the group book read; I liked getting together and hearing others’ interpretations of the material…”
  • “ …group discussions were interesting, informative and valuable.”
  • “..discussions were lively and actually helped build a community within a community..”
From the whole staff reflection sheets:
“ I really liked the equity challenges.”

2. Participant Learning (What did they learn?)
Here are some further reflections from the surveys about what the participants learned as a result of the equity work at CHES.
  • One participant stated “I have tried to tease out the effects of race vs. the effects of poverty on academic performance”.
  • Another teacher said, “I continued to make kids aware of racial/gender/class challenges and stereotypes.”
  • Another teacher said, “Awareness and expansion of display materials. Direct addressing of inequity problems with the whole class not just with the students involved.”

3. Organizational change (what changes did your work cause in the organization organizations can be district, school, community, departments, teams, your organizations, book groups, equity committees, etc.)
  • From reading people’s reflections on the equity work, I sensed a renewed commitment among CHES staff to make equity a priority by trying harder to reach out to EVERY parent/caregiver, even when it is more difficult to get in touch.
  • In addition, people in the Equity Reading group decided that it would be important to hold regular school wide assemblies to give children a chance to shine in non-academic ways, so that each child can share their own particular talent, instead of just always holding school wide gatherings that recognize the same kids for their academic achievements.
  • This year, our Principal, Dr. James made a commitment to have five to 10 minutes set aside each Staff meeting for “equity minutes”. She also submitted items to the PTA newsletter for parents to read.
  • In the beginning of the year, the co-equity mentors facilitated a session at Superintendent’s Conference Day where all CHES staff members worked together in small groups to integrate the school board’s six equity priorities into our School Wide Development plan.
4. Participant Change (What changes did your work cause in the organization- organization can be district, school, community, departments, teams, your organizations, e.g. book groups, equity committees, etc?)
In reviewing the reaction sheets, one teacher stated that she used some of the Second Step lessons that she did not use last year. She “intends to continue class program of presenter’s with disabilities. Another teacher said that the equity work helped her “realize how important and fair ‘high expectations’ are for all”. The idea of holding high expectations for all students was something the participants of the reading group felt they could implement right away as a strategy to promote equity among students. Additionally, a participant said that she “reached out to families that don’t typically don’t respond to school requests in paper form”. She “took advantage of times when the parents were in the building to have an ‘informal’ conference about their child”.
5. Student learning (What did student’s learn as a result of your work?)
  • In examining what student’s learned as a result of our equity work one teacher remarked that in reaching out to parents by having ‘informal’ conferences she found that her relationships with the parents was much more positive and in the end the families worked more with their children to support academics. One child in particular made significant gains when the parents supported the school curriculum with activities she provided.
  • In addition when we compiled the responses to our survey overwhelmingly participants said they had become more self-aware. In raising their own awareness they became more conscious of their interactions with their students as well as how their student’s treat each other. Ultimately, by raising their own awareness they became more conscious of how race, disability and class affect student performance.
DeWitt Middle School
Monique Wallace, Dan McGrath, Equity Mentors

We will finish our book group on Thursday, March 6, from 4-6. We will meet in the building and our last book is Learning Power Organizing for Education and Justice.

Dan and I plan to start reading articles with the group. We are looking for ones about cultrually responsive schools.
Enfield Elementary School
Susan Phillips, Equity Mentor

Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have had many conversations with colleagues and students regarding stereotypes, recognizing the dominant culture's oppressive power, bullying (among people of all ages), and the meanings of equity, racism, sexism, and classism.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have become active with Positively Enfield, a group of staff interested in building a strong community that includes all staff, students and their families. This year we have modified the mission statement of the group to include a commitment to welcoming all families into the community and educating through positive feedback and reliance on student (and staff) strengths.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
I have participated on the Enfield Multicultural Committee which has chosen a focus this year on providing counter narrative examples for African American students. Our goals are:
  • to find resources that expand on the already-prescribed curriculum at each grade level to provide strong authentic examples of African American scholars, scientists and artists- this requires research on our group's part!
  • provide more African American speakers, tutors and classroom volunteers to Enfield students who model academic skills (i.e. not just great athletes and talented Hip Hop dancers)
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

October 1, 2007 – January 4, 2008

Year-End Summary:
As a new equity mentor at Enfield Elementary, and a new permanent staff member, much of my work was based on getting to know the current discourse on race and equity in this
school community. Another large part was helping others to understand my ideas and position on issues of race and equity as a new part of the staff. Equity Challenges were
posted and distributed to all members of the staff. While only a small amount of feedback was given to me on these challenges, the informal conversations and check-ins with
individuals in their classrooms or the staff as a whole in staff meetings were positive, yet unspecific. An effort was made to involve ESP staff through a reading group, which was unattended, however, all of the articles provided in the staff room were taken. The Multicultural Committee is still involved in providing resources that tie directly to
existing curriculum that provide a counter narrative of African Americans.

The staff at Enfield is remarkable caring and sensitive toward the predominantly white rural population of the school. As a fifth grade teacher (for the first time) my thoughts have tended more toward teaching teachers and students about being white and understanding the societal privilege, and duty to change it, that entails. I have initiated many discussions with fifth graders and their families regarding their open anxiety toward middle school and the "racial issues" that have occurred there. Many of these discussions, especially among students, have centered on transferring their "textbook" knowledge of stereotypes- a curricular focus in most grades- to real world applications. We have discussed their notions of "downtown kids" and we have considered how others perceive them as "country kids." These discussions have been gritty and sometimes painful for students; they are frustrated with their own prejudices and fears, but some are showing glimmers of understanding about why they and their families see things the way that they do. They don't know how to change, but have recognized that they have a role in it. This outcome to me is dramatic and yet, minimal.

I have shared these discussions with colleagues and have brainstormed how real world skills and understanding can come from such seemingly distant topics as the study of Africa and the Civil Rights movement. How can we help families as well as their children approach the middle school experience (which to them means mixing with the "downtown kids") with open hearts and minds so they can be effective learners, and eventually, productive citizens of the world.

The greatest changes have been for me this year: beginning to understand the staff, families and community of Enfield School, discovering the particular needs of this particular community in understanding and eliminating race and class as predictors of success, and broadening my own knowledge through reading, teaching and listening.


Fall Creek Elementary School
Mary Patte and Ellen Rowe, Equity Mentors

(Organized by the equity plan priorities)
Work we have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:
12/3/07 - 12/13/07
We have talked to the staff about the Equity Report Card and we are in the process of getting copies for the staff to look at. We are also talking with Karen Keller about trying to make an Equity Report Card for Fall Creek. We are also working on including equity, student achievement, and early interventions as part of our School Development Plan.

Work we have done to help staff eliminate inequity
:
2/3/07 - 12/13/07

We have had many one-on-one discussions with staff members. We have been part of PTA discussions about reaching out to families that do not feel connected to the school.

Organized by the 2007 - 2010 Equity Priority Goals
12/13/07 - 1/10/07
Curriculum - At our staff meetings we have discussed our social emotional curriculum - especially Second Steps and
Responsive Classroom. Karen Keller is planning a survey to see what social emotional curriculum each teacher is using
and also to see what teachers feel they need in terms of staff development in relation to our social emotional curriculum. Our social emotional curriculum will also be part of our School Development Plan.

Family Community Advocacy and Involvement - Mary Patte, as the Family Liaison and Ellen and Mary, as the Equity Mentors have had many discussions with staff about communication with all families - especially families that are not usually
involved in the school.

Supplemental Programs - At staff meetings, we have had discussions about collecting data to make an Equity Report
Card for Fall Creek. We are also discussing what staff development we need to support us in building on students' strengths and working with students to help to close the equity gap at Fall Creek. This will also be part of our School Developement Plan.

Targeted Academic Support - Through staff discussions, plans for early invervention, and plans for staff
development we are working together as a staff to plan for targeted academic support and this will be the focus of our School Developement Plan.
Other Thoughts:
In our role as Equity Mentors we:
  • Are constantly bringing up equity during discussions at
    staff meetings and challenging the staff to think in terms
    of equity.
  • Are communicating with all staff about the Equity Challenges
    - discussing the challenges at staff meetings and with
    individual staff members. (At times we tweak the challenge
    to apply more to our needs at Fall Creek.)
  • Are continually talking with staff members about student
    needs and communication with families.
Year-End Summary Reflection:
Equity has been an important part of many conversations and much planning at Fall Creek. Equity has been part of Assembly and Arts planning discussions, equity is an integral part of our School Development Plan, equity is at the forefront of staff meeting discussions, and parents are discussing how to make Fall Creek more equitable and the PTA is very committed to this.
The area that we have worked the hardest on is making all families feel welcome at Fall Creek. We have reached out to all families for Curriculum Night, parent conferences, evening events, and the new kindergarten parent meeting. We have also given everyone on the staff a copy of Culturally Responsive Parent Involvement.
We are hoping to build on this next year - including touching base with teachers individually and starting a book group around the book "Creating Welcoming Schools."
Everyone loved the "Second Steps" program presented by ACS. In some classes, Fall Creek students then made up their own skits about getting along and valuing each other.
We would also like to facilitate having the staff generate our own "equity challenges" for next year.

Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone, Equity Mentor

IHS Reading Group Blog


Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

Discussions with individual teachers particularly about refugee student issues.
Secondary Literacy Academy day-long workshop which focused on a great book about young black males and literacy.
Also day-long reading teacher meeting which focused on Catch-up growth for all students and the Family Reading
Partnership: Ways we can change things for students who are not reading at grade level.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Participation in the district secondary literacy group, formerly known as “ Literacy Academy”
Promoting the Equity Challenge more effusively. Posting it in more places. And I am getting more responses-all positive!
Meetings and workshops
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
I have joined a new staff group about Healing re: the recent tensions at the high school; we are trying several ideas to develop more of a sense of community.
Reading books about the issue.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Facilitate the Affirming Rural Youth group at our high school.
Participant in the Affirming Rural Youth district group.
We are working on several initiatives, especially concerning transportation to after school/evening
events for students and families.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
I talk with other staff about Autism and emotional disability. I have studied these topics extensively and have a lot of experience with people who have these disabilities.

General Work Being Done...
1/31/08 - 3/28/08

Book Club: Nickled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

The first meeting of our Book Club for Equity is this Friday, 4-5:30 at ABC cafe in collegetown.

We will distribute the first book (Thank you Kim for buying them), Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich


Meeting Friday, 2/29. ABC cafe in Collegetown. 4-5:30

The book will be distributed at this meeting (Thanks for providing them Kim!)

WE will decide when and where for next month's meeting.

Next book probably will be: Young Gifted and Black

(if you have copies in your building that we can borrow, that would be great

Open to any and all, tell people at your buildings


Diversity Day

Planning will start on 3/14 Superintendent' Conference Day

The hope is to organize a whole day of workshops, performances for students to attend

Any suggestions are most welcome


Affirming Rural Students

The district group meets at the high school once a month.

We are discussing equity in transportation.

Also, trying to institute or re-institute classes that are career oriented. Outlying school districts still have programs for agriculture, engines, medical technology. Why can't we?

The Tattler, school newspaper, has published writing from rural students in the last two issues: one about hunting and one about mod-bogging (riding trucks off road) which have been very well received by the community
.
Year-End Evaluation using Guskey’s Five Levels:
  1. Do participants like/value my work as Equity Mentor?
    • I received a lot of positive feedback about the Book Group for Equity. Teachers appreciated the time to connect with each other and share about topics of race, class, disability. Even teachers and para-professionals who could not attend the meetings requested books and were enthusiastic.
    • I also formed a Social Committee with a few other teachers to respond to the lack of community/connection among staff. We wanted to provide a model for students of how people who are different can get along. We had a few successful projects: displaying teen photos of staff, hosting a staff breakfast and ice cream social. Staff appreciated these efforts.
    • Some teachers responded positively to the Equity Challenges and tried them.
    • During the conflicts in the fall, various teachers shared thoughts and emotions with me to help them deal with the issues.
    • Other staff looked to me for support when dealing with the refugee community because of my history and contacts.
    • I experienced some resistance to my efforts with the Special Ed department. I have offered to join forces with the teacher of the new Autism program in an effort to integrate those students more successfully into the high school and provide training for staff and students.
    2. Participant Learning?
    • Various teachers described learning they gained from the Equity Challenges. Some staff learned more about racism and poverty during our book groups. I deepened my own understanding of racism, history and impacts, in the Undoing Racism workshops.
    • In the different talk-backs I attended after Ordinary People presentations, teachers and students were gaining better understanding of the issues of discrimination.
    • More teachers recognized the literacy needs in the building: Science and math teachers as well as Humanities staff, shared ideas about teaching literacy in their curriculum area.
    3. Participant/Orginizational Change?
    • The biggest change is yet to be implemented: a Community Conference Day being planned for next year.
    • I have ideas for ways to mitigate the issues that occurred during the last days of classes-a more pro-active approach. I am concerned that many staff support the heavy-handed police model and it may need kid-glove treatment.
    • One success was getting articles in the Tattler by students who are not typical reporters and whose articles reflected a different life style than the middle class students’. Teachers, students and even community members were excited by his articles.
    • There has been some attempt to listen to students’ concerns but the students get the credit for that.
    • Different departments are investigating ways to teach literacy in their curriculum.
    • Staff groups met in Professional Learning Communities which included literacy coaches from the reading staff. Teachers shared ideas for incorporating literacy in their areas.
    4. Participant Change?
    • I’m not sure about this one. Perhaps some teachers are less likely to judge a student whose clothes and level of cleanliness do not match their expectations.
    • Perhaps teachers have a better grasp of the cultural differences when some students are louder, more boisterous.
    • I believe some teachers pay more attention to the quiet students in class as a result of the Equity Challenge.
    • Other teachers mentioned that they make more of an effort to greet students as they enter the room and try to engage in regular conversations with them.
    • Some high school staff joined me in doing Action Research projects that will inform their future curriculum.
    5. Student Learning?
    • Students grasped that teachers were once teenagers because of the photo montage in the hallway.
    • Some students became leaders during the troubles in the fall, including kids who aren’t generally seen that way. But I can’t take credit for that.
    • Some students learned more about some aspects of rural life from the Tattler articles.
    • Students learned that some teachers could listen and be involved in discussions about difficult topics.
Lehman Alternative Community School
Diane Carruthers, Equity Mentor
The staff at LACS has made a commitment to have an “Equity Minute” at every staff meeting this year. The “minute” is usually more like 10-30 minutes and has led to some thoughtful conversations. Here are a few of the things we’ve done:
--20 (Self-) Critical Things I Will Do to be a More Equitable Educator—we read this and worked in small groups to discuss two things we already are doing and 2 things we will make a commitment to do.
--Class and Poverty Awareness Quiz—this was a fun, quick and interesting activity we did in staff meeting.
--Stages of Anti Poverty and Anti-Classist Consciousness—a survey each staff person completed and then discussed in small groups
--The Questions of Class, but Paul Gorski—and excellent article that calls into question some of the “conventional wisdom” of Ruby Payne’s work. We read and discussed.
--We are trying to start a “ Talking Circle” with Audrey Cooper’s help. We will begin with staff and then work towards including parents and caregivers.
--I am also working with a few interested staff to work with the survey, “How Family Friendly is Your School?” from the book, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family School Partnership. A small group will take the survey ourselves then work on adapting it to our school community. Our hope is that this will lead to a whole staff meeting on this topic.
--I am also working on starting a book group. I’m planning to use Herbert Kohl’s She Would Not Be Moved. This will convene in February.
--I’ve had a few meetings with our ESL teacher and another social studies teacher and the Coordinator of the South East Asia program at Cornell. We are planning a project directed at our Asia students, particularly girls. The focus of the group with be Asian culture, particularly women’s roles.
--I am also working with a small group of staff and our principal to revamp our portfolio system. My goal is to keep the work focused through the “equity lens” to make sure that as we revise our system, it supports the needs of students who are the least successful.

General Work Being Done...
As of 4/08
There is a lot going on at LACS. We are planning school-wide "infusion days" in June. We are asking teachers to tailor their lesson plans for these three days around topics related to social justice. In addition, we will be planning and offering workshops during 6th period all three days(committee and family group) presented by guests from the community. Culturally relevant/social justice lesson plans and resources are being made available to teachers in all disciplines.

We are also discussing adding a SIFEprogram (Students with Interrupted Education) at LACS. SIFE is a specific designation for students from refugee families, who in addition to having limited or no English skills, also have limited or no schooling of any kind due to their life’s circumstances.

The Equity Challenges are posted weekly and there are ongoing discussions on the issues the challenges raise.

We have designated an "equity minute" at each staff meeting this year. We use the time--usually about 10-20 minutes--to discuss an issue related to the district's goal to eliminate race, class and ability as predictors of success. This sometimes involves a short reading or a small group activity with additional reading as a follow up. Staff are actively encouraged to lead an "equity minute" based on their own experiences.

We are continuing to work on implementing the recommendations put forth by a senior team last year aimed at increasing diversity, improving success and meeting the needs of all students.

Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow, Equity Mentor

Work I have done to help staff understand the causes of inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07

We are holding weekly equity lunch meetings at NE.
We plan on passing this survey out to colleagues, families, and community members, discussing results, and thinking about what we can do to help create a welcoming and culturally responsive school environment for all.

12/13/07 - 2/1/08

At our last equity lunch we discussed the results of the survey, "How Family- Friendly is Your School?" from Beyond the Bake Sale, The Essential Guide to Family- School Partnerships.

The committee looked at over 20 responses from staff, NE family and community members. We got some valuable insights and feedback, and we outlined some of these ideas in a letter to our principal, Jeff Tomasik. He is very supportive and we look forward to implementing these suggestions.

I have posted a rubric from this book in the staff lounge assessing what kind of school are we at NE; A Partnership School, An Open Door School, A Come if We Call School, or a Fortress School? We will be discussing results and next steps at our next meeting.

Work I have done to help staff eliminate inequity:

12/3/07 - 12/13/07
Last week nine staff members met to discuss the survey,"How Family- Friendly is Your School?"
You can find the survey at __www.thenewpress.com__ and in the book, Beyond the Bake Sale, The Essential Guide to Family- School Partnerships.


12/13/07 - 2/1/08
I asked our librarian, Ben Eckley, to order the books by Dr. King suggested in Barry's January Equity challenge, and he is adding them to our professional collection.
At our last equity mentor meeting, Margi Beam, from Cayuga Heights recommended and article from NAECY called, Teaching Young Children to Resist Bias. I met with the Kindergarten team and Jeff Tomasik and asked that this article be included in out incoming kindergarten registration packet. We want to share this resource with the families that enter our school and hope that it sends a message that NE is a community dedicated to anti -bias work.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate race as a predictor of student success:
  • See Comments above and below.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate class as a predictor of student success:
  • See Comments above and below.
Work I have done to help staff eliminate disability as a predictor of student success:
  • I wrote a draft of a proposal for Technology and Inclusion at NE
    "As our district moves towards equity we recognize both that all students have a moral right to access to technology and that technology can be a effective tool in integrating students with special needs into the regular classroom.
    The goal of eliminating, race, class, and disability as predictors of success in ICSD would be effectively served at Northeast Elementary School with a technology initiative for the students currently in our two self-contained special education classrooms. The majority of these children belong to at least two of the targeted groups, and currently experience a deficit in access to technology both at home and at school. They and the district would benefit enormously from the use of currently available technology to increase their achievement in all educational areas and to enhance their participation in and contribution to regular classrooms."
    I shared the draft with Barry Derfel and Jeff Tomasik and invite others to share their thinking on this topic and technology and equity at their school.
Year-End Summary Reflection:
As equity mentor at Northeast I established an equity committee study group with members form every grade level. We met regularly to discuss how to create partnerships to achieve equity. We focused on welcoming families as a year long discussion and theme. Our equity bulletin board included a variety of information on how our school might support family involvement and thereby improve student achievement. During the year we filled out several surveys from the book, Beyond the Bake Sale
The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, by ANNE T. HENDERSON, KAREN L. MAPP, VIVIAN R. JOHNSON, AND DON DAVIES. We analyzed these results, and distinguished several goals to improve the physical environment of our school to better reflect out students and families, and to improve instructional practice to encourage family involvement. Some of achievements include adding clear multilingual signage in the front of the school, creating a family centered lobby space, and beginning the year with a welcome back to school picnic, with facilitated transportation and links to community networks. We also met in small groups at a faculty meeting how to welcome and include families targeted by the equity plan. We are using this list to plan programs for next year.