Westerville City Schools has been steadily ramping up efforts to ensure all students have equitable access to opportunities as well as strengthening ongoing initiatives.
During a Strategic Planning update in 2013-14, diversity and access to opportunities came up as major themes. The district created the coordinator of Minority Student Achievement and the Minority Student Achievement Office — now named the Educational Equity Office — the following school year.
This office has created and is responsible for programs that relate to accelerating student achievement and equity in our district. Some examples include:
- Equal Opportunity Schools Lead Higher initiative - Our partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools is designed to increase the number of low-income and underrepresented students who enroll in AP/IB classes. The work we began in 2016 with our three high schools demonstrates that proactive, high quality and focused advocacy by trusted adults on behalf of students increases AP/IB access, while ensuring that students succeed once they enroll.
- Student Connections - This initiative connects students to diverse literature, mentors and tutors, as well as creates opportunities to engage and address issues surrounding students’ social and emotional needs. Students focus on creating pathways that connect them to careers and college opportunities, as well as increase their academic achievement.
- MODEL Mentoring - Mentors Opening Doors Enriching Lives is a middle school girls mentoring initiative that provides mentoring relationships with adult women in the Westerville community. The program aims to increase students’ self-worth, improve perspective toward education, provide support and encouragement and ultimately increase school performance.
- Spirit Book Club - This addresses the need to offer more culturally diverse learning materials in our schools. The book club is in all four middle schools. It provides “windows and mirrors” for all students through exposure to diverse books, specifically, Coretta Scott King award winning authors. In 2017 Heritage Middle School was awarded ? to purchase 1000 books based on the work of the Spirit Book Club in the building.
- Community Connectors Mentoring - Through a grant from the Ohio Department of Education called Community Connector, The FCA Character Development Program in collaboration with Westerville City Schools received the grant to establish a mentoring program that aims to build character and positive life skills in 8th grade boys and girls at Walnut Springs Middle School. The mentoring program is designed to assist students in developing skills that will build resilience, improve attendance, increase grades, and school success. Adult mentors will help students make the connection of what is possible and attainable which will lead to success in the 21st Century. Students meet twice a week with an adult mentor and twice a week with a peer mentor from Otterbein University.
- Equity Institute - The Equity Institute provides a series of culturally relevant workshops over the course of six months in which all equity team members engage to develop their capacity to foster positive change on behalf of the achievement of underrepresented students. The Institute offers opportunities to share, reflect, and plan to inform the equity work. Teams strengthen their knowledge, attitudes, skills and practices to create culturally responsive learning environments while developing strategies toward equity goals. Teams receive expert guidance and facilitation to work together to address the gaps and challenges they face in their education equity efforts. Dr. Antoinette Miranda, OSU Professor of School Psychology in the Department of Educational Studies leads the WCS Equity Institute.