Update on diversity and anti-bullying initiatives
Posted on September 17th, 2017

Parents, I’d like to update everyone on the conversations on bullying that we started at the end of last year. A set of actions have already been taken, and there’s a plan for community engagement throughout the year.

Action Already Taken
Rather than type a long list here, I’ll provide a few highlights:
Over the summer, 100% of Ardmore teachers and staff went through an equity training called Beyond Diversity. This training had already been planned for several months, and Ardmore is the only school in the entire Bellevue School District where everyone was provided with this training. I’m betting parents will start noticing changes in how teachers and staff approach some situations.

  • There will be several changes to recess. There will be a better adult:student ratio, and there will be an increased focus on recess as a time for teaching behavior and conflict management skills.
  • We completely redid the event we used to call "Taking care of business" to focus on welcoming parents and providing information on how the school works—everything from where to drop off kids in the morning to how the school addresses issues with student behavior. We hope everyone found the Welcome Tour and BBQ valuable, and we’ll continue these conversations throughout the year, with Curriculum Night being our next focus.
  • We found an outside, highly qualified expert to help facilitate community conversations on discouraging bullying and embracing diversity. Read more in the next section.
What Comes Next: Listening Tour
By no means do we think we’re done, and now that everyone is back from vacation, it’s time for a set of community discussions.
During the summer, we started working with an outside consultant: Erin Jones. From The Seattle Times:  Jones “has served in the state superintendent’s office as an assistant superintendent and has been a teacher and district administrator. She won the 2008 Washington State Milken Educator of the Year award and the state PTA Educator of the Year award in 2015.” (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/2016-election-results-washington-state-schools-superintendent/)  Among these and other accomplishments, Erin is an expert facilitator for the community conversations we’d like to have.
During the first part of the school year, we will hold a listening tour at venues throughout the community, facilitated by Erin or one of her delegates. These meetings are intended to be small-group sessions where we listen to your experience at Ardmore. We’ll use what we hear to build a list of issues to address. We’re aiming to complete this listening tour in 8 weeks.
Then, we’ll use a committee of parents, teachers, administrators, and school district staff to talk through the issues and propose solutions. The committee will be built with equitable representation of members from throughout our community, and it’s just one place where the staff’s “Beyond Diversity” equity training will come in handy.
What do we need YOU to do?
Right now, our ask is that all parents engage in the listening tour. We’ll provide lots of ways for folks to sign up to host a stop on the listening tour. We’ll have more asks throughout the year, but the listening tour is what to focus on now.
But as your PTSA President, I will make a more general ask of parents:
Please engage as a partner with the Ardmore staff and your fellow parents to help educate all students in our community about proper behavior and conflict management.
Math, science, and reading instruction don’t stop when the bell rings at the end of the day, and neither does instruction about socio-emotional learning (SEL). Ardmore has a research-backed methodology for teaching SEL. Take time to learn about it throughout the year, and partner with the adults around you to help teach our students.
Curriculum Night on September 14th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. is the next opportunity to hear about Ardmore’s approach to SEL and the methodology “Positive Behavior Interventions and Support” (PBIS).
Our students will make mistakes on their math and spelling tests, and they’ll make mistakes when interacting with each other. Ardmore will not shy away from more traditional forms of what we’d call “punishment,” and when certain lines are crossed, that’s what’s called for—students must learn that society will not tolerate certain behaviors, and there are real consequences for those behaviors. But in most cases, Ardmore’s first motion will be to use behavioral mistakes as moments to teach, not moments to punish. And if our students can’t be taught behavior and conflict management as elementary school students, it won’t get easier later in life—for them or for us.
If you have questions or input, please contact us at ardmoreptsa1@gmail.com. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you at Curriculum Night and on the Listening Tour!
Thank you,
JJ Cadiz
PTSA President
Marianna Sarbandi
PTSA Vice President
Nicholle Mineiro
PTSA Anti-Bullying & Diversity Workgroup Chair

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