In some way, we have all been affected by the upheaval and inequities throughout society, but depending on where we come from, we’ve experienced them differently. Students can’t concentrate with all of the noise. They tell us they want their voices to be heard and to feel more connected. Our community is fortunate to have teachers, staff and administrators who are dedicated and passionate about raising awareness and promoting different ideas to improve the school culture to be more equitable, inclusive and supportive of all.
Scotia-Glenville Central School District is seeking information to gauge how well our organizational culture reflects the climate—or feelings and experiences of our community. The district has been working across spectrums to build a greater understanding that will result in a distinct plan of action that ensures equity consistency in resources, policies and procedures.
Inclusive leadership considers:
- awareness of personal and organizational biases,
- being open to criticism,
- the importance of humility in addressing biases,
- and the commitment to hold ourselves and each other accountable.
“As responsible educators, there has to be a way to help people understand that yes, you can like someone and think they are a good person, but that doesn’t give that person the right to do something that oversteps boundaries.” –Superintendent Susan Swartz
Superintendent Swartz has led the charge for professional and personal development opportunities for every person who is employed with the district. She has the attitude that the only way we can do it wrong is by doing nothing at all. Not everyone is in the same space and level of understanding and that is ok. The first step is to accept the challenge to understand differences and grow from there. Embrace differences, have open conversations about difficult topics, and come at it with the understanding that once the work is started – it never stops.
Strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion at S-G
For two years, the Scotia Glenville School District has been working with Tangible Development, a Capital Region based diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm, to help us identify ways we can become a more welcoming school district.
“DEI can be some of the most important and sensitive work an organization can undertake. Team Tangible takes great pride and effort in creating safe spaces built on trust and confidentiality. We need you to feel safe to share authentically so we can gather the best data and ensure that as many community members as possible feel heard. Using this data, SGCSD leadership can create tangible plans that will help ensure the Scotia-Glenville School District is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for their students of today and their students of the future.” –Dr. LB Hannahs, Tangible Development
Opportunity to learn from each other
The district’s first step in this healing work was to acknowledge and accept that there are unaddressed problems. With a focus to understand the issues impacting our community, we embarked in responsive dialogue sessions and anonymous surveys. There was a lot of goodwill to participate in this conversation. Involvement was voluntary, and we want to thank everyone who took part. Your input will help us to better serve our increasingly diverse community.
We started by engaging the SGCSD leadership and staff. More than 300 members participated in:
- Capacity building sessions
- Surveys and interviews
- Focus groups
In the fall of 2022, the district took the next step in inviting parents, caregivers, students, and community members to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences around diversity, equity, and inclusion at SGCSD. Tangible Development facilitated surveys and focus groups and collected all the data, analyzed it, and provided SGCSD with a report in February.
On February 13, 2023, Dr. LB Hannahs from Tangible Development addressed the board with the second phase of findings from students, parents, caregivers, and community. Click the link for the presentation.
Right now, the S-G administration is examining the data and looking for patterns and opportunities to build bridges, establish trust, and find common ground.
“This is not top-down work from the district administration. It’s taking the lived experiences of the people who voluntarily chose to share it. There is power in those conversations.” –Karen Swain, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
We encouraged students and community members to anonymously share their voice through an online survey and participate in focus groups. The purpose was to deeply listen and understand our different perspectives, to broaden our own thinking, and work to identify areas to change for the greater good.
Although the different peer groups explored the same subject matter, the conversations were relevant toward the age levels participating. The discussions were respectful and civil.
Focus groups and inclusion interview participants
- 8 students
- 24 parents/caregivers
- 63 employees
- 6 BOE inclusion interviews
Survey response counts
- 791 students
- 79 parent/caregiver
- 311 DEI Climate assessment tool
Survey response rates
- 66% students
- 70% parent/caregiver
- 58% DEI Climate assessment tool
What is a focus group?
Focus groups were led by Tangible Development, our outside partners in this work. During each focus group, the facilitator encouraged participants to share their thoughts and opinions about what DEI looks and feels like at SGCSD and what more, if anything, they’d like to see happen.
There are no right or wrong answers. Focus Groups are not designed to provide more project information. They are not information sessions or workshops.
an opportunity for students to talk about their experiences and thoughts
- Students were asked to sign up in advance with permission from a parent or caregiver.
- Focus Groups take about an hour during school.
- Focus groups are confidential.
For Parents, Guardians and Community Members
There were in-person and virtual focus group sessions for parents and guardians of SGCSD students. Focus groups last for approximately one hour. The same or similar parent-focused questions will be asked in each offered session, so you only need to attend one.
About the Survey
Who Should Take The Surveys?
- Student Survey: Students in grades 7-12 in the Scotia-Glenville School District had the opportunity to take the survey in their extended homeroom period.
- Community Survey: Parents and guardians of any current SGCSD student (K-12), residents, workers, and business owners within the Scotia-Glenville School District over the age of 18.
What are the survey and focus groups measuring?
They are measuring ways in which Scotia-Glenville schools are diverse, equitable, and inclusive as well as how effective the schools are at maintaining such an environment.
What if I don’t take the survey?
All the surveys are voluntary, so you are not required to take it, but it will be a missed opportunity for you to share your voice.
About The Focus Groups
Who will be present in the focus groups?
- Student Focus Groups:
- Students who signed up to participate and have permission from a parent/guardian
- A Tangible Development facilitator
- A Tangible Development scribe (notetaker)
- A SGCSD staff member to ensure student safety and comfort
- Parent and Guardian Focus Groups:
- Parents and guardians (of current SGCSD students) who signed up to participate
- A Tangible Development facilitator and a Tangible Development scribe (notetaker)
Will Focus Groups be recorded?
No, we use a scribe to take notes during the focus group so that the data can be anonymous from the beginning.
How can I be sure that I will remain anonymous?
Survey: Neither SGCSD nor Tangible Development keeps track of who has and has not taken the survey, so rest assured that you will remain anonymous.
Focus Groups: Tangible Development does not keep track of who has and has not participated in the focus group. As part of their policy, specific names and other identifying details are not documented in their notetaking. However, you will see the names and faces of other participants so you will not be anonymous to those in the session.
Both: No SGCSD employee will receive or see the raw data collected by Tangible Development. We will receive a thematized report that leaves participants confidential and anonymous.
What happens next?
The results of the assessment will inform the next phase for SGCSD’s strategic diversity planning.
Will the results be made available to the public?
We are committed to communicating the findings with the community in a manner that is transparent and honest.
The Scotia-Glenville School District stands together with the 24 school districts that comprise the Capital Region BOCES area in our shared responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. It is our commitment that the diverse experiences and perspectives of our students, families and staff will be recognized, reflected and embraced in our educational institutions.
While our 24 school communities in the Capital Region each have a unique makeup, we all share one commonality: Our desire to provide an equitable educational experience that ensures opportunities and the necessary support for success for all students. It is our pledge to embrace the diverse experiences, values, beliefs, backgrounds and perspectives of our communities as we endeavor to prepare our students for the society they will encounter in life beyond our school systems.