SOMSD Access & Equity Initiatives Updates:
We as a District are moving forward with our continued commitment to Access and Equity. This includes the ongoing work of Dr. Gilbert, Assistant Superintendent of Access and Equity. He and I recently met with NJSCI via Rutgers University. You may recall that last year we were one of just a few dozen School Districts in the State that piloted their School Climate and Culture Survey Platform. Columbia, SOMS and MMS participated in this pilot where all 3 major school-based stakeholder groups (Students, Staff and Parents) were encouraged to participate. The results of these initial pilot surveys are on our website under our Access and Equity tab.
Our Principals and Assistant Principals have spent much of their summer developing action plans to utilize the data in those survey results to continue our work on this important topic. We are thrilled to share that we are moving forward with the updated survey platform again for this school year. You will be hearing more about this from your Principals. We are also very excited to announce that, as part of our commitment to Social and Emotional Wellness, we will be engaging with Challenge Day to support Columbia, MMS and SOMS students again this year. The Principals of our Secondary Schools and I met with our Challenge Day representatives to plan the implementation of the experiences that our students will be engaged in this year. If you are interested in learning more about Challenge Day please visit challengeday.org to see the groundbreaking work that this group is doing around the country. As part of our District Goal regarding Social Emotional Learning and our commitment to Access and Equity, Ms. Ann Bodnar our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction and Dr. Gilbert are partnering to bring our SEED Seminars back for this school year. If you are not familiar with the National Seed Project, SEED’s origin story began right here in South Orange & Maplewood! Emily Style, a long-time South Orange resident was part of the launch of the project as she worked with Dr. Peggy Mcintosh … the very first SEED seminar was held at Seton Hall University followed by the first parent SEED group, which was held in Maplewood.
SEED seminars are designed to grow educators by providing courageous spaces for sharing and engaging in powerful conversations that will allow us to better serve our students, learn how to have difficult conversations, and expand our experiences in order to be better colleagues. Participation in the seminars is completely VOLUNTARY. Although SEED seminars are open to ANY and ALL faculty staff, we are capping participation in these seminars to 25.We are also happy to have Columbia High School MAC Director and Counselor, Marcia Hicks as our SEED seminar facilitator this year. Our partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools is entering year two at Columbia. We are extremely pleased to share that so far this partnership has resulted in a year over year increase in our enrollment* in AP Courses.
We are continuing to monitor and review this data. But this initial snapshot is very promising and reflects the efforts of our CHS Leadership Team, Guidance Department, Teachers, Students, Families and our Curriculum and Instruction Department. We will share a full review of this data and the upcoming C&I Committee Meeting.