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Profiles in Educational Equity

In connection with our theme for the 2019 MERC Conference, we are proud to share the "Profiles in Educational Equity" series from Abstract. Episodes feature initiatives that promote equity in each of our seven MERC school divisions. We have stories of experiential learning, alternative education, mentoring, adaptive physical education, professional development, student ambassadors, and literacy curricula, capturing the various ways our school divisions are working to make the educational experience more equitable for their students and educators. Episodes will be released weekly from August 30th through October 11th, and podcast participants will be featured in a panel discussion at the end of the conference on October 18th. Click below to listen to the series and learn about this important work being done in metropolitan Richmond schools. 

Experiential Learning in Goochland County Public Schools

We spoke with (left to right) Raye Rector (Director of Gifted and Federal Programs), Courtney Grady (Freshman at Longwood University and Class of 2019 Graduate from GHS), Bruce Watson (Director of Career and Technical Education), Brandon Avram (Junior at GHS), Demond Morris (Senior at GHS), and Beth Fowler (Director of School Counseling at GHS) from Goochland County Public Schools about experiential learning in their division. GCPS offers a variety of educational opportunities designed to make sure that all students are ready for life after high school, including programs supporting college and career readiness. Listen to learn about the importance of these programs for helping all students feel a sense of connection and purpose in school. Hosted by David Naff (MERC Assistant Director). 

Alternative Education in Chesterfield County Public Schools

We spoke with (left to right) Merv Daugherty (Superintendent), Isabelle Battle (Class of 2019 Graduate of Academy 360), Michelle Wilder (Assistant Principal at Carver College and Career Academy), Laura Faulcon (Assistant Principal of Alternative Programs), and Sharonda Smith (English Teacher at Academy 360) about alternative education in Chesterfield County Public Schools. CCPS offers a variety of alternative education programs to meet the needs of their large and diverse student body. Listen to learn more about the mission of alternative education, who benefits from these programs, and how they fit into the broader vision of equity for the division. Hosted by David Naff (MERC Assistant Director).  

LETRS Literacy Initiative in Petersburg City Public Schools

We spoke with Diane Lewis (Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Program Specialist with VDOE Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU), Torrey Manson (PCPS Director of Special Education), Phyllis Haynes (Co-Director VDOE Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU), and Kelly Tobe (PCPS Director of Teaching and Learning) about the LETRS initiative in Petersburg City Public Schools. LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) is a flexible literacy professional development for teachers that shows how reading, writing, and language are related. Listen to learn more about this program and how it has impacted teaching and learning in Petersburg. Hosted by Cindy Sinanian (Hanover Teacher).  

Brothers United Mentoring in Richmond Public Schools

We spoke with (left to right) Darryl Williams (Engagement Coordinator), Derrick Bates (Teacher at George Mason Elementary), Joel Grimaldo (3rd Grade Student at George mason Elementary), and Tamika Massie (Engagement Specialist) from Richmond Public Schools about their Brother's United Mentoring Program. This program pairs mentors with young men of color in RPS, with a current focus on elementary school students. There are plans to expand the program to other schools in the division in the coming years. Listen to learn more about how this initiative launched in RPS, how the division sees mentoring as a vehicle for advancing educational equity, and the impact it has already made on the lives of students and mentors. Hosted by David Naff (MERC Assistant Director).

Equity Day in Hanover County Public Schools

We spoke with (left to right) Candice Burrell (Special Education Teacher at Atlee High), Brian Maltby (Discipline Hearing Review Officer), and Dana Gresham (Director of Professional Development, Leadership, and Federal Programs) from Hanover County Public Schools about their Equity Day initiative. This one day professional development provides training and support for teachers, administrators, and student support personnel across the division, bringing in community engaged research and guest speakers focused on educational equity. Listen to learn about how the idea for this initiative emerged, what they hope to accomplish in its first year, and the "equity challenge" they have put forth for participants in the upcoming school year. Hosted by David Naff (MERC Assistant Director). 

Adaptive Physical Education in Powhatan County Public Schools

We spoke with (left to right) Ethan Kramer (High School Senior), Amber Foos (Physical Education Teacher), Eli Tiller (Class of 2018 Graduate), Sara Meade (Special Education Teacher), Seth Rogers (Class of 2019 Graduate), and Lauren Llewellyn (University of Florida Freshman and Class of 2019 Graduate) from Powhatan High School about their adaptive physical education program. This program helps provide access to physical education for students with physical and intellectual disabilities by pairing them with peer buddies in the school. Listen to learn more about how this program has connected students across PHS. Hosted by Melissa Cuba (MERC Evaluation Specialist).

Equity Ambassadors in Henrico County Public Schools

We spoke to (left to right) Robyn Clark (Business Teacher at Highland Springs High), Monica Manns (Director of Equity and Diversity), Sofia Simmons (Freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and Class of 2019 Graduate from Henrico High), and Veja Murray (Senior at Highland Springs High) about the Equity Ambassadors program in Henrico County Public Schools. This program brings together student representatives from each of the high schools in Henrico County who are charged with launching initiatives to advance equity in their schools. Listen to learn more about the impact that this program is already making across the division in its inaugural year, as well as how they plan to build on that momentum. Hosted by David Naff (MERC Assistant Director).