Our purpose at New Albany-Plain Local Schools is to create a culture of responsibility that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for every student. Our work in building an inclusive campus culture (BICC) is at the core of this purpose.
On February 28, a presentation was provided to the school board, as well as the community, on the progress made as a district this school year in building a learning community environment in which all members feel a deep sense of community. belonging.
Building on the work of our district’s Wellness Initiative, and specifically the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of the building committees last year, a framework has been developed to maintain the momentum of this work.
It was also important to hear additional voices from students, parents, and staff, through various focus groups, asking the questions: What does it mean to belong? What are the attributes, characteristics and behaviors that demonstrate a strong sense of belonging? And what are the practical steps we can take as a community to achieve this sense of belonging? All of this work and input was used to develop a BICC Guiding Framework.
We are intentionally working to build strong relationships with students so that they feel welcome, heard, and respected at school. We are committed to inspiring our school community to be accepting and willing to learn and build connections with people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. We recognize that this work is not a sprint; rather, it is a marathon. We accept the ongoing commitment required to achieve our vision. Our district motto, “Students First,” and our purpose statement adopted in 2016 codify that each and every student matters.
We are developing a culture of belonging that builds trusting relationships with all students and their families, a culture that encourages and supports cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills, and creates opportunities for connection that lead to inspiring learning experiences. In turn, these inspiring learning experiences will encourage and motivate all students and staff to achieve their best academic and developmental outcomes.
A historical perspective
Since 2018, students, staff, parents, and administrators have used the R-Factor program in classroom lessons and activities, parent meetings, and disciplinary issues to help all of us make good decisions. The “R” stands for “response”: how each of us responds to the “E” (events) in our daily lives, which produces an “O” (result).
Based on feedback shared by current and former students during the summer of 2020, the administration developed a Culture and Climate Plan to present to the board and our learning community. The plan identified lead staff and progress measures for each component in order to strengthen our efforts to meet the needs of all students.
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The framework for BICC presents five goals that are linked to measurable action steps. The goals and action steps are carried out by a number of people in the district: administrators, BICC facilitators (teaching staff), school counselors, wellness coaches, dean of students, building R-factor committees, etc. :
• Goal 1: Every student will have a strong sense of belonging to the school.
• Goal 2: Recruit, hire, and retain a diverse workforce.
• Goal 3: Increase cultural awareness of all teachers, students, administrators, and staff.
• Goal 4: Increase student engagement and learning opportunities to emphasize the value and importance of diverse student participation in all curricular and extracurricular activities.
• Goal 5: Increase parent and community involvement.
As previously mentioned, our ability to build an inclusive campus culture that meets the academic and developmental needs of all of our students is a marathon, not a sprint. We are committed to implementing measurable action steps with public accountability for our progress. It is our hope that this work will create a school culture where all students are safe, supported, and connected and experience a deep sense of belonging. The well-being of our students directly impacts their success in the classroom and on the field, court, or stage during their educational journey toward college and career.
This BICC work is also directly tied to our established Wellness Initiative, R-Factor program, Cultural Playbook, and previous efforts in campus culture development. Together, as One Team-One Family, we have the ability to maintain an inclusive community where everyone, and more importantly, every student, feels safe, supported, and connected. By respecting individual differences, we can foster a culture of belonging, where all students are welcomed and valued and treat others with kindness and respect.
Learn more at napls.us/BICC.
Jon Hood is the director of student services, safety and security at New Albany-Plain local schools.