By Tia Luck
Diversity in nature is what makes a strong and resilient ecosystem. From Red Cliff to Dotsero, we are surrounded by diversity. The rivers, aspen groves, high alpine, and the collection of individuals who make up our community work together to make Eagle County thrive.
Equity is one of the most pressing matters of our time. Eagle County Schools is taking the initiative to improve opportunities for all, regardless of our differences. Differences include culture, race, gender identity, ability, age, beliefs, economics, learning preferences and academic history.
Working toward equity harnesses all of our differences for social good and creates a community where everyone can be successful. We are taking a sustained, multi-generational approach to reduce the predictability of a student’s success based on their background. We want everyone graduating with confidence and hope for their future.
Our process begins by exploring our individual culture and implicit bias. Implicit bias is not charged with positive or negative intent; it is merely one’s perspective based on their life experiences. Recognizing our views allows us to build stronger relationships across differences.
Creating inclusive schools
The most powerful aspect of this work is the Youth Equity Stewardship. Beginning this month, secondary students, along with adult mentors, will come together to build an empowered sense of leadership to provide positive influence over the climate of their schools. This arts-based program is designed to build deeper relationships and connections across the spectrum of identities.
Teachers and staff will continue to engage in learning opportunities to create inclusive environments where all students feel valued and can be successful. By fostering culturally responsive environments, we model being inclusive for our students.
Our goal is to see incidents of bullying decline, engagement increase, and student ownership take hold. Achievement increases because students realize that they matter. Not just to the adults in the building, but to one another, and most importantly, to themselves.
Part of our mission is to create a community-wide approach. We hope you’ll join us in two weeks for Mountainfilm on Tour to be inspired by a collection of documentary short films followed by a panel discussion. Thanks to The Education Foundation of Eagle County, adults and students will experience stories of equity and inclusion. High school students will watch the program during the day, then the Riverwalk and Capitol theaters will host the program in the evenings for community members. A panel discussion will follow each screening to continue this conversation with our community.
There is magic that happens when we talk about our differences: we see more of our similarities. Working together as a diverse community, we can achieve equity. Eagle County can prepare all students to be college, career, and culture ready.
Tia Luck is the Equity Coordinator for Eagle County Schools. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org