Committee brings diversity to SCC district
Since January the St. Croix Central School district has had a committee focused solely on infusing discussion and activities related to diversity in every classroom.
"Mr. Bradley sent out an email to staff in early January wondering who might be interested in being a part of this committee. Since that initial email, we have had great interest and participation from staff (teaching and non-teaching), parents, community members, and we are working on student representation as well," said Shannon Donnelly, middle school special education teacher and chairwoman of the Diversity Committee.
The committee, which meets once a month, has been working to educate students and staff about all aspects related to diversity.
"As a committee, we decided very early into our first meeting that along with educating staff and students about the traditional definition and importance of "diversity" (race, ethnicity, culture), we also want to incorporate into that definition the importance of respect, acceptance and celebrating what makes us each individuals," Donnelly said.
The Diversity Committee has a clear focus on how it wants to impact the district.
"It is the mission of the St. Croix Central Diversity Committee to provide a safe, welcoming, inclusive environment in which a diverse student body can achieve equal access to meaningful academic and intellectual opportunities which encourage a deeper understanding and respect of self and others through all aspects of identity including age, gender, culture, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and ability."
The committee took an "informal inventory" at each school building to find out what was being done to celebrate diversity.
"The list was impressive, but we still feel like we can help teachers do more. Currently our large project is planning a district-wide "Anti-Bullying Week," April 11-15, to coincide with National anti-Bullying Day on April 13th. Representatives on the diversity committee from each building are working hard at planning activities for each school that week," said Donnelly.
At the elementary school students will be taking a no-bullying pledge and participate in "Mix-It-Up" activities during the lunch period. Police Chief Rick Coltrain will give a presentation at the middle school on cyberbullying, and students will work on team building activities during their advisory time. High school students will prepare skits to be presented in their silent sustained reading classes and there will be daily announcements regarding the harmful effects of bullying on students.
Donnelly said students and teachers have been receptive to recent diversity activities planned by the committee.
"Teachers and students seem to be excited about the activities we have planned and are very willing to help in any way they can," she said.
The committee plans the activities and gives teachers the tools to carry out the committee's mission.
"We do not want these activities to be 'one more thing' on teachers' already full plates. We are going to give the staff resources to supplement their current lessons and units and make it easy for them to find creative ways to incorporate more diversity and cultural education into their classrooms," she said.
The committee hopes increased discussion and activities focused on diversity will help everyone in the district "embrace and celebrate the experiences, perspectives and voice of all individuals and provide equal opportunity for every individual to reach his or her full potential."
Parents, students, staff and community members interested in joining the diversity committee can contact Donnelly at 715-796-2256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.