A committee focused on promoting acceptance of growing diversity in Naperville Unit District 203 hosted a forum on equity, got more involved with the DuPage County branch of the NAACP and created a video to help recruit diverse teachers -- all within the past year.
Superintendent Dan Bridges told school board members Monday night membership of the diversity committee has grown while it has discussed how to provide equity and excellence in education and how to better reflect student diversity within the teaching and administrative ranks.
"They're having meaningful conversations about inclusive environments," Bridges said about the committee.
Future aims include developing parent education for people who move into the district and providing more opportunities for parents to network. A parent education series could cover "how to navigate the system and how to advocate for your student," Bridges said.
As they work to develop such parent information, administrators plan to continue attending meetings of an education committee under the DuPage County branch of the NAACP.
The organization's president, Mario Lambert of Naperville, said he agrees more should be done to help students and families who move to Naperville or other DuPage County districts assimilate to the culture of West suburban schools.
If a high school student used to dressing in sagging pants, wearing a baseball cap and sitting in the back of the room moves into the district, he might be perceived as uninterested in learning.
"There may need to be extra relationship-building because otherwise, he feels like he's on the outside," Lambert said. "We have to build a relationship with the kids to give them a chance to learn."
Deputy Superintendent Kaine Osburn said teachers are learning how to personalize instruction for all students, whether differences arise because of cultural background, religion, previous hometown or living situation, or any other factor.
Teachers and administrators are finding answers to questions like "What does differentiation look like once I understand where a student is coming from in their cultural or ethnic experience?" Osburn said. "How are we communicating with families that we haven't been reaching until now?"
Administrators Monday night also played part of a recruitment video developed to entice diverse candidates to teach in District 203. The video conveys three main points, Osburn said: Naperville is a "wonderful" community in which to live and work, the district has high standards for student achievement, and the district understands the importance of having a diverse staff.
Lambert said he supports the goal of bringing diverse teachers to the Western suburbs.
"We believe what creates a great outcome for student achievement is for all students to get exposure to diverse teachers and leaders," Lambert said. "It's not just good for the minority kids; it's good for all kids."