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North Colonie embraces diversity; offers training to staff and administrators

| February 27, 2018
Women and men sit in groups around rectangle tables with books, paper and baskets of tools.

North Colonie faculty, staff and administrators participate in diversity training.

In an ongoing effort to meet the needs of all students and strengthen the district’s inclusive school community, the North Colonie Central school district collaborated with The McLean Consulting Group to offer a professional learning opportunity to faculty, staff and administrators entitled, “Embracing Diversity.”

“It is fundamental that all of our students are provided with the support they need for educational success,” said Superintendent Joe Corr. “So it is important to educate our staff and our community on the proper way to treat those of different backgrounds.”

A woman sits sideways at a desk and a woman stands in the front of a room holding a piece of paper.

The McLean Group President Kathleen McLeann and Markeia Robinson lead group discussions.

The McLean Group is a New York State certified Minority Women Owned consulting firm that partners with organizations to create customized solutions that specialize in diversity/inclusion, team building and leadership development.

“When looking at the district’s mission statement, it begins and ends with the word all,” said Deputy Superintendent Kathy Skeals. “This was an excellent way to stay true to that by training a core team who could then share their knowledge and work district wide.”

The training was led by The McLean Consulting Group President Kathleen McLeann and Markeia Robinson over the course of several weeks. It began with an online survey to examine one’s ability to interact with people who are culturally different than themselves. From there the group met weekly for a discussion surrounding the text Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And concluded with train-the-trainer sessions to allow participants to share this work with others in the North Colonie community.

All faculty, staff and administrators were invited to participate in the training, however due to the nature of the group discussions, 25 of them were randomly selected to participate. All of which were from different schools and backgrounds.

“To be a part of a group of educators from all disciplines in our district has been eye opening and an incredible learning experience,” said Latham Ridge Kindergarten Teacher Scott Carpenter.

“To be offered a safe place to ‘lean in’ and discuss these issues that are impacting student and teacher success is just what is needed in this day and age,” commented Shaker High School Social Studies Teacher Andrea Stupp.

Additionally, Blue Creek Principal Annette Trapini explained that the trainings highlighted the importance of engaging in bold conversations to challenge one’s own beliefs and add to understanding the experiences and beliefs of others.

“Lack of discussion isolates people in pockets of misunderstanding, unexamined biases and beliefs,” said Trapini. “This training has allowed people to become more thoughtful about their own experiences and more open to and respectful of others.”

A group of women and a man sit clumped at a table looking at one another

North Colonie District Superintendent Joe Corr works with faculty and staff during weekly training sessions.

But even more important is that this change in thought process and focus on inclusiveness is coming from the top downward. Among many of the faculty, staff and administrators in these training sessions were the district’s very own Superintendent Corr and Deputy Superintendent Skeals.

“Joe and Kathy attend the trainings with us and their input is invaluable for us all,” said Carpenter. “The strong leadership of our administration was one of the things that drew me to this district, and I am honored to have their full support.”

“This diversity training is important, not just in the classroom or the school, but the whole community,” said Stupp. “So having our top administrators involved really sends a message.”

Both Stupp and Carpenter have found the training instrumental in how they will move forward in the district and the community. While Stupp believes this to be the most meaningful professional development experience she has had, Carpenter believes it has irreversibly altered him for the better.

“This training has undoubtedly changed me as a person and as a teacher,” said Carpenter.

Category: District News

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