Danbury Public Schools has been working for the last 18 months to look at barriers that prevent all Danbury students from being prepared for college and life beyond high school. During this discovery process, it became evident that there were many strategies that could be employed to improve instruction, access to coursework and better ways of understanding families. The big takeaway from the discovery process has been to look within ourselves – the administration, teachers, paraprofessionals and everyone who works with children – to understand the wealth of knowledge that our families and students bring to the classroom.
With that being said, educators realized that learning alternative ways to teach and to understand how barriers to instruction impact our students was needed. Not truly understanding the internal motivators (culture, climate and personal preferences) of students led to multiple barriers. Once the funds of knowledge that our students and families bring to the education system in Danbury were acknowledged, educators were able to look at their own perceptions, biases and prejudices. Understanding these factors led to the resolution to disrupt and dismantle our own motivations to disrupting and dismantling racism in Danbury. Therefore, the work is now under way to learn what educational equity is and how the district can ensure that a lens of equity is used in all teaching.
While the discovery phase of the project was being undertaken, the Danbury Board of Education asked for a new strategic plan for this district. The equity team began the intensive work to examine areas of equity that needed the most work. The outcome resulted in six areas for the plan: teaching, learning and professional development, a welcoming culture and climate, hiring, training and retention of educators and staff, meaningful collaboration, equity learning opportunities, and fiscal and operational management. A content knowledge leader was assigned to each area to be responsible for developing the plan.
Throughout the equity and strategic plan, Danbury Schools have ensured that teachers and the community have been engaged in each step. In December of 2018, a community group worked for the day on defining what was important to graduates. Similar conversations have taken place throughout Danbury to hear feedback on the information gained from the equity work and the resulting draft strategic plan. Now as the plan is nearing completion, and will be brought before the Board of Education, the community’s feedback is needed once again. A survey has been developed to measure the degree the community agrees with what the teams have written as well as to give further feedback on its development. The surveys are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese and can be accessed at www.danbury.k12.ct.us. Please help us develop a plan that reflects our community and students.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.