As the Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity in the ICSD, I collaborated with the equity mentors to promote building-based professional development to support the effort to eliminate race, class, and disability as predictors of student success.


Click to See: Intended Student Outcomes


Equity Mentor posting 07 08.pdf

Equity Mentor Work '08 - '09
Equity Mentor Work '07 - '08
Equity Mentor Work '06 - '07


2009 - 2010
(Click on the mentor’s name to reach her/him by e-mail)
Enfield Elementary School

Susan Phillips - Margaret Salvato
LACS

Therese Araneo
Beverly J. Martin Elementary School

Lisa Sahasrabudhe
Ithaca High School

Joey Cardamone - Agnes Ward
Boynton Middle School
Karen Anagnost - 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
Deborah Jordan - Edna Brown


Equity Mentor Meeting Schedule: 10/19/09, 11/2/09, 12/7/09, 1/11/10, 2/08/10, 3/15/10, 4/26/10, 5/17/10, 6/7/10


As a result of 2009 - 2010 budget cuts, the position of Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity was eliminated. For this reason, much of the year-end assessment remains incomplete, as this work was typically written and edited after the school year had ended.
Belle Sherman Elementary School
Bill Van Slyke, Equity Mentor


Beverly J. Martin Elementary School
Lisa Sahasrabudhe, Equity Mentor


Boynton Middle School
Karen Anagnost , Cathy Gee, Equity Mentors


Caroline Elementary School
Wendy Wallitt, Equity Mentor

Participant Reactions: To what extent did participants like your work? What did they like best? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.
  • Equity Committee members have often expressed appreciation for my taking on the leadership of the committee, keeping meetings, agendas, initiatives and follow-up flowing. Committee participation was fairly strong despite busy schedules.
  • Following the workshop I gave on Superintendents Conference Day, one participant in particular was extremely enthusiastic and vocal about the new insights he gained. He is a bus driver who went to the trouble of stopping in to tell Alaine Troisi how much he learned from my workshop. We continue to have conversations about intervening in incidences of bias when we run into one another. I feel that I provided participants with validation for some of the ways they were handling problems, while offering new awareness, strategies and cautions for future use.
  • When a bias incident occurred recently at Caroline, one of the teachers who I coached through the response process said “Thank you for having this [typed protocol] handy. It was good to have everything in writing because I had a class to teach and it made it fast.” She added that it helped her figure out what she had to do right way and what could be done later.
  • Students, especially Sharon Nelson’s and my third graders, have demonstrated a thirst for anti-bias conversation. One example is the occasions on which I read to them from the ADL publication What Would You Do? Students begged me to go on to each of the next stories and participated in thoughtful discussion and written reflections.

Participant Learning: What did participants learn? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.
  • Participants learned how to evaluate whether an incident falls into the category of a bias incident or not; how to talk to students about racism, homophobia and sexism in a developmentally appropriate manner; how to be proactive in teaching students about bias; specific steps to follow when a bias incident has occurred; and where to find additional resources when needed.
  • I was happy when I described to a teacher what I had done in response to a bias incident in her classroom on a day she was out, and she reminded me of a step I had left out!
  • I don’t have specific quotes from adult learners. I haven’t seen participant evaluations from my Supt Conference Day workshop and haven’t documented specific quotes from Caroline staff comments from this year.
  • Organization Impact : What are the impacts of your work on the organization? Please provide analysis.
  • I have helped create an environment at Caroline where anti-racist/anti-bias conversation among staff and students are common and decisions are often, but not always, evaluated through an anti-bias lens.
  • Protocols are in place at Caroline for responding to incidences of bias in a consistent, educationally sound and effective manner.
  • As a result of my own efforts, combined with those of Barry and Kim (including the MLK Build and Talking Circles) to keep anti-racism in the forefront, quite a few teachers (about 15) at Caroline have been involved in one or more ways with equity work.

Participant Change: What did participants do as a result of your work? Please provide examples and analysis.

Student Learning: What impact did your work have on student learning? Please provide examples, if possible, and analysis.
  • Students at Caroline continue to use the term “bias” in appropriate contexts, indicating their understanding of the Bias-free Zone concept and their acceptance of its tenets.
  • Some teachers report good student engagement in the equity-related lessons and discussions they have had. Teachers were spurred to do these lessons by Equity Challenges and MLK Build involvement, as well as my encouragement and coaching.
  • My students demonstrated their learning in a variety of forms. They demonstrated that insights gained in one context carry over to another. For example, about two months after I taught a 3 rd grade literacy unit for the MLK Build called “Walk a Mile,” I asked students to write an ending to a story from the ADL book What Would You Do? As part of her story ending, one student had the story character advocating for herself and saying, “Hey, walk in my shoes and see how it feels.”

Wendy Wallitt, Equity Mentor, Caroline Elementary School
Source: Thomas R. Guskey, Evaluating professional development, 2000, Corwin Press


Cayuga Heights Elementary School
Edna Brown, Deborah Jordan; Equity Mentors

Participant Reactions: To what extent did participants like your work? What did they like best? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis. Many of the staff members at CHES were glad to have Equity Mentors this year (they were understanding that we started late and seemed appreciative we took on this extra role). Some of the things that staff commented on included: the resources displayed on the Equity Bulletin Board…including a list of Multicultural Children’s Literature, which was comprised of a variety of topics (these were taken from the Reading to End Racism of Boulder project and a list from the Bank Street College of Education) and weekly/monthly updates on events happening in our community. In addition, the Equity Challenge was posted on the bulletin board, as well as in other parts of the school and via email. The bulletin board was in a location near a copy machine where staff would frequently visit.
We also began work/discussions on the issue of attendance in our school. A couple teachers commented on how important this topic is and they were glad we began talking about it. In particular, teachers have commented about how hard it seems to get the students from West Village to attend school on a regular basis. In fact, after presenting this topic at a staff meeting, one teacher decided to poll her students about why attending school was important. As a result of these concerns, we began keeping track of the locations of the students in our school who have been absent 15 or more times. These findings have started continued conversation about the issue of attendance and whether or not it is just the West Village families missing the most school….why is that the assumption?

Finally, we received a grant to host the group Vitamin L. Staff were provided with lesson ideas and a variety of other resources prior to the concert. Some lessons were done in classrooms related to equity concepts and the Vitamin L songs. One teacher commented how appreciative she was that we took the time to do this work. Some of the topics discussed (as we took the lead from the students) included what it means to be a friend and how important it is to accept others for who they are. What does it mean to “not judge a book by it cover”? Some students had some strong feelings about bullying at CHES and this opened up some discussion about that. We were also able to tie in the story “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson….basically a story of friendship across a racial divide. Jacqueline Woodson came to visit our school in May…so this was a great connection for the students.

Participant Learning: What did participants learn? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.
-Staff began thinking about/becoming aware of the attendance issues in our school.
-After hearing about the MLK Build, some staff asked where they could get a copy of the MLK book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Some just wanted more information about the Build.
-Staff learned about a variety of resources related to Multicultural Children’s Literature.
-Staff learned about equity topics that tie in with Vitamin L songs.

Organization Impact: What are the impacts of your work on the organization? Please provide analysis.
The presence of Equity Mentors at CHES was really important this year. Some great work had been done in the past, but there had been a void for a while. Our brief work this school year, has begun discussions again and forced people to look at the real equity issues that are happening in our school. These issues are obvious to some of us at CHES, but not to everyone. The resources we have provided to staff are a small step in bringing about further awareness.

Participant Change: What did participants do as a result of your work? Please provide examples and analysis.
Although we were not directly connected to a recent school survey that was completed by 3-5 th graders…..equity issues were mentioned by several students who completed the survey. As a result, our staff resources have been useful to teachers. Topics such as racism, bullying and others were brought up by kids.
The Jacqueline Woodson visit and Vitamin L lessons/concert followed the results of the survey and they came at a time that may have helped students who expressed those concerns. Finally, as our school mourns the loss of our beloved custodian who recently passed away – the Vitamin L concert was a healing event….as we dedicated “That is A Might Power” to him. Several teachers said the concert was “perfect timing”.

Student Learning: What impact did your work have on student learning? Please provide examples, if possible, and analysis.
-After group discussions, some students drew pictures and wrote their thoughts about what it takes to be a good friend and/or “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. These were displayed on a bulletin board near the cafeteria.
-As mentioned, one classroom teacher had her students brainstorm ideas on why attending school is important…which led to a group discussion about attendance.
-In one classroom, we did a lesson on “Freedom Fighters” over several weeks. This brought about a lot of discussion on what it was like to “walk in someone else’s shoes”. For example, what kinds of things did Rosa Parks have to go through? what would you ask her if she was here today? how did Harriet Tubman survive freeing so many people? and much more. Students displayed a variety of work related to these lessons including, drawings and letters.

Source: Thomas R. Guskey, Evaluating professional development, 2000, Corwin Press



DeWitt Middle School
Joanne Church, Mary Baker; Equity Mentors


Enfield Elementary School
Susan Phillips, Equity Mentor


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


Ithaca High School
Joey Cardamone, Agnes Ward; Equity Mentors

Participant Reactions: To what extent did participants like your work? What did they like best? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.
The staff we met with, i.e. custodians and safety aides and teachers, expressed appreciation to be able to share and discuss these issues. At the High School, many people have been reticent because of the distress of the past few years. Safety aides expressed their comfort that this year, under the new principal, that they can deal with students fairly and consistently. For e
People expressed positive responses to some of the Equity Challenges. Some of the challenges that generated response were: the ‘people first’ language and the challenge about providing affirmation of students’ culture.
A lot of our staff needed information about the MLKBuild and the district’s involvement with it. A few key high school staff were already creating curriculum but at some department meetings, people seemed utterly unaware of the project. I think people we informed were appreciative to understand what it was all about. Many wanted to see the lessons that were made.

Participant Learning: What did participants learn? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.
Teachers were reminded of ‘people first’ language when referring to students with disabilities. The equity challenge about that issue garnered positive feedback.
During small meetings, when some teachers expressed confused ideas about ‘why students act that way,’ we used it as a teachable moment to explain how societal forces can impact student behavior. The text, Young, Gifted, and Black was a helpful resource.
Teachers were supported in their efforts to intervene against discriminatory language. They were given ideas about how to intervene or prevent bullying, especially name calling i.e. ‘retard,’ ‘fag.’
Teachers were informed about student differences and needs due to disabilities, i.e. need for consistency with students who have Aspergers’ Syndrome.

Teachers were helped to make their teaching reflect the students’ culture. Many classrooms had posters, pictures, wall hangings, and poems depicting a variety of cultures.
Teachers were informed about disciplinary policies to ensure that they were fair and consistent
Participants learned that they could discuss sensitive issues. And that they shared a lot of common perceptions. I think that many people grasped the district’s equity goals.

Organization Impact: What are the impacts of your work on the organization? Please provide analysis.
Due to the size and complexity of the high school, our meetings were limited by schedule. Most of our contact was with individuals and sometimes with departments. Agnes was able to interact with many different staff people as she circulated around the building every day. She was able to use that access to talk with a variety of different staff, teachers and others, about equity issues and ideas.
A small group formed to organize a Community Infusion Day at the high school. We worked for a year and a half but did not see fruition of our goals. Still, we had a lot of contact inside and outside of the building and generated a lot of ideas and conversations between teachers and administrators, teachers and other teachers, community members and school staff. The group was sorely disappointed that the community day did not happen this year, but we laid a framework for the project to happen in the future.

Participant Change: What did participants do as a result of your work? Please provide examples and analysis.
Some teachers shared conflicts with students, not understanding student attitudes. We discussed why students might not feel seen, understood, and heard. Some teachers mentioned that they hadn’t considered this perspective.
Teachers were reminded to keep attendance records consistent for data based responses.

Student Learning: What impact did your work have on student learning? Please provide examples, if possible, and analysis.
In Content Area Lab classes and many other courses, students from 9 th to senior grades, each made their own smart goals for the year. Every quarter, they reviewed the goal and set objectives to reach it. Students were empowered to impact their own learning and their placement in various support classes.

As students enhanced their reading comprehension and interpretation, especially through texts that were relevant to them, they gained skills that could be applied across the curriculum.
Students started to question their own perspectives and widen their understanding of issues in our community and the world. In particularly sensitive community events, students needed the space and skills to express their concerns.
In another incident, students (and some adults) needed help to mediate through name calling about Muslim students. One teacher needed education to stop sharing her political misperceptions about Muslims and Terrorism.

Source: Thomas R. Guskey, Evaluating professional development, 2000, Corwin Press


Lehman Alternative Community School
Therese Araneo, Equity Mentor


Northeast Elementary School
Kari Krakow, Equity Mentor


South Hill Elementary School
Alice Ball and Amy Gingrich-Eckley, Equity Mentors