MCS Diversity Planning
The mission at Maryville City Schools is to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and responsible citizenship. Our focus is to empower and support students in helping them to reach their highest potential to make a positive impact in their ever-changing world. We know that as an educational body, we have a heightened responsibility to teach our students to show respect and dignity to others while working to eliminate social and racial disparity. We are passionate about cultivating and celebrating diversity within the school system and stand united against the negative impact of racism upon communities. We welcome open communication and seek ways to improve our work toward the creation of inclusive, safe, and supportive systems for those who are marginalized while cultivating a heightened awareness of perspective and mutual respect. We acknowledge that we are not perfect, that work is to be done, and there is always room for growth and change. We want to do our part to make our community a stronger and better place to learn and grow.
- PURPOSE AND PROCESS
- ACTION STEPS
- RESPONSE: PETITION TO REMOVE THE REBEL NAME
- REPORT WITH DATA SUMMARY (2/8/2021)
- REPORT APPENDICES
In 2018, Maryville City Schools began a renewed prioritization of Diversity Initiatives as part of our strategic planning, needs assessments, and survey data. The response was and continues to be comprehensive – strengthen training, programming, and culture to be inclusive and to better meet the needs of marginalized students and families. The Administrative Teams, district Diversity Team, and School Improvement Committees have worked together to develop goals and action steps to eliminate social and racial disparity as we know these are destructive to our communities. Our goals are inclusive and refrain from reducing diversity to a focus only on color or race. Instead our goals attend to social, economic, behavioral, religious, special needs, and race disparities and oppression. Racism, intolerance, and exclusive communication and actions are dehumanizing to everyone it touches.
Genesis Diversity Solutions, October 2018 - Dr. Benjamin Lewis was hired to lead an in-depth district self-assessment, provide leadership consultation, advise on recruitment and empowerment of diversity in hiring practices, and deliver training to administrators and staff members in the following topics: Dimensions of Diversity, From Unconscious Biases to Inclusive Community, Courageous Conversations, Empowering Diverse Students, Cultural Confidence in our Global Community, Creating Healthy Cultures, Recruit-Employee-Retain.
Diversity Team, 2019-2020 – Through our work, this district-wide team identifies the negative impact of diversity intolerance, acknowledges our own lack of understanding, but seeks to work hard to make positive changes in our schools through practical solutions, one person at a time. The mission statement for the group is to empower faculty and students to create an inclusive, safe, and supportive system for those who are marginalized while cultivating a heightened awareness of perspective and empathetic respect. Current and past action steps include increasing curriculum, library resources, and professional development.
- To acknowledge racism and exclusive actions exist in our schools and community
- To increase staff and student awareness and evaluate our misconceptions, prejudices, practices, and biases that benefit some while disadvantaging others.
- To uplift and serve marginalized and disenfranchised individuals in order to help strengthen our communities.
- To prioritize the development of inclusive language, curriculum, discipline, outreach, established routines, and practices.
- To continue the push to close the achievement gap for subgroups in an effort to open more doors and opportunities for their futures.
- To develop structures to encourage diverse stakeholders to provide input and feedback in school improvement decisions.
- To increase diversity of staff to better mirror or surpass our student diversity population.
Creation and Charge of the Task Force
Sep – Dec 2020
Resource Review – Gather Feedback
- Feedback from our school community, past and present
- Action Plans and Outcomes of schools facing similar decisions
- Strategically seek guidance and ideas from various stakeholder groups
Dec 2020 – Jan 2021
Compilation of Diversity Strategies and Ideas to Improve Inclusiveness and Understanding in our Community
Report provided to the Maryville City Schools Board of Education for their review and response
Instructional resources compiled and prepared to share with individual schools
The decision to change the school nickname is solely under the leadership and decision of the Maryville City School Board of Education. Our community has polarizing opinions regarding this issue. As with all controversial and complex decisions, the school board directs our school system toward a methodical and intentional review and analysis. Many important issues have been raised and great ideas have been shared that will complement our current plans to expand diversity understanding and increase inclusiveness. Conversations have already begun that are much deeper and broader than a potential nickname change, and these community conversations need to continue. A task force will be created to gather and assimilate data and to provide a report to the board of education. The Board will then decide what action, if any, it wants to take. All provided correspondences, petitions, and information will be provided artifacts for the committee.
While we take these imperative action steps, we will continue to focus on overall diversity and the goals and plans set forth in our strategic plan of creating inclusive environments for all student to feel engaged and included. In addition, the board fully supports rigidity and disciplinary actions regarding racist expressions of the Confederate flag, the Confederate soldier, racist slurs, offending and intolerant communication or actions. Increased monitoring of all sporting events and school related events will occur to ensure the name “Rebels” for the 2020-2021 school year will only reflect the highest caliber of citizenship, void of any hint or gesture of racism.
We understand we are a small piece of a large puzzle, but working together we can make a difference.
Maryville City Schools
Diversity Survey Report to the Maryville City Schools Board
On July 14, 2020, during the “Director of Schools Report” agenda item in the Maryville City Schools
Board Meeting, a public statement was issued and provided in response to calls to change the name
REBELS at Maryville High School. This statement, found in Appendix A, included a Position Statement,
Goals, and Actions Steps from the district’s current instructional diversity team. It also outlined the
steps to be taken in response to the petition to remove the Rebel name. Primarily, the report detailed
the formation of a Diversity Task Force to gather and assimilate data as a priority and response with the
outcome to be an eventual report from the Director to the School Board.
The Diversity Task Force was formed with the following member representation:
- Jaina Castro
- Noriko Chapman
- Penny Ferguson
- Delali Gadzekpo
- Sharon Hannum
- Larry Headrick
- Heather Hilton
- Benjamin Lewis
- DJ Porter
- Tom Taylor
- Ricky Upton
- Mike Winstead
The Diversity Task Force convened in two face‐to‐face meetings (September 30, 2020 and November 11,
2020) and through additional digital correspondences. This group identified the different groups of
stakeholders to target for the gathering of survey information. In addition, they worked collaboratively
to develop comprehensive surveys to capture not only opinions regarding the Rebel name, but to also
capture opinions regarding the culture and climate of issues related to diversity and inclusiveness in all
seven schools. The team reviewed a bank of national survey questions and then revised and edited to
compile balanced and comprehensive surveys for the Maryville stakeholders. In addition to a range of
demographic items, the survey questions focused on perceptions, opinions, and experiences regarding
equity, inclusive education, and a safe environment, free of bullying and harassment in our schools. The
final question at the end of the survey captured opinions regarding the MHS nickname, Rebels.
The Diversity Task Force identified the following stakeholders to receive a Diversity Opinion Survey. The
Survey instruments and aggregate results can be found in the appendices as indicated below.
- Grades 8‐12 Current MCS Students ‐ Appendix B
- MCS Parents (grades 1‐12) – Appendix C
- MCS Staff – Appendix D
- MHS Alumni – Appendix E
- Community Members – Appendix F
Surveys were distributed and collected in January 2020. The combined total for all surveys was 4,463
responses. A summary of the makeup of the surveys and number of responses is provided in the table
NUMBER OF QUESTIONS INVITATIONS TO RESPOND NUMBER REPONDING
Current students (8-12) 33 2,003 1,313
MCS parents (1-12) 28 4,905 1,301
MCS Staff 37 876 417
Community members 20 419+ 271
MHS Alumni 38 2,492 1,161
The majority of the survey questions focused on the multi‐facets of diversity. The information gleaned
from these questions will be used as a springboard for continuous school improvement. One question
regarding opinions of the use of the Rebel name appeared at the end of each survey.
A brief history of the Rebel name was provided prior to the following question, “Which of the following
statements most closely aligns with your stance regarding the Rebel nickname?” The answer options
are listed below.
a. Abolish the Rebel name because it is considered by some to be offensive and racist. The original intent of the nickname and the historical actions that occurred at MHS are irrelevant.Students (6.3%), Parents (11.4%), Staff (11.5%), Alumni (15.7%), External (27.8%)
b. Abolish the Rebel name because of the historical connection of linking the name to Confederate symbols and imagery at MHS. The original intent is overshadowed by historical actions.Students (12.2%), Parents (14.4%), Staff (16.8%), Alumni (24.4%), External (34.7%)
c. Retain the Rebel name but take action steps to raise awareness of the historical perspective of the name and condemn racial intolerance. Strengthen the previous actions of 2000 and 2005 to take increased formal action to prohibit any person from wearing or bringing any depictions of Confederate symbols and imagery on school property and during school events.Students (23.4%), Parents (24.5%), Staff (31.9%), Alumni (21.1%), External (11.0%) d. Retain the Rebel name. Original intent was not racist. The connection to Confederate symbols and imagery is in the past. This does not reflect present actions and mindsets.
Students (46.4%), Parents (45.4%), Staff (34.5%), Alumni (36.9%), External (23.3%)
e. No opinion on the Rebel name.
stakeholders to provide foundational information to district and school administrators and school board
members. The information gathered will inform the Maryville City Schools’ Strategic Plans and shape
goals, strategies, and action steps to improve diversity, mutual respect, and inclusiveness in all seven
schools. As part of our school improvement planning process, this requires analysis and reflection, and
that deeper work takes time. School leadership may choose to expand feedback opportunities to
include additional surveys, committee work, and collaborative engagement. To facilitate teamwork and
prioritized action, principals will work with their teams on these action plans through the end of
Summer 2021. Their diversity analysis, goals, strategies, and action plans will roll into our greater,
annual district and school improvement plans.
Maryville City Schools District is grateful to all stakeholders for providing opinions, reflections, and
suggestions to provide guidance to make all of our schools more welcoming, inclusive, and safer for all
Dr. Mike Winstead
Director of Maryville City Schools