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.
* To see what students will do as a result of our work, click here

*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
Beverly J. Martin Elementary School

Lisa Sahasrabudhe

Therese Araneo
Shannon Cockbill
Boynton Middle School
Teresa Vossen
Cathy Gee
DeWitt Middle School

Mary Baker
Joanne Church
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
South Hill Elementary School
Alice Ball
Amy Ginrich-Eckley
Cayuga Heights Elementary School

Belle Sherman Elementary School
Bill Van Slyke, Equity Mentor
As of 11/24/08
We had an assembly yesterday with the bus-drivers, and it was great.
We have a new principal at Belle Sherman, and I am happy to say that I feel like I have a principal that is an ally. One of the things we talked about with Jon Raible, is always asking the question in everything we do, “how will this decision impact black children?” I think it will be possible to start doing this again.
We will have another superintendent’s day and we’ll use a quote (like we did with Dave Lehman) and have people talk about them. We are switching to report cards, and that’s new, and people are thinking about equity in a few ways. Some know that there were problems with narratives, but are also seeing the possible problems with report cards. A parent was talking about the possible impact of losing the goals-setting conferences with families. So we will look into this.
I was talking with Sloan about book groups, and how we address issues like this week’s challenge. (Talk to your students about race…) I did a lot of work in the past with the Prospect Center on looking at children’s work, and I will continue that this year.
Also, we are looking about reconnecting with Southside in January or February. Sloan was talking about applying the ideas in the article on “Living Libraries,” where people come in and you can engage in conversation with a real person about themselves.

Beverly J. Martin Elementary School
Lisa Sahasrabudhe , Equity Mentor
As of 11/24/08
I don’t have a bulletin-board, so I have to get one. I put the challenges up everywhere. I don’t really know yet if everyone does them. On my team, we talk about them all the time. It is my hope to make that bigger. I really like Kari’s idea of lunches, so I am thinking about an equity tea. We don’t have many/any common times because our lunch schedule is unique. I am learning where there are “chunks of time,” and I will use these.
Since we are a SINI school, we have to do a lot of equity work. I am on the “action-team,” and we have been doing a lot of looking closely at data. All of the subgroups have to meet the benchmark in order to get off the SINI list. Our action team has been looking at this with Cheryl (from BOCES), and she can do amazing things with data. We’ve been doing this systematically, talking about what the data means, what we need to do about what it means. While I’m on the team I wear two hats, my educator hat and my equity mentor hat.
We also have a lot of staff development requirements because we are on SINI list. I suggested that we read Young, Gifted, and Black this year, and another teacher will actually facilitate this.
Teachers at the building love being there and don’t want to leave. But, it is hard to get them to talk about equity work, especially because they are tired.
As of 2/09/09
1. A book group is working on "Young Gifted and Black"
2. Many of our staff are involved ion the Pedro Noguera book group that is being run by Kim Fontana.
3. As a school we watched and had classroom-level discussions around the inaguration.
4. Barry and I have a meeting planned with the building principal to set up plans for the remainder of the year at the staff level.
5. Most teams are doing the challenge of the week.
6. I am planning to send out an email survey to see exactly how many staff are actually doing this.

Boynton Middle School

Teresa Vossen, Cathy Gee, Equity Mentors
As of 11/24/08
We'd like to finish Courageous Conversations from last year. We're suggesting offering this on Wednesday afternoons alternating with Staff Meetings.
We're also considering offering discussion of other readings, to include books and articles, maybe even a movie or 2. And as we see events happening in our community, we will forward that information to you &/or publicize it on the Equity Bulliten Board outside of Cathy's office.
In January we are doing our fifth annual, “Black History, What Does it Mean to Me?” event. In addition, we decided to do focus on four themes throughout the year. The first theme was farming and the second theme is athletics. Third and fourth quarter are science and environment.

I asked the principal for time at staff meeting, but he suggested that I do the Dave Lehman activity in the GAM meetings.. I am hoping that this will lead him to give us staff meeting time. I have negotiated time at our next superintendent’s day, which is focused on wellness. I shared that people who are affirmed feel well.

I read through Lesli Myers’ equity recommendations from the last board meeting and used that to try and find a way to push in some second steps work at our school.

As of 2/9/09
Check out our equity bulletin board:
external image boyntoneb.png
As of 2/9/09
The 5th annual Black History: What does it Mean to Me? Event, spearheaded by Dr. Susan Eschbach, took place on January 29th at Boynton Middle School. There were over 90 workshops offered to the students and the day resulted in the most staff participation in the history of the event. The day included a morning assembly which featured a student speaker, Jazz Ensemble, drummers, chants, the Assistant Principal Linda Myers and her sister Lesli Myers singing and then performing a skit as Rosa Parks. The day included five workshop slots for each student. There was also an afternoon assembly which included poets, dancers, singers and drummers. The students were given the opportunity to reflect on the day by writing about the event in their home bases by answering questions about Black History: What does it Mean to Me?
We also had our 2nd annual Wellness Day for the Feb 6 Superintendent Conference Day. We discussed wellness in relation to connections and community and thus equity. We discussed what we can do to take care of ourselves and what we can do as a school community to support each other. We presented a "Getting to Know You" exercise where the staff interviewed each other and participated in talking circles. The focus was to ask each other questions, hear each other's stories and to begin to build (or continue to) build relationships and a support network for each other. The premise of the exercise was to continue to sustain the wellness we focused on throughout the day and to continue to enhance support for one another in the hard work we do each day to ensure all students are taught equitably.
We are going to be starting our book group in March. We are going to continue reading Courageous Conversations and hopefully will have enough time to choose another book to read before the end of the school year.
Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt, Equity Mentor

As of 11/24/08
We’ve put together a protocol for what to do when there is an incident of bias. What steps do we take with the student who was hurt, the student who initiated it, family, and bystanders?
This year, on superintendent’s day, we had a panel come discuss their experiences. We had a few people of color and a white parent of a biracial student, share stories of their experiences. (Stel Whitehead, Kim Munson-Burke, Schelley Michelle Nunn, and Kirby Edmonds.) It helped us to hear people’s stories and moved us forward in our understanding. People were riveted by this panel, and now people want to do some more work. Everybody is in a different place. Now we will follow-up with in-house discussions.
Equity Committee meetings have dropped off this year, but we find other ways to do the work. At one of our December staff meetings, we are going to work with tech mentors to look at the PBS site “Race, the Power of an Illusion,” and allow folks opportunity to go deeper. The tech mentor is hoping that folks will be able to use the site, respond to it on a blog, and then maybe use it with students in their classrooms.

As of 5/1/09
April has been a busy month in terms of equity activity at Caroline:
  • Kirby Edmonds led two staff meetings. They focused on demographics and student performance data for Caroline, and how issues of race and class might affect student performance. The conversations, particularly at the first of these meetings, were very stimulating and thought-provoking. There was a lot of positive feedback. I wish I’d asked for some in writing.
  • I have continued providing support and coaching to some staff members dealing with bias-related matters.
  • The equity committee met with a teacher who asked for help in thinking through a thorny issue concerning a parent’s objections to the inclusive content of her teaching.
  • Third graders studied African culture. This is a third grade social studies requirement. Teachers helped students distinguish between their stereotypes of African countries and facts. Classroom, music and art teachers coordinated their efforts so students learned African songs and instruments and made Adinkra cloth from Ghana as they learned about Ghana culture and history. The unit culminated in an evening music performance during which they shared the stage with the Multicultural Chorus and the Ithaca Gay Men’s Chorus singing songs from Africa.
  • I will be meeting with the equity committee on May 18 to write our equity goal for next year’s School Development Plan.

Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Equity Mentors not yet determined.
As of 3/1/09
Stephanie Jensen has agreed to post the challenges of the week throughout the building.

DeWitt Middle School
Joanne Church, Mary Baker, Equity Mentors

As of 11/24/08
Here is our bulletin board for November. This presents a broad range of American Indian perspectives about the celebration of Thanksgiving.
external image dewitt%201%20new%20version.png external image dewitt2%20new%20version.png
We have been doing the challenges of the week, and will continue to do those. We’ve been thinking about reading articles with staff, and using excerpts from the “Everyday Antiracism” book. Also, the “I don’t see color I just see kids,” and “On spotlighting in the classroom…when it’s appropriate to point out identity and when it’s not, when it would be ignoring…etc.

We are in the process of doing Richard Wright work in conjunction with Eric Acree at Cornell. There will be a symposium this spring and opportunities for staff development. I am thinking that we could take some excerpts from the Richard Wright book I just got, and also that maybe teachers could do units on Richard Wright.
A student was holding a copy of “The Bully” and she told me “you need to get these for me. I looked into it, and there is a whole series. They are high interest, easy readability, and are appropriate without being preachy. I ordered a whole bunch, and these books are flying out of the library.
I also found “Bullying in schools, what you need to know.” This is directed towards students and it has a three-prong approach: people who bully, people who are bullied, and people who see bullying. It comes with discussion questions, etc. I want to do this with my homebase.
The summer book project I am involved in, getting students free books and bus passes, so they can get to the library. I am doing a connected project with ESOL families.
To continue with our book group, where Monique left off last year, we had a book we had not gotten to. Monique really wanted us to keep this work going. We plan to read “The Color of Wealth” this year, in addition to a number of articles.

I am a board member for family reading partnership. As a person who sees equity in every part of my life, I spoke with the board and shared a list of books they should think about putting out for families to receive. I know that Brigid is thinking about a book read for kids, and what that book will be.
I have been involved in the film series at the library (“Race, the Power of an Illusion”) and found out that Joe Exantus has a copy of this. I am wondering if Joe would be willing to facilitate a discussion group with this series, either the whole staff, or through PLC’s.
DeWitt has been making a conscious effort to be out in the community to portray itself in a way that is different than is portrayed in the local media. Last night we were out at GIAC to meet with families who have, for whatever reasons, not usually come to our “bring your family to school night.” We are also going to Brooktondale Community Center and at West Village. We are purposely not going into the schools, but to be in the communities. There were not a lot of families there, but that’s alright. We went through a mini “bring your family to school night,” including a video which just had done about our school. It presents information about our physical space, what goes on in our school, a new student getting off the bus and being introduced to the school. We have co-student council chairs and two students on the superintendent’s advisory committee, and we invite these students to come with us. We are trying to encourage as many teachers as we can to go on the road with us. We want families to really see who teachers are, since they may not come here, so that our sense of belonging (from the Circle of Courage program) can really be developed.
We have an equity bulletin board, and I post a lot of resources up there.
I am participating in the “Chaos or Community” lecture series at IC. It is mostly a student audience. It is interesting, and I am recruiting young MLK Scholars to do a mentoring program here with some of our students. I haven’t yet framed it in a way that they are going to be helpful to us, but next week I am going to meet with a group of these young women to figure out how they can do this. Perhaps they will be able to do some after school tutoring as well.
Barry and Joanne will work on creating a community calendar that is linked to the equity website.
Enfield Elementary School
Susan Phillips, Equity Mentor
As of 11/24/08
I am going to do a book group with families and teachers, and do this in the evenings and after school. Again, this does not address race specifically, so I need to work this into it. But the people in our school have to understand how race impacts the few students of color, but also help people see the connection between the bullying that goes on in our school and the fear and issues that come up with students moving to middle school.
Last year in fourth grade we held some all-grade meetings to discuss bullying. This year we are continuing to work with these students as fifth graders, talking about bullying, power dynamics, bystanders, and intervention strategies, etc. We are doing this in a way that does not target the bullies. I have been working with our social worker, Sheila, on this. She also works with all staff around second steps, too.
We have an extended-day program, and I also teach in this. Half of the time is schoolwork focused, and half on enrichment. One of the issues is that this is not supposed to be a homework club, but a time where actual instruction is given. I have been working with teachers to make this not a remedial model, but to use an enrichment model to build study skills, speaking skills, etc. that is not paper and pencil-based. The attitude toward extended day has changed, and now lots of people want to participate.
I am doing the equity challenges, and that’s a mixed bag. Last year I rarely had any time at staff meetings, but this year I have more time and people seem to respond. I ask people to write down on the chart paper any response they got. It can be kind of anonymous, but allows us to keep track over time.
At my goals conference, the principal scheduled two half-hour reads with my staff.
On the classroom-level, I have a library that is being used pretty well by students and families. I am trying to find more reading options for folks. I am buying them and collecting them myself. The articles that we get, I copy them and keep in a binder so that they are available. I also make copies of articles and leave them in the staff room, and folks take them, even if they don’t come to a meeting to discuss them.

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

As of 11/24/08
Last year staff asked us to create our own challenges of the week, so we asked staff to share ideas and together have been coming up with our own. These focus on weekly newsletters, family conferences, getting folks rides to school, choosing affirming materials (i.e. more than just celebrating differences.)
The staff said they want a book group on Young, Gifted, and Black. Twelve books have been picked up. We had our first discussion, on the first section of part one, and it was amazing. Our plan was to read part two for next time, but people said “we want to read more – part three will help us think about what to do.”
We do have an equity bulletin board.
We did our school improvement plan a couple of weeks ago, and we added in a plan to reduce students who are tardy, since we have about 15% students who are tardy. Also part of the new plan is improving the general climate of the school and decreasing bullying.
As of May, 2009
  • Teachers are using literature (with assistance from the FC librarian) to generate discussions about race –
    • Freedom Summer – Deborah Wiles
    • More Than Anything Else – Marie Bradby
    • Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys – Elizabeth Howard
  • The social worker at FC is collaborating with teachers to discuss race – especially in the 3 rd and 4 th grades.
  • The 3 rd and 4 th grade teachers are looking at historical events from multiple perspectives.
  • The 4 th grade classes have been reading biographies which have lead to discussions about race.
  • The 4 th grade classes have explored the diversity among the class, marked on a map to show everyone’s background, and celebrated the diversity of the class.
  • One of the 4 th grade classes has a student from Tibet and the parents have shared a lot with the class about Tibet.
  • The 3 rd grade classes have been learning about Africa and following one of the 3 rd grade teacher’s journeys to Ethiopia to adopt a little girl.
  • The 4 th grade classes have been learning about the Revolutionary War from multiple perspectives.
  • The intermediate classes have been reading and discussing -
    • Mississippi Morning by Ruth Vander Zee
    • Chains by Laurie Halse
    • Let’s Talk About Race

Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone, Equity Mentor

IHS Reading Group Blog

As of 11/24/08
We are still planning for an HIS Community Conference Day-most likely to happen in the fall of 2009. Our hope is for a large variety of presentations, performances, and interactive activities from the local community, colleges, parents, staff, and students. We want to be more of a community through sharing our stories. Any suggestions are most welcome.
We have been doing Action Research for the past few years, centered on Equity. One project was to see if concerted, collaborative effort would enable a student to succeed where he had previously failed. Another project studied the homework completion rate when students were given time to start the assignment in class. For every 5 minutes of time in class, there was a 10% increase in homework completion. Another project involved helping students in Special Education classes feel more empowered and connected to their learning, their school, and their goals.
One class of English students attended a play in Syracuse last spring: a hip-hop version of A Comedy of Errors.
We have a book group for Equity that meets monthly. This year we will start with Creating Welcoming Schools and plan to target the many new staff with our invitations to join. Last year we read Young, Gifted, and Black and Nickle and Dimed.
Several staff from the high school are participating in the Secondary Literacy Collaborative, chaired by Lee Ginethal. There are exciting connections with the technology mentor and a lot of community representation to improve literacy in the district.
I am organizing monthly book packing events to send books to incarcerated people through Prison Express of Alternatives Library at Cornell. Last month, several of the volunteer packers were from a black fraternity and they were interested in activities at the high school.
We are trying to connect with the new Oasis program at our school. It is a separate Special Ed program for students on the autism spectrum. We want to see more understanding and relationships between those students and the general population.
I have participated with Re-Thinking Schools in Global Exchange trips for teachers to visit other countries and see the exciting grassroots change that they are doing to change their communities and promote social justice.

As of 2/9/09
The Student Conference Day planning continues—a few dedicated staff members meet every Tuesday. We have talked and answered questions at staff meetings and scheduled other after school meetings. Now we have a BLOG! Check it out at
People who come to the blog can fill out a survey about what they know about the day and how favorable they are. Several hundred students filled out a survey of the type of presentations they would be interested in. Now the planners are collating that information and beginning to suggest names and agencies to contact.
There is an Equity Bulletin Board with information on it but it seems that most high school staff and students communicate electronically for most of their input so we’re not sure how much it gets noticed.
The high school started a brand new initiative this week, Wednesday, February 11th. Students will meet in groups for a variety of enrichment activities. Teachers who are not supervising will have the time to meet in their Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).
One of the activities is about the effect of Barak Obama’s election and many classes focused on the election and inauguration during those days.
Plans are underway for some type of end of school days (last day of classes in June) that brings closure and recognizes achievement and connections.
Finally, the Academic Intervention Services (AIS) is planning to use innovative approaches for teaching reading so that students with literacy needs can be successful. Teachers will visit other schools and be trained to use the program that has already proven to improve student reading and help students to feel in charge and successful of their own learning.

Lehman Alternative Community School
Therese Araneo, Shannon Cockbill, Equity Mentors
As of 11/24/08
We are sharing the challenge of the week. We are having conversations around the challenges. Some people are really interested in the work we engage in, but also dig their heels in. We do empower students well at our school, but the issue is who gets empowered and who does not.
The growing edge comes to mind. A lot of our staff has been doing this work, so want to know what next. I am planning to ask staff what they are interested in, rather than coming up with these ideas myself.
We are in the noticing stage. We are documenting privilege. We have a bulletin board and are putting information up for people to consider.

On our listserv, I sent out a feeler to our faculty about doing “Courageous Conversations on Race.” I got good response, and will follow-up with mlp and a book order.
We don’t have lots of teachers of color, so we may try a Talking Circle or some other way for students to get together and process things in a safe environment.
We have an equalizing process, for deciding how to deal with over-enrolled and under-enrolled courses. Again, the anti-racism lens has provided important insights into this process, such as helping us consider “what gets decided, who gets to decide, and how to untangle what’s important for the program as compared to what’s important for you?”
As of 2/09/09
We've established a book group; we're currently reading "Courageous Conversations" by Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton.
Our most recent SC Day was organized around success for all students. It included looking at data on success rates of LACS HS students, finding commonalities in what made the difference for our own "success stories," and a text-based discussion.
Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow, Equity Mentor
September 09:

We had our Welcome Back to School Dinner at NE last Friday. This event was organized by the equity committee from our discussion on how to make our school more welcoming to all families. We worked on issues like school/ home communication, community links, transportation, links to academic achievement, and welcoming new families. We had a huge turn out despite the rain. Cal Walker and John Simon provided entertainment. The Family Reading Partnership and Brigid Hubberman provided literacy activities , and Peggy Robinson's family liason fund paid for pizza, beverages, welcome back to school cakes, and entertainment. Classrooms made desserts and posters for the event. Jeff Tomasik, Peggy, and several staff members worked really hard on set up and tear down. It was a great success! Families I spoke to were really appreciative and happy to have this opportunity to get to know each other and our school.

We have some nice photos that are now hanging in the hallway, along with a hopes and dreams tree for the year that was generated by families during the event.

external image northeast%20new%20version.png
As of 11/24/08
We made concrete changes to our open-house with lots of outreach, transportation, etc. There was a huge turnout and it rained and poured and we all moved into the gym and it was very successful. Families really had an opportunity to connect to one another. A lot of international families who had just moved here said that it was great.
Using today’s facilitation, I am thinking that maybe I ought to get our committee together and ask them what they want to do. But, I am also thinking about the article that Dave Lehman gave us, and how we could do that with our school.
We continue to have our equity lunches, and are doing different activities at these.

As of 2/09/98
The following letter home to families describes our most recent initiative:
Bright Red Bookshelf for Northeast Lobby

Greetings Northeast:

This is a note from the Northeast Equity Committee in collaboration with The Family Reading Partnership.

A while ago the NE Equity Committee proposed the idea of having a Family Reading Partnership Bright Red Bookshelf in
the lobby of the school. Its placement there would provide a place where all children could select books on a regular basis to keep as their own. We know that many children in our building are fortunate to have very extensive libraries in their homes, but this is
not true for all of our families. The Committee hopes that the presence of the Bright Red Bookshelf will be one more way to create an environment of equity within our school community.

Northeast will be the first school to house a Bookshelf. They are currently found in many locations around the county, including DSS, Wegmans, etc., and are maintained by the Family Reading Partnership. In our proposal to FRP to provide Bright Red Bookshelf services within our building the Committee has agreed to purchase the bookshelf, collect books within the building, clean and repair them as needed, label them, and then place them on the Bright Red Bookshelf.

To cover (at least partially) the cost of the bookshelf and in addition attempt to foster a school wide sense of ownership for this project we plan to have a..
CAN & BOTTLE DRIVE January 20 - 23

Please support this project by spreading the word and encouraging your children to bring in deposit cans & bottles. There will be a large box in the front hall. Cash donations will also be gratefully accepted!

If you have any questions or suggestions, or would like more information, please see the third grade teachers, Kari Krakow, or Ben Eckley.
As of 4/1/09
Our equity committee met with the PTA about the book fair and asked them if we could start using the bookbucks option used by some other schools, so that all our families could purchase books. The PTA agreed and this month NE sent bookbuck certificates to families on free and reduced lunch. Also, the equity committee has been meeting and sharing book recommendations. We are making a bibliography of these suggestions that will be given to all NE staff and copies will be available in the NE library. Our librarian, Ben Eckley is also working to purchase some of the recommended books on this list that we don't have yet.
Click here to see Northeast Equity Committee book suggestions.
South Hill Elementary School
Alice Ball and Amy Gingrich-Eckley, Equity Mentors

As of 11/24/08
We have been doing a lot with responsive classroom, and it’s connected but it’s not explicit. I need to do personal work as staff developers for equity. We’ve talked a lot about white privilege, and should white students be thinking about this and talking about this. We talked about management stuff, like book groups, discussion groups, etc. We need to do some feelers to see what people would respond to doing.
We are going to try to use one of those protocols with the Kiri Davis “youtube” video.