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Does your district have an equity mantra?
Equity Corner by Edgar Lampkin
April 12, 2021
What is your equity mantra? Do you have that one statement to help everyone intentionally focus on making decisions using an equity lens? What is it?
As an educator who uses an equity lens, how do you communicate the importance and help others own and drive your vision and mission to ensure all students’ needs are being met equitably? Of course, it starts with establishing a culture in your district. But what is that statement that can stick and help maintain a constant message and establish that culture?
Superintendent Zandra Jo Galvan from Greenfield Union School District is an “Equity Warrior” who has established a culture of putting “all students first.” She believes that as a superintendent and servant leader of her district, it is her responsibility to build a culture of equity-minded folks, where all staff can own and communicate the same message and expectation. Therefore, it is important for a superintendent to instill equity in a way that allows all staff and parents to own it and use that same lens.
“I have a mantra for the district and that is that we are here for students and they come first,” Galvan shared. “All students deserve to have their needs met and we have to make it a priority in all of our interactions. To communicate this message, our district mantra is ‘Put Students First’ and ‘All Means All’ at all times!”
Galvan was interviewed on March 14, 2020 for the podcast Aspire: The Leadership Development Podcast by Joshua Stamper. She was asked about “All Means All” and how she ensures that all of her students have the resources they needed to be successful, including for distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. All students who needed devices and connectivity got that access equitably. All students received socio-emotional support lessons at the very beginning of the day through lessons developed by her expert counselors and administered by her well-trained teachers. All students in her district had that personal connection, one on one with their teachers for weekly wellness checks.
She explained that “in order to build that culture of ‘All Means All,’ you need to build that key cultural capital students bring to their class … the ‘familia’ (family) concept. Staff needs to feel and treat each other like a functional and healthy family so that we then tap onto that asset our students bring to the table!” In her district, 98 percent of her students are Hispanic/Latino/a, and families predominantly work in agriculture.
Galvan’s district mantra of “All Means All” promotes equity and accomplishes this as many of us educators do, by leveraging and building strong partnerships with businesses who support the work we are doing in our districts —from the construction and architect firms to education vendors who provide resources to help us meet the learning needs of our students.
Another example of how she walks the talk on “All Means All” is how she is preparing students socio-emotionally and academically in grades PK through 8 using a STEM focus. The district partners with LEGO Corporation and Apple Education, who help provide multiple resources for making sure all students are learning all the essentials for coding and robotics engineering education, so that they have a true choice in a college or career education. Teachers work in PLCs to develop integrated and rich STEM content that engages all students in learning and accessing the tools they need.
“No one should predetermine the success of a kid. We need to provide them all those rich experiences and allow them to decide what they want to do with their future,” Galvan said. “By the time our kids leave our schools they are globally competitive and fully prepared to decide their future, whether it is working for Google or some innovative company in the Silicon Valley, which located just an hour away from Greenfield.”
Galvan is passionate and driven about her district and their success with students. All students are provided an excellent education because the culture established has the “familia” concept, which is evident through the relationships staff have with one another and is transferred to students and families. It’s an established culture where students come first and “All Means All.”
Students’ socio-emotional and academic needs are prioritized and met. This is what an established culture that uses an equity lens does, and it is nurtured daily, weekly, monthly and yearly through a mantra all staff own, buy into, and believe is essential to who they are and what they do for their students.
What is your district’s equity-focused mantra? To what extent is it a part of the everyday culture in your district? Continue to make it powerful and long lasting.
Edgar Lampkin is ACSA’s Region 2 Equity & Diversity Committee Representative.
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