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A Message from Superintendent Pero: Cultural Proficiency Training and Engagement Continues with Focus Groups and School Strength Reviews

The District continues its initiative toward improving cultural proficiency, educational equity, and student success with several events and workshops scheduled for December. Cultural proficiency is defined as an ongoing process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, sexes, ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, abilities and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each.

On December 3, a cohort of 60 PCSD teachers, parent leaders, administrators, secretaries, paraprofessionals, school board members, Pittsford town supervisor and Pittsford village mayor will reconvene to study historical systemic barriers in American school systems. This will build off of the two-day summer workshop with Generation Ready. The cohort will also discuss current educational practices that have lost relevance for our students as well as cultural correlations to achievement gaps. This and future workshops will be delivered by Generation Ready, a leading provider of leader and teacher professional learning services in the nation.

During the weeks of December 2 and December 9, District and school leaders will participate in “equity walks” at the secondary schools with the Generation Ready experts. Elementary school equity walks will be held in the future.

These walks are designed to provide a thorough look at the school environment and assess the strengths of each school. Discipline policies and various data points, including achievement, suspensions, referrals, and AP class student selection, will also be reviewed.

Additionally, Generation Ready consultants will conduct focus groups for students, parents/community members, Board of Education and staff members. These meetings will serve as one of the diagnostics for the District and individual schools on the path to achieving a fully culturally proficient environment. Focus group participants have been selected in conjunction with the PTSA based on interest and availability.

The workshop, focus groups, and equity walks are components of the second part of Generation Ready’s cultural proficiency training. The complete program consists of four parts that will culminate in the development of strategic plans for the District and each school building.

This inside-out approach encourages school leaders and educators to reflect on their own understandings and values about others – validating their current beliefs and feelings of people and encouraging change without threatening their own self-worth. This enables a shift in the culture by tackling ethnic and social gaps, and developing an environment shaped by diversity.