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.
Diversity Initiatives – Purpose and Process
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.
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
- 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.
Response to the petition to remove the Rebel name
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.