12465 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News, VA 23606  Phone: (757) 591-4500

 

 

Diversity and Student Academic Success

Newport News Public Schools provides a multi-faceted program designed to establish and maintain an organizational climate that maximizes the benefits of the diversity in the school division.  The structure of this initiative reflects philosophically the following assumptions regarding diversity awareness:

  • Personnel who acquire skills to interact effectively with diverse populations will create an organizational climate that fosters greater academic success for students.
  • Personnel who value diversity and utilize its strength will contribute meaningfully to the creation and maintenance of a safe and orderly school environment.
  • A systematic program of training for diversity awareness requires three to five years to accomplish significant organizational change.  An effective diversity awareness training program becomes an ongoing facet of staff development.
  • A training program that is designed internally, with the support and participation of the policy-making body and the senior administrative personnel, offers the greatest potential for success.

Diversity Education Goals

The goal of diversity training for Newport News Public Schools is to help personnel learn to appreciate and better understand diverse cultures and races so that they can work together better and realize the academic goals envisioned for our students. Personnel who participate in this training program will:

  • develop strategies for maintaining an educational environment that nurtures and motivates the academic success of the diverse student population
  • identify instructional strategies that address performance and participation disparity
  • develop strategies for communicating effectively with parents
  • assess the success of their work group team in capitalizing on its diversity
  • assess the success of school/division efforts in achieving pluralistic particiation in all facets of school life.

Connections Advocates

Diversity Issues and Student Success - A Plan for Educating Personnel

In March 1996, the Superintendent’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity completed a report that included recommendations for establishing/maintaining an organizational climate that operates to maximize the benefits of the diversity in the Newport News Public Schools. The committee’s report listed assumptions regarding diversity awareness and educational personnel that included the following:

  • Personnel who acquire skills to interact effectively with diverse populations will create an organizational climate that fosters greater academic success for students.
  • Personnel who value diversity and utilize its strength will contribute meaningfully to the creation and maintenance of a safe and orderly school environment.
  • A systematic program of training for diversity awareness requires three to five years to accomplish significant organizational change. An effective diversity awareness training program becomes an ongoing facet of staff development.
  • A training program that is designed internally, with the support and participation of the policy-making body and the senior administrative personnel, offers the greatest potential for success.

These assumptions and the recommendations included in the Committee’s report provide the impetus for diversity awareness education for school division personnel.

Diversity Knowledge Initiative

The Newport News Public School System has established a Connections Advocate Cadre. Members of the cadre, to be identified by principals/supervisors at each of the division work sites, lead the advocacy for establishing and maintaining an organizational climate that capitalizes on the diversity of our workforce and student population.

A Connections Advocate:

  • participates in diversity training throughout the year (calendar issued annually)
    • attends workshops, conferences, etc. and reports to his or her colleagues
    • disseminates topical information
  • participates in the activity of the school improvement team or
  • facilitates the activity of a work site personnel committee
    • offers support and resources for colleagues to insure the quality of education of all students
    • serves as connections coaches for students and/or colleagues
  • coordinates the presentation of related activities for colleagues (minimum of six annually)
  • prepares a summary report of the activities held in their school/work site
  • prepares recommendations for future activities related to diversity issues

Selection Guidelines

Administrators who identify Connections Advocates should select a staff member with whom they can plan effectively to address diversity issues in the classrooms and work sites of the school division. The following additional factors should be considered:

Connections Advocates (school sites):

  • The educator selected should be one whose classroom environment, teaching style, and management techniques reflect a commitment to and respect for all learners. The professional manner of the Connections Advocate should reflect the commitment to multi-cultural education of the Newport News Public Schools.
  • The Connections Advocate should be a professional who has demonstrated the ability to establish a classroom that is open and accepting of cultural and economic diversity---a classroom free of barriers to academic success.
  • The staff member identified to become a Connections Advocate should be one who has been observed modeling behavior routinely that contributes to a supportive school climate: in the staff lounge, in the cafeteria, as well as in the classroom. He/She offers the support that will benefit all children in any setting.

Connections Advocates (all):

  • The Connections Advocate should be a staff member that the administrator believes can assist in mediating sensitive issues/situations regarding staff/staff, student/staff, student/student relations in order to bring about a wholesome school climate.
  • Connections Advocates are expected:
    • to encourage all of their colleagues to be learners, listeners, and "doers" by effectively modeling these behaviors without making value judgments.
    • to have patience, leadership qualities, and a positive attitude.
    • to offer suggestions for implementing and improving programs to benefit all students

  • The Connections Advocate should possess good communication skills and be able to interact well with colleagues.

Activities of Connections Advocates

Connections Advocates participate in a series of sessions that prepare them to assist in the design and implementation of diversity issues education for their work sites. Activities will include:

  • Workshop/Lecture Series
  • Simulation Exercises
  • Data Review
  • Incident Response
  • Book Discussions
  • Conferences & Seminars

Completion of the training program will earn recertification points for certificated personnel. All Connections Advocates will be awarded certificates documenting the specialized training that this program provides.

Each advocate will receive a resource manual and other materials for use in their role. Additional materials will be provided periodically so that advocates will have the most current information for their use.

There is no supplementary compensation associated with this activity.