Suany Rodriguez-Parham wants to do everything in her power to break down the barriers that divide people. The Supervisor of Bilingual Translation Services is focused on finding ways to highlight similarities and embrace differences as human beings.
That's why she joined the Rockford Public Schools Equity Design Team when it formed in August 2017. This change-driven team of six RPS 205 employees was created through a partnership with The National Equity Project. The Equity Design Team engages district leaders, site-level principals and teacher leaders in collaborative learning. The knowledge gained will empower them to pilot the equity-driven work needed across the district. We hope this team will help the district achieve its bold mission to collaboratively engage all students in a world-class education and its vision to be the first choice for all families.
"I am an immigrant to the United States; my family moved to Rockford when I was six. I understand what it's like to move to a new country, not speak the language and feel like I don't belong. I want to help create environments where our students can experience a strong sense of belonging and see themselves as part of RPS 205 without being criticized, categorized or ostracized by their peers and staff," Rodriguez-Parham said.
RPS 205 proudly serves a racially, culturally and linguistically diverse community where a high population of students live in poverty. We recently made strides with the level of service provided to students and families, but disparities in student achievement, graduation and college and career readiness persist.
Over the past two years, our administrative team has worked to take a closer look at these patterns to understand more about the contributing factors of the disparities that exist in Rockford. These disparities mirror challenges across the country. Our goal is to design an innovative approach to meet the needs of Rockford's diverse student body.
Jefferson High School principal Don Rundall is also helping lead the work of the Equity Design Team. Rundall says he's seen and experienced inequities in education and in life.
"I feel it is important to be on this team to make sure our district is doing what is best for our students. By joining the district's equity team I can help people identify and understand their bias. That is the first step of creating an equitable environment for all people," Rundall said.What's Next?Staff members on the team agree that the next stage of the equity work should:
-Increase equity knowledge, consciousness and understanding of the contributing factors of persistent educational inequities, and build a common language for discussing these inequities across the district.
-Build structures and processes for engaging in productive dialogue, and learn about equity issues at the individual/interpersonal, institutional and structural level in Rockford.
-Develop Leading for Equity Competencies among leaders across roles in the district to increase the capacity of RPS 205 educators to lead with an equity imperative
-Continue to pilot site-level equity learning, focused on knowing and responding to diverse student needs that is led by site level, equity-driven leadership teams.
-Work collaboratively with district-level leaders and the Rockford School Board to articulate a shared equity imperative, as well as a strategy and approach for addressing this imperative within RPS 205.
How Can You Help?This work is important and personal for our community, and we need your help. Be part of the change and learn more about the RPS 205 Equity Design Team. Consider signing up for one of the four summer sessions, called Leading for Equity at RPS 205, under the Professional Development tab on Employee Online. Please contact me with questions at 815-966-3221 or email@example.com.
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