Pillar 1: Systemic Transformation of Culture

  • Welcome to a five-part special series of 203 in 2:03. I’m Dr. Rakeda Leaks, Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Naperville 203. Last year, we launched a comprehensive equity plan with a focus on educational equity to ensure every student has access to exemplary learning opportunities with the support they need to be self-directed learners, collaborative workers, complex thinkers, quality producers, and community contributors. Let’s dive into our first pillar of the Comprehensive Equity Plan - Systemic Transformation of Culture.

    So what does this mean? Naperville 203 wants to create a climate and culture that ensures all people consistently feel valued, respected, included, safe, and contributing members to all school environments.

    What will this look like for our students? Naperville 203 will support students in engaging in positive, respectful student-to-student relationships across all aspects of the school community, including creating meaningful connections and relationships across race and cultural groups.  Students will understand how their actions can positively and negatively impact both the school and classroom community, and when appropriate, engage in practices to repair any harm. The goal will be that students take responsibility and feel empowered when they witness inequities in an academic and activity-based setting.

    What will this look like for our staff?  Teachers and building staff will foster positive and meaningful relationships with students and families across race, cultural, and all other demographic groups.  Building staff will create conditions where students and adults, regardless of race, culture, family structure, socio-economic status, and any other social identifier feel connected, safe, and are valued contributing members of the school community.  This will include student-to-student interactions as well as student-to-teacher interactions.  

    What will this look like in classrooms?  In language and action, teachers will emphasize students' assets, strengths, confidence, potential, and set high expectations for all students. Teachers will avoid deficit mindsets and language that alienates or marginalizes any person or group of people.

    School administrators and teachers will recognize and actively counter known bias when implementing school rules and discipline procedures and systematically gather students’ voices and respond to needs as it relates to all students having a positive sense of belonging. As well as share the collective responsibility to address, eliminate, and prevent actions, decisions, and outcomes that result from and perpetuate racism, implicit bias, and all forms of discrimination.

    I think we can all agree that feeling like a valued member of an educational community is critical for the academic success of our students. This is something we all should strive for each day. I want to thank our wonderful teachers, administrators, and staff for their commitment to equity and our students. We appreciate them greatly. Thank you for joining me on this episode and tune in as others on the District leadership team address the next four pillars over the next few weeks.


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