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Meet Educators Addressing Inequities & Breaking Barriers in Their Schools & Districts

By: Purvi Patel on February 9th, 2021

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Meet Educators Addressing Inequities & Breaking Barriers in Their Schools & Districts

Equity  |  District Leadership  |  School Leadership

In September of 2020, Education Elements announced the first cohort of the “Systems for Education Equity Development," or SEED, Fellowship. The fellowship is an exclusive, multi-month, cohort experience for educational leaders to redesign a system within their school district that is contributing to creating inequity in the student experience. The inaugural SEED Fellowship cohort is a powerful group of educators made of leaders across 7 states including the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Individually they are amazing, and together and through the SEED experience, the fellows will have an additional set of tools as well as a network of support to address their local, systemic challenges around equity. 

The SEED Fellows began with the Connect phase in which fellows engaged in deep self-reflection around bias, power, and privilege and examined the invisible conditions that uphold inequitable systems within schools. They are now midway through the Include phase, in which they bring marginalized stakeholders to the table to define what a successful redesign could be. 

“The SEED Fellowship has pushed the limits with my thinking looking at my current system, understanding the inequitable conditions we uphold, brainstorming ways to disrupt the systems within our district's boundaries, connecting with other educators and various systems, and more,” reflected Cassandra Cristian from Klein ISD after the most recent SEED workshop. 

Fellows will continue to engage in workshops and readings, as well as deep conversations on topics of equity, invisible conditions, and the challenges present in leading organizations as they finish out the Include phase and engage in the final Create phase. “I love, love the in-depth conversations that we had about identity and how that influences perspective and decision making,” said Javi Rodiguez from D. C. Public Schools. Participants will use the Create phase to generate tangible prototypes, such as policies, insights, and documents, to inform the equity-driven redesign of a system within their schools and districts. 

The fellows represent a diverse group of perspectives and experiences in all aspects of identities, experiences, and roles. And, in their roles, they have the ability to create systemic change within their organizations. 

Connect Equitable Engagement Guide Cover Thumbnail

Explore our recently released Equitable Engagement Guide, Connect , to aid in your efforts to promote eqiuty in your school or district. Understanding how to connect with the challenges your community and stakeholders are facing is the first step of redesigning systems to work for all students, and this guide will walk you through how to do that.

 

Meet the Education Elements  SEED Fellows for 2020

A. Janelle Scharon

Illinois

Dr. A. Janelle Scharon is the Dean of Instruction in STEM with Noble Charter Network, IL. Dr. Scharon has taught high school science and computer science; and she represented the United States as a Fulbright specialist in teacher professional development and online learning. She currently serves on three task forces for the Illinois Board of Education and the Educator Advisory Council with Advance Illinois to improve teacher retention and teachers of color recruitment. 

Margery Covello

Pennsylvania

Dr. Margery Covello is CEO of Lindley Academy Charter School at Birney in the Logan section of North Philadelphia, PA. Previously she was the Chief of Staff at American Paradigm Schools, the Assistant Dean in the College of Business Administration at Fordham University, and formerly of the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter High School where she helped to reimagined school to highly engaged students. 

Shaunta’ Bailey

Texas

Dr. Shaunta’ Bailey has been teaching, mentoring, and coaching individuals for 23 years. She is an Adjunct Professor for Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Gatesville, TX and a Consulting Trainer-Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Dr. Bailey grew up as a military child, and understands the significance of being culturally sensitive and inclusive. Her philosophy is to value students, teachers, parents, and community members envisioning them as success agents challenging limitations and growing collaboratively.

Jill Badalamenti

Missouri

Jill Badalamenti serves as a Technology Specialist in Ladue School District, MO. She is a passionate educator who believes in pushing the limits of education, and looks for ways in which her students can be empowered to take charge of their learning.

Cassandra Christian

Texas

Cassandra Christian currently serves as an Executive Director of Teaching and Learning in Klein Independent School District, TX, where she is supporting, coaching and supervising principals. She began her teaching career in Lexington, GA where she attended as a student. She opened and led schools as a principal. She believes that every student deserves to have the best learning experience and this drives her work daily.  

Sophia "Sunny" Sinco

Washington

Sophia "Sunny" Sinco is a nationally recognized teacher and now a Success Dean in the Highline School District, WA. Sunny is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, Wit & Wisdom Fellow, and 2018 Green Dot Teacher of the Year. She is interested in rigorous, relevant instruction and meaningful community partnership. 

Victor Javier Rodriguez

District of Columbia

Victor Javier Rodriguez is a Program Coordinator within the Equity Strategy and Programming Team at District of Columbia Public Schools, DC. He oversees the Empowering Males of Color Initiative which aims to address and rectify the achievement gap of our Black and Brown young men via strategic and intentional co-curricular engagement across our district. His passion and focus are addressing and rectifying systemic and institutional inequities within educational systems to create an equitable and accessible educational experience.

Amy Barger

Georgia 

Amy Barger is the Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching for Fulton County Schools.  She leads a team of dedicated educators who strive to ensure that each student learns every day by providing a high-quality curriculum, instructional resources and professional development to 6800 PreK-12 teachers and instructional leaders across the district. 





For more information, visit https://www.edelements.com/seed-fellowship.

 

About Purvi Patel

Purvi is a Design Principal at Education Elements on the Design & Implementation Team, working with districts and their school teams to improve the learning experience and educational outcomes for all students. She is committed to partnering with forward-thinking leaders and educators to reimagine learning and school to ensure every student’s needs are met. Purvi started her career in education as a Spanish teacher in Charlotte, NC and Richmond, VA, where she served as a teacher leader to implement data driven and collaborative practices. She is joining Education Elements from District of Columbia Public Schools, where she worked on the Innovation and Design Team to support both the Design Lab and LEAP. On the Design Lab, Purvi provided DCPS school leaders and their teams with the time, space, and resources to develop bold new school models. More specifically, Purvi coached four schools through the redesign process using the principles of human-centered design and equityxdesign. On the district’s teacher professional development program LEAP, which allowed teachers to receive weekly development and support, she offered individualized support to schools, collaborated with subject specialists on content for professional development, and played a key role in the evaluation and redesign of LEAP for SY17-18. For both programs Purvi strategically used design thinking to create experiences and trainings, challenge thinking, and coach leaders through the development of new programming. Purvi received a dual Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia and a MAT from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

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