The district has many efforts underway this year aimed to support inclusive learning environments and address concerns regarding culture and equity in our school district. This work is our passion and is THE work which not only the staff embraces, but the community as well. As such, we have engaged in critical conversations this year and important work to continue to move our schools forward and find successes for all students.
Some of this work includes efforts made in the Title VI program, the formation and efforts of a Culture and Equity Design Team which has become the Inclusive Excellence Guiding Coalition, continued evolution of the English Language Development Program, increased access to interpretation and translation services, and additions of critical staff roles to support students, families and staff along the way.
TITLE VI PROGRAM
Central to our Title VI program is our Native American Parental Advisory Committee (NAPAC).
The purpose of NAPAC is to guide Title VI staff and District Administration in developing, operating and evaluating Native American Programming for Title VI students. NAPAC families set meaningful grant objectives.
- Objective 1: Increase knowledge of cultural identity and awareness.
- Objective 2: Enhance problem solving and cognitive skills development and directly support attainment of State standards.
- Objective 3: Increase parent participation.
The district has a Native American Cultural Liaison, which would be funded through Title VI Federal Funds. The liaisons’ primary focus has been to build relationships with students and families. Additionally, the district partners with mentors and tutors from Fort Lewis College to continue to support program needs and relationships with families.
INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE GUIDING COALITION
The Excellence Guiding Coalition exists to inform, lead, and champion the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategic plan which aims to ensure students will graduate prepared for success in their choice of career and/or post-secondary education, able to compete in and contribute to the global community, and be motivated to continue the pursuit of knowledge throughout their lives.
Our coalition will monitor the DEIB strategic plan through data analysis and provide ongoing feedback regarding areas of celebration and areas of improvement in the following areas:
- Increase cultural awareness of students and staff as well as a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion.
- Implement a unified multi-tiered system of support.
- Increase student, family, and community engagement.
If you know someone who would be interested in joining the Inclusive Excellence Guiding Coalition, please have them contact Student Support Services at 970-247-5411 extension 1456.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Our district supports multilingual learners across the content areas as they add English to the other language or languages they already know. Our instructional approach focuses on developing English language and literacy simultaneously and building on students’ strengths.
During our daily dedicated English language development (ELD) instruction, we are using new curricular resources that build language, vocabulary and literacy skills through thematic units. The elementary ELD curricular resources are strategically aligned with the new district language arts curriculum. This allows multilingual learners to build expertise and transfer learning to other tasks. The new secondary curriculum engages adolescent multilingual learners in academic discourse, vocabulary work, reading and writing about compelling real-world topics.
As part of district continuous improvement efforts, we regularly review district and state assessment data to celebrate, monitor, and improve instruction to improve academic outcomes for multilingual learners in our district.
With the goal of partnering with families in the language they best understand, our district provides high-quality translation and interpretation services. Our district contracts with several highly skilled bilingual professionals in our community to provide the majority of the services and we also engage other vendors for less common languages or special services. In addition to providing interpretation and translation services, the district has provided training to all staff on working effectively with interpreters and has a guidance document entitled Communicating with Families in Their Home Language: Which translation/ interpretation format should you use? Requests for language services continue to grow in the Durango School District. Every week we are facilitating communication between our families and staff in languages other than English.
OTHER WORK UNDERWAY
In addition to this great work that has been underway, the district has identified key positions meant to continue to enhance language access and understanding as well as strengthen relationships with families and students. These positions include:
- Parent/Guardian School Liaison Bilingual in English and Spanish
- Title VI Program Manager
- Title VI Native American Parent/Guardian School Liaison
The district continues to look at policies and practices in an effort to remove unintended barriers to the educational program. Mandatory professional development continues to remain an important focus for this work as well.
Education is at the heart of social justice as we are a huge player in determining the type of key that children will hold in their hands as adults in our society. As educators, our goal is to ensure every child holds a key that opens any door they choose. We have a lot of great work underway and plan to provide regular updates, as well as opportunities for our community to get involved, as we continue to work toward a common goal of inclusive education and endless opportunities for all students.