2019-2020 Equity Literacy Grants

Equity Literacy Grant Project Summaries

Central Vermont Supervisory Union

The goal of this project is to implement culturally responsive teaching practices in the Northfield Schools. The work for the 2019-20 school year will be to evaluate the culture of the Northfield schools, identify assumptions, and question the impact on underrepresented members of the community which create barriers to access. Educators in Northfield are motivated by their awareness of the burden that normative culture places on some students, families, and staff members in their schools. Through teacher trainings supported by partners, they hope to counter bias and make necessary pedagogical shifts. With the support and encouragement of the Central Vermont Supervisory Union administrative team, the core team intends to share what is learned and, more importantly, the change process, with other schools in the CVSU.

Champlain Valley School District, Colchester School District, South Burlington School District and Winooski School District

In order to address the inequities experienced by historically disadvantaged students in school, four districts in the Chittenden County region are engaging in a collaborative opportunity to improve equity for their children. Champlain Valley School District, Colchester School District, South Burlington School District, and Winooski School District serve over 9,000 students, roughly 10% of Vermont’s student population. The collective focus for this grant is on equity literacy with the goal of moving from an understanding of inequity to sustainable action and a culture of equity. While these districts have different levels of readiness and needs, they share a commitment to address inequities together. They will work collaboratively to build capacity for staff to have a common understanding of equity literacy by sending district-based teams to Courageous Conversations: Beyond Diversity training series, bringing information back to inform school-based trainings, and attending a regional stakeholder meeting. Teams will assess equity literacy growth and understanding using a common pre-post assessment tool. The districts propose a common purpose, focus, and set of goals and measurements that will improve understanding and actions for staff and lead to improved outcomes for students.

Maple Run Unified School District

This project will impact all five campuses of the Maple Run Unified School District throughout the 2019-20 school year. The five campuses include Bellows Free Academy St. Albans (BFA), St. Albans City School (SACS, including Early Childhood Programs), St Albans Town Educational Center (SATEC), Fairfield Center School (FCS), and Northwest Technical Center (NWTC). The grant funds will support District efforts to engage in Equity and Ethnic studies by providing rich experiences for students and staff through educational field trips. Additionally, a training for a core group of teacher leaders interested in equity leadership within the district will be provided. This work is integrated into the district-wide efforts, including work by the Maple Run Equity Committee, to raise awareness and to create urgency around equity education. This group will have access to further training through the Flynn’s Summer Institute and will engage in training-of-the-trainers with Rebecca Haslam of Seed the Way. She will offer full staff development at SACS, BFA and NWTC. In addition to the opportunities provided through this grant funding, the district is investing time and funding into continuing staff development in the coming school year and beyond.

Missisquoi Valley School District

Missisquoi Valley Union High School, in collaboration with Sheldon and Swanton Elementary Schools, will bring equity literacy training to educators at all three schools in order to provide adults with the knowledge and skills necessary to create safe, inclusive and equitable learning environments for students. Partners in this work include the Title IV Indian Education Program that supports Abenaki students, as well as Think: Kids, the program to promote Social and Emotional Learning that is currently up and running in the high school. As a result of this project, educators in these schools will receive equity literacy training; have access to tools that will make their classroom learning environments safer, more inclusive and more equitable; share a common vision and goal for becoming a more inclusive, equitable, and safe learning community; and integrate equity literacy into the MTSS/SEL initiatives. The goal is to support students in learning how to live safely, respectfully and collaboratively in a diverse school community and global world.

Orange Southwest School District

The Orange Southwest Supervisory District (OSSD) will be designing and piloting a professional development program with grade 7-12 educators. After the first year of this project, it will be expanded into the elementary schools. The scope of work will span across content areas and grade levels to build community and shared understandings amongst OSSD. In the fall of 2019, this project will focus on establishing structures and norms within the newly formed Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), in addition to conducting audits and surveys to determine specific needs within the area of equity literacy. Educators will work with the Equity Literacy Institute to conduct an audit of systems and structures, followed by a collaborative drafting of an equity action plan. This plan will outline areas of focus for work within PLCs. Moving into late Fall and Winter, the work will shift from data collection and review to implementing elements of the equity action plan, including more specialized work in PLCs based on faculty needs. In the spring 2020, this project will continue to support the equity-focused learning in PLCs and the Grant Leadership Team will begin to draft professional development goals for the summer and following school year. Priorities will be shaped around data collected from PLCs and will be focused on identifying and training teacher-leaders to continue this work.

Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union, Montpelier Roxbury School District and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union

This project brings together the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, the Montpelier Roxbury School District, and the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union. The goal is to develop systems from southern to northern Vermont that promote positive change through an equity literacy approach. Since the partnership believes that professional learning should be targeted and based on local data, a self-assessment tool from the Colorado Department of Educations’ Equity Toolkit will be used to determine individual areas of focus for ongoing professional learning. The survey will be administered to parents, community members, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders in late August or early September. Data will be reviewed by each District/SU and a professional learning plan will be created to address the specific needs identified at each location. This plan will be collaboratively designed with an equity leadership team from each district/SU. Throughout the year, the professional learning plan from each district/SU will be implemented, including monthly local equity leadership team meetings and three joint meetings with all SUs/Districts. Survey data tools will be used throughout the year to monitor effectiveness of each training and adjust as necessary to maximize the impact of the grant. Two parent nights will be planned for each district/SU to promote the work around Equity Literacy. There will be a concluding meeting to review the work of the school year and develop action plans for the following year.

Rutland High School

Rutland High School (RHS) plans to send sixteen adults (including students, district administrators, classroom teachers, para educators and other members of the learning community) to the Rowland Foundation’s Annual Conference at UVM in Burlington on October 23, 2019. The author and keynote speaker, Robin DeAngelo, will deliver an address entitled, Seeing the Racial Water: Combatting the Institutional Racism in Our Schools. Participants from RHS will also be engaged in interactive break-out sessions presented by other professionals that extend the keynote’s topic at the conference. In order to benefit the most from this experience, and to have a durable common reference point from which participants could facilitate school-wide post-conference discussions, attendees to the conference would be provided a copy of Ms. DeAngelo’s book, White Fragility, to read and discuss. After the Rowland Conference, time will be dedicated to sharing, in small groups, the learning from both the reading and the conference. Staff will be encouraged to identify race and ethnicity-based inequities in their classrooms, the school and/or district practices or policies, their instructional materials, and/or their local, state or national environments. They would then be asked to offer remedies to dismantle the inequities that are identified. The results of this reflective process would be shared in subsequent faculty meetings and during the annual Global Issues Network Conference (GIN) at RHS, which will focus on Equity and Inclusion.