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Community Representation Matters: Centering Students Through Centering Their Community in Staffing

John Clemente, Maria Ventura, Glenn George — South Bronx Community Charter High School

A Washington Post analysis of school district data from 46 states and Washington DC finds that only 7% of Black students are enrolled in a district where the share of Black teachers matches or exceeds that for students. For Latinx students, it is 0.1%. In stark comparison, 99.7% of white students attended a district where the faculty is as white as the student body. We need a national movement aimed at ensuring that every school is composed of a team of adults that is reflective of the community it serves.

In response to this disparity, the leadership of South Bronx Community Charter School designed the Community Beacons Program - a strategy for schools to make bold strides towards a workforce reflective of the populations they serve. SBC has found that early career professionals from the community are ideally suited to take on new roles in education that support the mental health and social-emotional development of young people. Therefore, the school has pioneered a model for staffing that addresses both of these urgent needs and can be replicated in other communities nationally.

During the session, an SBC leader, staff member and student will engage the audience in reflecting if the children they serve see themselves in their staff members, what are the benefits of community representation in staff hiring, and discuss what hiring practices can be implemented in order to create a school community reflective of the broader community.

The student facilitator will give voice to the impact having multiple staff members from their community has had on their sense of belonging and motivation. We believe that centering the community is centering our students. Through our model of having community members serve as staff members, specifically in our Youth Development department we have seen the following impact: 91% of students feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms, and cafeteria 96% of students say that students rarely or never harass, bully, or intimidate each other because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation at SBC. SBC’s student attendance rates are consistently 5% above NYC’s average high school Over 90% of the student body report that all staff care about their learning and success. 100% of students apply to college and complete an internship.

By the end of the interactive discussion, participants will… Reflect on how much their current staff reflects the community they serve Evaluate what current hiring practices are creating the current makeup of their staff Develop at least one change in hiring practices that will allow for more staff that is reflective of the community the school serves

Conversational Practice

Community Representation Matters: Centering Students Through Centering Their Community in Staffing

Outline:

10 mins Today’s Topic: Why Representation in Staffing Matters Video: 'Black Panther' premiere in Oakland delights, inspires fans

Pair and Share: What is a moment where you saw an aspect of your identity whether it was your race, ethnicity, gender, hometown, etc. represented either on screen or in person that had an effect on you. What was that effect?

10 mins The WHY Open Dialogue: Based on what you shared, why does representation matter? How does representation connect to our goals of student-centered classrooms?

20 mins WHAT IS THE OBSTACLE Pair and Share: What are the obstacles that prevent community members from being staff members at your school? Think Nationally, State-wide, City-Wide, and Locally.

For example, lack of access to educational resources or degrees to become a staff member.

20 Mins WHAT ARE SOLUTIONS: Pair and Share: Choosing ONE obstacle mentioned, what is a specific creative solution that could be implemented in order to have more access to community members as staff members in schools?

20 mins QUESTION AND ANSWER Brief Overview of SBC’s Process and Journey to implement more community representation and the impact it has had on the school Then, Open Q&A about the model

10 mins REFLECT: Share what you will leave this discussion with and what actions you will take in your school community

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