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A message from the Superintendent Charles Smialek, Ph.D.

June 1, 2020

 

A committee of our parents, counselors, and administrators embarked in October on an initiative to ensure that our schools feature the most inclusive environments that we can possibly provide. Originally, we called this our “Inclusivity” committee, but the name soon evolved to a call to action: “Embrace All.”


Our committee interviewed student panels at our secondary schools, administered and analyzed a survey of all students that explored their feelings about their learning environments, and studied the practices of other school districts, colleges, and corporations. We used all of this learning to forge a resolution to our Board of Education last week that encapsulated the ways in which we plan to “Embrace All” next school year.


I do not normally use this space to communicate about specific resolutions that our Board approves, and I work even harder to steer clear of politically charged issues. However, after the horrifying events leading to and surrounding the death of George Floyd, “Embrace All” now seems to be our schools’ most important mission.


As leaders of learning for nearly 10,000 children, it is incumbent upon us to help our students become engaged citizens, ready to live, work, and prosper in the increasingly diverse society they will undoubtedly encounter when they leave our hallways and classrooms.


The work of the “Embrace All” committee provides a framework for accomplishing this important mission. Our Board resolution includes multiple commitments, but several stand out in importance. First, all classrooms in our school district will display our Embrace All logo and this statement:

  • We honor the uniqueness of each individual and embrace diverse backgrounds, values, and points of view to build a strong, inclusive community and to prepare students for lives in a multicultural society.


We will reference this commitment early in and throughout our school year to reinforce its importance. Next, we are now committed to partnering with the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio for the purposes of providing professional development every school year to our professional teaching staff.


For the 2020-21 school year, the workshop topic will be “Building Relationships and Creating Inclusive Educational Environments.” Finally, all schools will offer an extra-curricular group entitled “Embrace All.” The club will meet at least monthly and plan activities to help increase the inclusive nature of their school.


The importance of this work necessitates its ongoing nature; the resolution our Board approved Thursday is a starting point, not an end in itself. We invite you to join us next year as we expand our efforts; please email me at smialekc@parmacityschools.org if you are interested in helping.


We recognize the fortunate nature of our roles; many are watching the disturbing news stories of the last week wondering how they can help our society again find its “kinder, gentler” nature that past leaders have described. In our schools, we don’t have to wonder; we will honor our commitments to “Embrace All”, and, by doing so, model for our children the mindset that is so integral to the seachange that must occur to secure the world we desperately want for them.

 

Have a great week,

Charlie