Take a look at how East Central Indiana schools are working to become more diverse and inclusive.
East Central Indiana is constantly working to become a more diverse and inclusive area. While efforts can be seen throughout its communities, several of the region’s education institutions have deployed a variety of initiatives. Muncie Community Schools, for example, embeds culturally relevant teaching and learning in everything from its curriculum and professional development to its social-emotional learning and family and community involvement. We sat down with Rhonda Ward, the district’s director of diversity and assistant principal at the high school, to learn more about her role and the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
What does the director of diversity role entail?
It entails, first and foremost, ensuring that our schools are safe … I lead our District Equity Team, which is made up of board members, our CEO, and then we have some district administrators on that team and then we have a teacher. So what we do is we meet quarterly, and we discuss goals and strategies that we are trying to implement and ways to improve our district.
How is the district keeping DEI at the forefront?
We also have implicit-bias training that we try to provide for our teachers, bus drivers and school resource officers – we try to put that training before them throughout the year. We try to ensure that our teachers are managing their biases and kind of trying to change those behaviors and making sure our students feel safe – part of that is making sure they are being treated fairly.
How are you involving students in your DEI efforts?
Well, one of the things we’re doing is I lead our Diversity CATS (Cultural Awareness Transforming Students), and that’s a group at the high school. In this group, we give students a chance to voice their concerns and also identify any potential problems. We also provide them a voice to give us solutions.
How have the DEI efforts impacted not only the school, but the community as a whole?
We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community in terms of the different groups that we’ve started. The community wants to see more Black and brown students involved. They want to see them with more opportunities. They like being able to see that we have Black and brown teachers on board that are educating students.
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