For many years, I have had the pleasure of serving as a faculty member and administrator for the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) District 75. There have been times I not only served as a teacher, but I have taken leadership roles within my department, school, and in the district. I am a strong children’s advocate and believe that school districts should work hard to ensure that they remain student centric. Whatever decisions are made, it remains important that what is best for improving student performance is the motivation behind them. My passion and area of interest is diversity. I believe that in order to give the student of NYCDOE District 75 a balanced and rewarding experience, our faculty, staff, and administrators should represent the same diversity of ethnicity and gender as they represent. In addition to diversity, there should be a long term plan in place for hiring new faculty, staff, and administrators. In my experience, I have found that it is important to 1. Have a diverse blend of faculty, staff, and administrators, because students are more comfortable when those that lead them to look like them, 2. These faculty, staff, and administrators should be knowledgeable about how to work within diverse communities, and 3. It should be encouraged by the district that they are active beyond the classroom, giving the students the total educative experience and building relationships.
In my years as an administrator, it became a policy of mine to require newly hired teachers and staff to undergo multiculturalism training. I implemented a program at my school that is still being used today. However, I believe that it must go much further than a mere program. I believe that the tokenize diversity training programs designed to improve this understanding have been found “insufficient and/or ineffective in creating tolerance and cultural awareness” (Davis & Reiter, 2011). Therefore in addition to the program that I created, I will also hire my faculty in staff with diversity in mind. By simply approaching this issue head-on in the hiring process, teachers with a familiarity with the backgrounds of those whom they teach can be hired from the get-go, prepared to hit the ground running (Cochran-Smith, 2003). Multiculturalism is a theme that continues to permeate the landscape of modern American education reform and its relevance to teacher hiring and retention cannot be overstated. Given the growing diversity of the nation’s population, multiculturalism must be taken into account when considering the hiring structure of our nation’s schools. Recently, a great many scholars have suggested ways in which multiculturalism can be accounted for in the teacher and staff hiring process. As “Multicultural Teacher Education” through diversity training programs has been found insufficient to mitigate the impact of teachers unable to relate to student backgrounds, a different approach is necessary; namely, the hiring of the right teachers for the right schools (Milner et. al., 2003). The primary goal is to keep in line District 75 mission is to “promote challenging behaviors, with equity of opportunity and access, which will enable all students commensurate with their abilities to become productive members of a multicultural society” (National Institute, 2004, p. 4).
As I move into the role of superintendent, I have three main areas of interest that I would like to focus on that I believe will bring about the change that District 75 needs:
1. Hire and encourage administrators to hiring faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds to give students and other stakeholders a reflection in the schools of what they see in their communities.
2. Retain faculty, staff, and administrators who are knowledgeable and educated about diverse communities, inner-city communities, ethnically diverse communities, etc. This will allow for deeper knowledge and understanding of working with these community members.
3. Hire and train teachers to have a long-term goals. Goals that go beyond the four walls of the classroom and that allow active engagement and relationship with parents, and other community stakeholders.
NYCDOE District has been and continues to be one of the most diverse school districts in the country and possibly the nation. The retiring superintendent and the Board of Education have done a fine job working with this diversity and doing all that has been possible to include multiculturalism in practice. They have in many ways worked to foster an environment that is conducive to growth and diversity. Giving the students faces that look like them. As superintendent, it is important that I continue to work with the board, in an attempt to go further with this idea of diversity. I would like to see the latest research and data used to help enhance what has already been going on in the district. Therefore, with the knowledge and action District, 75 can be a place where education and positive change in the lives of our students happens.
My goals for entry into this position are inspired by and drawn from the vision and mission of NYCDOE District 75 and the goals generated by the Board of Education.
The vision of district 75 is to build a staff capacity of quality teaching as the district works collaboratively with major stakeholders in the field of education including school principals, administrators, teachers, faculty members, and parents to promote inclusion of all students, students with disabilities and students without disabilities, to foster and raise the levels of academic, creative, moral, personal, and social growth, development, and success of the entire student population by creating an environment of self-directed thinkers through ongoing learning opportunities in home, school, and within the community.
The mission of District 75 is to promote an inclusive educational culture by building partnerships among major stakeholders to promote excellence, accountability, and fairness; thereby providing all students including the 23,000 with disabilities to become vigilantly observant and exceptionally driven participants in their own education and social experience. Improved academics and social skills for students begin by allotting administration, counselors, educators, speech-language pathologists as well as physical and occupational therapists the opportunity to become innovative thinkers and effective leaders by continuously advancing their educational instruction in a dire effort to support the best practices in inclusive education. The district works in conjunction with these established partnerships to enhance the dissemination of information to all parents and guardians to ensure that each child receives the intervention, programs, and resources allocated to students within the demographic area. This platform will afford their children the opportunity to utilize the resources which support student achievement both in school and within the community.
1. To develop and expand options, within the least restrictive environments, for the participation of students with severe disabilities in school and community settings.
2. To support the development and implementation of an integrated approach to instruction, merging all components of a comprehensive program (high expectations, performance and content standards, program practices to accommodate diverse learning styles, ability levels, and assessment alternatives) to meet students' Individualized Education Plans.
3. To create learning environments that provide positive behavior supports, including instruction in self-management of challenging behaviors and in social skills development.
4. To develop and implement a set of procedures that ensures the smooth transition from school to post-school/adult opportunities.
5. To examine current regulatory, funding and administrative structures that support the achievement of the district goals and coordinate activities to facilitate systems change.
6. “To partner with regional general education schools under a grant for Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) in 40 general education schools, to develop and train teams on proactive behavioral interventions, so that students can remain in the least restrictive environment in their home zoned schools” (Davis & Reiter, 2011, n.p.).
Drawing from these two documents, my goals over the next one hundred days are to lay the groundwork to:
• Offer options for students with special needs, but also add to the diversity that is present in the district to meet all the needs of our student stakeholders.
• Help to make the classroom experience more inclusive of the diverse ethnic, social, economic, community that this district serves. Including curriculum that will foster tolerance and understand, but also increase learning.
• Encourage social skills building in our students, by addressing all behaviors good or bad to maximize the good and productive behaviors within the community.
• Work with faculty and staff to make sure their needs are being met to provide quality and adequate education.
• Develop strategic partnerships with community members, institutions of higher education, and among the 310 school sites to foster a sense of community and connection.
The purpose of an entry plan is to articulate the steps necessary to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Much of my immediate work will focus on the following objectives which will be clearly measurable and serve the larger goals listed above:
A. To develop a diverse and community reflective faculty and staff
B. To develop staff skills and knowledge on the community we serve
C. To develop build internal and external relationships with the district and the school sites.
D. To develop a comprehensive understanding of the NYCDOE District 75 vision, mission, and goals. This is to foster a sense of shared community. To build a sense of trust among faculty and staff, faculty and student, and all stakeholders in the community. This will help to foster learning and student support, meeting the district’s most important mission to be student-centric, by helping better prepare our students for their lives in the 21st Century.
1. Create a communication plan with local media and community outlets to reach out to the external stakeholders to advise them of the current plans of the district
[Targeted objectives C and D]
_____Participate in Television shows (min. of 6) on Public and Educational Access Channels. Do press conferences with news and other media outlets like community magazines, etc.(January, 2014- May, 2014).
_____Continue publication of Superintendent’s Weekly Newsletter (Beginning 2/14).
_____Address NYCDOE District 75 faculty and staff (January 20, 2014).
_____Attend monthly NYCDOE District 75 Sports Boosters meetings (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend at least one PTO meeting at each of the schools (January, 2014 – February, 2014).
_____Work with Principals and PTO presidents to host appropriate “Meet the New Superintendent” opportunities for families at each school (February, 2014 – April, 2014).
_____Attend appropriate after school and evening functions at each school (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Conduct in-person with each member of the Board of Education (February, 2014 – March 2014).
_____Conduct in-person interviews with all members of the NYCDOE District 75 administration (February, 2014 – March, 2014).
_____Conduct in-person interviews with selected parents representing each of the schools (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Conduct in-person interviews with small groups of randomly selected students at each school (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Conduct in-person interviews with small groups of randomly selected teachers from each of the five schools (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Tour School Food Service Facilities and meet all Food Service workers (January 20, 2014).
_____Schedule brief introductory meetings with other town officials (February, 2014 – March, 2014):
_____Meet local state legislators (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend School Faculty meetings (February 1, 2014; March 7, 2014).
_____Meet with New York Times (February, 2014).
_____Create Superintendent’s Facebook page (January, 2014).
_____Create Superintendent’s Twitter feed to highlight outstanding classroom practice and other NYCDOE District 75 noteworthy achievements (January, 2014).
_____Create Superintendent’s blog to highlight outstanding classroom practice (January, 2014).
2. Visit school sites and classrooms on a weekly basis.
[Targeted objectives A, B C, and D]
_____Conduct facilities tour and meet head and day custodians of as many school sites. (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Meet all evening custodians have a meeting (February, 22, 2014).
_____Visit classrooms in each building weekly (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Continue supervision and evaluation of select teachers across the district (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Visit First Student Bus Garage (February, 2014).
_____Attend Bus Drivers’ Safety Meeting (February, 2014 – April, 2014).
3. Develop a continuous relationship with a member of the NYCDOE District 75 Board.
[Targeted objectives A, B C, and D]
_____Conduct in-person interviews with NYCDOE District 75 Board members
_____Establish a weekly standing meeting with Executive secretaries and other board leaders (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Conduct school visits with NYCDOE District 75 Board members (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend subcommittee meetings monthly (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Accompany NYCDOE District 75 Board members on select public access television shows (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Propose Board member 1-day retreat for the purpose of relationship building (Early Spring, 2014).
4. Build a strong relationship with the external stakeholders of the NYCDOE District 75
[Targeted objectives C and D]
_____Attend meetings of the local Chambers of Commerce (minimum 1 each) (February, 2014 – April, 2014).
_____Attend meetings of select community service organizations and religious (TBD) (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend select civic events (TBD) (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Meet presidents and provosts of the local institutions of higher education (January 19, 2014).
_____Meet with other district School Superintendents (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
5. Focus on the needs and the opportunities that the school district must address in the long and short term.
[Targeted objectives A, B, C and D]
_____Establish bi-weekly “book study” meetings of relevant authors on multiculturalism, inclusion, and best practices. (February, 2014- May, 2014).
_____Work with board and staff to align NYCDOE District 75 standards and assessments to State adopted standards and best practices (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend select State DOE meetings and report information as appropriate (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Meet with local state legislators (January, 2014 – May, 2014).
_____Attend appropriate professional development events and report information as appropriate (February, 2014 – June, 2014).
_____Hold weekly meetings with Central Office administrators (February, 2014 – May, 2014).
6. Communicate effectively budgetary needs and resources across the district.
[Targeted objectives A, B, C, and D]
_____Assist Financial Department and staff in the initial 2014-2015 School Budget Presentation (January 24, 201).
_____Participate in budget workshops (January, 2014 – February, 2015).
_____Develop information bulletin for dissemination in the community (April, 2014).
_____Host budgetary forums with community leaders and concern parents (April, 2014).
_____Meet with local politicians and legislators to discuss budgetary increases (March, 2014).
_____Discuss possible NYCDOE District 75 fundraising activities with the school booster clubs, and other organizations. (February, 2014).
_____Develop strategic relationships with business partners around the district for funding assistance (April, 2014).
District information. (2014). NYC Department of Education. Retrieved from http://schools .nyc.gov/Offices/District75/DistrictInfo/default.htm
Banks, J. A. (2004). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J. A. Banks, & et al. (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education (2nd ed. pp. 3-29). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Cochran-Smith, M. (2003). “The Multiple Meanings of Multicultural Teacher Education: A Conceptual Framework.” Teacher Education Quarterly, Spring 2003: 7-26.
Davis, S.N. & Reiter, A.B. (2011). “Factors Influencing Pre-Service Teachers’ Beliefs about Student Achievement.” Multicultural Education. Spring 2011, 41-46.
Milner, H.R., Flowers, L.A., Moore, E. Jr., Moore, J.L. & Flowers, T.A. (2003). “Pre-service Teachers’ Awareness of Multiculturalism and Diversity.” The High School Journal, Fall, 87.1 (2003): 63-70.
New York City Schools Region 10 & District 75. (March 2004). National Institute for Urban School Improvement. Retrieved from http://www.urbanschools.org/district_profiles/new_ york_final.v3.4-22-04.pdf?v_document_name=district_profile_new_york_final.v3.4-22-04