Dear Lafayette Families –
This year our school community is larger and more diverse than we have ever been. We speak more than 31 languages in our building, our racial diversity is increasing, and we have three special education classrooms with students with a wide range of special needs. Our enrollment is now at 942 students, including many new families who have joined us. I want to take some time this Tuesday Bulletin article to share with you all a reminder of our Vision and Mission as a school community. This includes a relentless focus on diversity and equity.
“Every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life.”
“At Lafayette, we strive for every student to reach their full academic and social emotional potential through rigorous and joyful learning experiences provided in a nurturing and responsive environment.”
As a school community, we also have a relentless focus on creating an equitable school for all students. When we look at our academic and social emotional data, we are noticing that two groups of students are not achieving to their fullest potential – our exceptional learners and our black students. We define our exceptional learners as any student with an IEP, a 504, and our English language learners.
To that end, our staff has been working together to strategically address the achievement gap that persists for our exceptional learners and our black students. More specifically, we have a partnership this year with Relay Graduate School for Inclusive Schools Practices to address the needs of our exceptional learners. We are also partnering with Courageous Conversations to isolate race and grow as culturally relevant educators to meet the needs of our black students, who represent our fastest growing demographic.
Our teachers and staff have engaged in ongoing professional development throughout the school year, during both professional development days and regular collaborative planning meetings. Below is a brief outline of what we have done thus far as a staff:
- Inclusive Practices Needs Assessment
- PD Week – review achievement gap data and of inclusive practices
LEAP meetings/Team Meetings –
“What do we need to do for our exceptional learners?”
“How are/aren’t collective differences being respected”
- Student accommodations planning template
- Universal Design for Learning PD Pathways
- PD Week – Review of achievement gap data
- PD Week – Introduction to Courageous Conversations
- Admin Notes – ongoing articles to push thinking around culturally relevant pedagogy
- Equity Committee meets every two weeks
- Admin planning with Equity team from DCPS
- SheReigns and Empowering Males of Color student affinity groups meet
- Parents of Students of Color meeting
- Beyond Diversity training for some staff
I’m excited to continue our work together with our parent community groups as well. Our HSA is creating a Diversity and Inclusion committee to work with parents and our community to be sure that all families are welcome and included in our work as a community. Please be on the lookout for an invitation from Danielle Carter and Christina Daulton, our Community Outreach Chairs Our LSAT is also working to be inclusive in the discussions and decisions they help to guide. Our LSAT members were present at the meeting for the Parents of Students of Color to invite our families of color to connect with our LSAT members. Both the LSAT and the HSA are also actively seeking input and representation from a broad and diverse swath of our community.
I’m hopeful that you all will join us for our next HSA general meeting on December 9th at 6:30 pm. This will be a budget engagement session that will be jointly hosted by the HSA and the LSAT. I will also be speaking more about our work to address issues of inclusivity and diversity. In the meantime, as a community, take time to get to know someone new. Think about how you are or aren’t respecting differences as a member of our community. And most importantly, take time to appreciate the diversity that surrounds us every day. My challenge to each of us is to actively challenge the big or small inequities that you may witness as a member of our community – it really does take a village.
In other news of celebration and events, please consider joining us this evening for our Drama Club play at 7 pm this evening. We also look forward to seeing our 1st grade families at the Patriotic informance on Friday. I also wish all of you a very grateful Thanksgiving holiday where I hope you can take time to appreciate all the access and resources we enjoy as a rich and vibrant community.