Equity Commitment at Winchester Public Schools
Embracing Diversity, Promoting Equity, Fostering Inclusion
Winchester Public Schools is committed to creating and maintaining an equitable environment that welcomes, values, respects, and supports individuals and communities who affirm human decency. Winchester Public Schools provides opportunities for learning, growth, engagement, and transformation to champion a diverse, equitable, and inclusive school division.
The Office of Equity and Family Empowerment is deeply committed to providing leadership, guidance, and oversight of the Division’s equity framework. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is central to our mission and is a key component in enhancing the success of diverse students, staff, and the community, as part of our all-encompassing goal of "Learning For All, Whatever It Takes." The equity and family empowerment coordinator supports and leads efforts by ensuring that equity is embedded in the work of all departments, schools, and central administration. This work is accomplished by creating the space for courageous conversations, celebrating diversity, expanding perspectives, implementing culturally responsive teaching frameworks, continuous delivery of equity-based professional development, developing capacity for cultural competency, and commitment to equity and inclusion. The office - led by Dr. Veronique N. Walker - is comprised of division-wide equity facilitators and school-based equity leads who drive the division’s efforts to create a welcoming, inclusive, safe, and equitable teaching and learning environment.
In 2015, Winchester Public Schools embarked on a bold strategic planning process that included redefining our course beliefs and mission. From that discussion and subsequent data analysis, it became evident that we needed to adjust and focus our work to match our beliefs. One of those areas was in relation to increasing academic and social outcomes for students of color, students with disabilities, and students with economic disadvantages.
Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
Equity in education is a significant challenge nationwide. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2017 the majority of public-school students were students of color, and more than half of public school students qualify for subsidized meals due to low family income. Public education has struggled to serve these students both adequately and equitably. When inequity in education persists, there is a cost to all involved including missed opportunities for economic development, greater dependence on government supports, and fewer Americans ready to serve and lead. School board members, superintendents, teachers, and families play a critical role in creating a climate and curriculum where all students receive the resources they need, so they graduate prepared for success after high school. (VSBA Newsletter, 2020)
We believe all students can be successful, regardless of where they come from, regardless of their heritage, what language they speak, etc. Because of this, we will always think from an equity point of view.
Dr. Jason Van Heukelum, Superintendent