Case Study: Wyoming Schools – Creating a District Culture of Inclusion
It takes three years to transform a culture to be more inclusive of every leader, staff member, student, parent, and community member; it is critical for all stakeholders to share this extended commitment to change to ensure success. So Wyoming City Schools near Cincinnati, Ohio knew they needed to be fully committed to the effort of creating a district culture of inclusion.
Wyoming City School District serves nearly 2000 students (23% are racially diverse and 77% are white) and has been recognized as a high-performing district at the local, state and national levels for many years. Recognizing the challenge for all students across our nation to become globally competent, Wyoming embarked on an initiative for staff, students, administrators, parents, and community. They based this on a belief that our schools and community should acknowledge and demonstrate an awareness of and appreciation for individual differences while working to create a universally embracing and welcoming environment.
The Culture of Inclusion on the Pathway to Global Competency Project began in January 2018. Superintendent Dr. Susan Lang assembled a pilot group comprised of community members, teachers, administrators, and board members to complete six months of training on Cultural Intelligence that include: Cultural Awareness, Cultural Knowledge, Cultural Strategies, and Cultural Action. After the group completed this intensive training and reflection, it was clear that Wyoming was ready to take this initiative on at a broader level.
The long-term goal of the project is to train all staff in Cultural Intelligence in the 2018-2019 school year to enhance the learning environment. The ability to adapt behavior and change mindsets, in order to treat others with dignity and respect, will move Wyoming beyond tolerance and understanding to embrace inclusion, which is the desired outcome. As a result, Wyoming students will be prepared to become leaders who have a growth mindset, possess an interest in different cultures and improved language skills, and have the capacity to work productively in cross-cultural interactions and on teams.
It is vital to create a culture of inclusion as schools are rapidly becoming more culturally diverse. Cultural intelligence is an essential capability in our schools because it allows administrators, teachers, staff and students to acquire new behavior and change mindsets, in order to treat others with dignity and respect, and to move beyond tolerance to inclusion.
Parents, community members, teachers, staff, and students of Wyoming City Schools were asked in focus groups to share opportunities to enhance inclusion. The results were profoundly helpful in areas like communication, cultural knowledge, staff/program/teaching support, and education opportunities.
The Game Plan
The first step along the journey for Wyoming City Schools was to define what would occur in Phase I and Phase II. The first part of Phase I involved establishing a Steering Committee and defining the leadership structure. The leadership structure included Board Members, Parents, Administrators, Principals and Teachers. Competencies were then identified and defined for Cultural intelligence by the District to include: Cultural Awareness, Cultural Knowledge, Cultural Strategies, Cultural Action.
Once the competencies were established, a Culture of Inclusion survey was administered to students, staff. Focus groups were conducted and the needs identified were related to communication, cultural knowledge, social media challenges, staff/program/teaching support, and educational opportunities.
The results from the survey and focus groups guided the development of customized content for the series, which highlighted areas that needed enhancement in the District.
As a result of the pilot program, the Wyoming Parents, Leaders and Educators who participated are dedicated to advancing a culture of inclusion. Teacher and staff engagement, involvement, and open-minded participation in the Culture of Inclusion sessions is vital to Wyoming City Schools success and the experience of all students.
Curious to see the full story and more results of Wyoming’s efforts? Download the full white paper here.
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