MINOOKA – Minooka Community High School’s Equity and Diversity Committee has announced a number of accomplishments for the end of the 2020-21 school year. MCHS has an ongoing partnership with The Walker-Thomas Group, which provides consultation, training and development skills for the staff, teachers, administration and students regarding the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion.
The 2020-21 school year was an important year for the Equity and Diversity Committee as it started implementing many of its original initiatives, dating back to its inception in 2019.
The Equity and Diversity Committee maintained an open line of communication throughout the year with the MCHS board with periodic updates and a yearly presentation highlighting the growth, development and procedures of the committee. This line of communication allowed the school board direct access and knowledge of the training and what topics would be covered on a regular basis.
The outward facing promotion of the committee continued with Erika Walker, CEO of The Walker Thomas Group, being a featured guest on the MCHS The Nook 111 Podcast series in December 2020 discussing inclusion and diversity in schools. Walker also was a guest presenter for the student club Allies in Diversity.
Training is a big part of the Equity and Diversity Committee to ensure the MCHS board, administration and staff are well equipped to mentor, discuss, self-reflect, recognize and understand, as well as to lead situations to a proper resolution. Training sessions included, but were not limited to, watching scenario-based videos that were relevant to the district and provided by current students with group discussions to follow; training session regarding well-being and how that affects daily life; and hearing crucial conversations regarding students and when they need support. Additionally, four training sessions were completed with students on the topic of awareness building and mutual respect.
Extending the arm of the Equity and Diversity Committee, the group has created a plan for a diversity recruitment strategy for inclusion by joining specific groups and expanding the reach for diverse candidates for future hires. The committee also suggested, based on the original cultural assessment, the development of a school board special task force to review the MCHS mascot and its implications for inclusion. That task force has met and presented its recommendations to the school board, and task force members created a working document based on the various discussions and presentations they heard in order to start a list of action items. In July, the school board approved the list of action items to move forward with over the next school year.
Moving forward, the Equity and Diversity Committee will be creating four teams that will focus on specific areas and purpose. Those teams are restorative practice, student training for athletics and activities, recruitment and events.
The restorative practice team will have a purpose to modify student behavior through education, reflection and continued support to develop positive interpersonal skills. The student training for athletics and activities team will have a purpose to create a student advisory committee for athletics and activities. The recruitment team will have a purpose to recruit and retain talented and diverse educators who are well-rounded staff members. The events team will have a purpose to push into classrooms, assemblies and other school sponsored events to teach, model and raise awareness of mental health topics and inclusion throughout the school. The committee’s goal is to reach as many students as possible.
In addition to the four identified teams, MCHS also will be reviewing curriculum initiatives and data review processes including course revisions and new courses.
“Minooka Community High School continues to build on the strong foundation that has grown out of the Equity and Diversity Committee,” MCHS Building Principal Dr. Bryan Zwemke said. “It’s exciting to see the committee expanding into the next phase, creating multiple teams and team leaders, modeling outstanding citizenship for students, creating and building trust, and collectively moving the message of inclusion forward.”
The MCHS Equity and Diversity committee currently has 20 members including students, staff and community members.
Source: The Daily Chronicle