New "Champions for Change" Promotes Inclusiveness, Academic Success for All Students

New "Champions for Change" Promotes Inclusiveness, Academic Success for All Students
Posted on 10/03/2016
This is the image for the news article titled New "Champions for Change" Promotes Inclusiveness,  Academic Success for All Students

When your schools begin to mirror the diverse world surrounding them and the workforce their students will one day enter, that’s something to celebrate. That’s exactly the intent of a new cultural proficiency training program for Lakota staff called “Champions for Change.”  At its core is building a stronger culture of inclusiveness that supports high achievement for students of all different backgrounds.

“Our staff is continuously challenged with meeting the needs of all types of learners. It’s something we embrace and take a lot of pride in,” said Lakota Acting Superintendent Robb Vogelmann. “At the same time, it requires an approach built on empathy and understanding. Our goal is always to provide our staff with the kind of training that will help them better reach their students.”

The program acknowledges a demographic trend at Lakota defined by steady changes in the cultural, racial, socioeconomic and even cognitive make-up of the district’s students and families.

 “Before you can ever break through to a child academically, you have to gain their trust. That means letting them know you care about them and are willing and able to help them jump any hurdles standing between them and a successful future,” said Aisha Moore, a teacher on special assignment who is leading the diversity charge.

The celebration of difference and inclusiveness has been a staple in Lakota schools. It’s practiced through a range of multicultural celebrations, poverty simulations, character education, service learning and empathy-based programs like the ID Project and “Be the Difference.”

The “Champions for Change” program takes that approach to a new level, offering staff the skills and strategies they can use in the classroom to better understand potential barriers and partner with families for the best possible outcome for all students.  

A “champion” from every Lakota school and administrative building will meet regularly for practical training provided through reading, open dialogue and even expert visitors on topics like cross-cultural communication, understanding poverty and barriers to the achievement gap. These leaders are charged with sharing their learnings and strategies with the rest of their colleagues, in a format that can be applied to their work.  

Watch this video to learn more about the new program and hear reactions from Lakota staff.