School district focuses on diversity through strategic plan, employee training, hiring and classroom lessons
Celebrating diversity is a critical focus within the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. This consistent emphasis is included in several areas of the district’s strategic plan as well as within staff training, employee hiring, classroom lessons, academic support, behavior management and extra-curricular offerings. Throughout the district, schools work to honor, seek and encourage diversity on multiple levels each day.
The district’s comprehensive character education program includes a variety of broad goals such as teaching students about choices that improve the quality of their experiences and interactions with all individuals. These efforts include providing students with the skills and tools they need to be successful in our global society.
To ensure that diversity is an ongoing emphasis at each school, the district has a Diversity Facilitators Team to provide leadership and assistance. The team, which meets together several times annually, includes a diversity facilitator from each school. This group works together to be responsive to school issues while helping each school celebrate and acknowledge diversity. Another role of facilitators is to serve as champions of all aspects of diversity at their schools.
In addition to the facilitators, the R-7 School District has a six-member Diversity Planning Team. This group helps set the long-range vision for the continuing work with the school diversity facilitators and establishes agendas for the facilitators meetings. Dr. Kevin Daniel, R-7 associate superintendent of instruction and leadership, leads the team.
Within Lee’s Summit R-7, diversity incorporates multiple facets. The Diversity Facilitators Team has discussed and planned for the following diversity aspects — intellectual diversity, cultural, generational, technological, ethnicity and race, economic, social, emotional and disabilities/abilities.
This team has developed guidelines to ensure that all R-7 schools are equitable and culturally responsive. Through this guide, known as the Culturally Responsive Schools Model, expectations have been developed in the following areas: administrative leadership; academic student support; curriculum, instructional strategies and teacher resources; parent/community involvement and perception; physical environment; staff as role models, student assignments and student placement in classrooms; student behavior management; extra-curricular and co-curricular offerings; and affective student support. The model was developed with facilitation assistance from Dr. Emmanuel Ngomsi, president of All World Languages and Cultures.
In the area of employment, which falls under administrative leadership, school and district administrators are expected to recruit candidates who embrace diversity and to recruit and retain candidates of diverse populations.
Within the academic student support area, goals include high academic expectations for each student, additional support and resources for struggling students and access to technology and equipment for all students. In addition, it is expected that culturally diverse students will participate in school leadership roles and achieve recognition for academic achievement.
Other examples of expectations in the various areas follow:
- The district curriculum reflects the diversity of the global society.
- All families new to the district feel welcomed and comfortable at school.
- Staff is knowledgeable and sensitive to cultural, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
- Staff members model strategies that promote diversity and success in a global context.
- Culturally unbiased structures are used to identify students for placement in academic programs and classes.
- Discipline is administered equitably to students regardless of culture or ethnicity.
- The district provides a safe environment for each student.
- Students of diverse cultures participate in extra- and co-curricular activities.
- Students are aware and sensitive to cultural, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Diversity Planning Team members include (front row, from left) Ginger Wood, Michelle Edwards (back row, from left) Dr. Kevin Daniel, Andre Montgomery and Joe Dan Vendelin. Not pictured is Curtis Cook.