In its third year of working towards Excellence through Equity, the Sweetwater District hosted its first Inaugural Equity Symposium. The event, held at Olympian High School was attended by more than 1,500 district teachers, faculty and staff.
The theme of this year’s Symposium suggests “Excellence through Equity” and the districts goal was to share ideas and possibilities as well as explore challenges related to the implementation of educational equity in our schools.
The symposium looked at student equity through the lens of relationships and the essence of education being based on creating a culture of excellence for all students.
“Today is about continuing our work around teaching, learning and equity,” said Sweetwater District Superintendent Dr. Karen Janney. “Our classrooms often time are the safe harbor for many of our students in an uncertain world. It’s crucial that we empower each student to attain their personal and academic goals while they are with us.”
There were more than 80 different panelists and presenters who shared their knowledge and experiences during high engaging sessions and workshops throughout the symposium.
Dr. Pedro Noguera, a distinguished Professor of Education and Information Studies at UCLA keynoted the symposium. Noguera’s research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global texts.
In his keynote address, Noguera said he was heartened by his visit to Sweetwater, and he noted schools need to get in the culture of affirming students. He said, “When that is done, kids rise above their circumstances. When they are left to figure things out on their own, that is when schools produce inequalities.”
During his keynote, Noguera shared that equity and equality are not the same. So how do we accommodate the differences amongst our students? He suggests, “by eliminating barriers in learning for all students. Be the advocates and barriers when needed for children who have none.”
Today more than ever, there is a need and desire for more inclusive schools, greater access and opportunities for students, fairness, and improved student outcomes.
“The Sweetwater District is committed to promoting excellence for staff, students, schools, communities, the district office, and both systematic and systemic programs,” said Dr. Fulcher, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Culture and Support Services. “We will continue to make this year the year to make a difference in the lives of our students.”