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Equity Diversity Newsroom

Employee Institute Equity Training:

Hoover City Schools employees received equity training on Institute Day. The training addressed Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, How to Have Conversations on Race, and How to Respond to Microaggressions.  

Equity Training Survey Data:

See the survey results.

Elam Leadership Institute Equity Training:

The District Equity Committee received updated training from experts from the Elam Leadership Institute.  

Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS):

The Elam Leadership Institute (ELI) oversees the district PBIS school-level processes. ELI will focus on equitable practices and positive behavioral support.

Dr. Terry Lamar (HCS) on stage at Hoover HS

HOOVER - Hoover City Schools held a forum on Monday, Dec. 2, to inform the public about its equity and educational initiatives, and give stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback.

HCS Superintendent Kathy Murphy noted that the forum held at Hoover High School was the third community meeting held as part of the effort to ensure the school system serves all students.

“Tonight is about all students and all colors and all ethnicities and all religions,” Murphy said, and added that all students have both gifts and challenges, and deserve to be free of all barriers that would hinder their educational opportunities.
 
Murphy pointed out the difference between equality and equity, explaining that equity means that each student receives a personalized form of support to ensure he or she succeeds.

Before Terry Lamar, director or equity and educational initiatives spoke about the core of the school system’s effort, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Autumm Jeter gave an academic update.

Hoover City Schools earned an overall score of 94 (considered an “A”) on the Alabama State Education Report card released in October, Jeter said, an improvement from the 90 the system received last year.

See more from the Shelby County Reporter

Marcella Roberts is not concerned that her son Joshua, who has Down syndrome, will show signs of regression during the COVID-19 public health crisis. In fact, he hasn’t missed a beat.

“My son has a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and an instructional support teacher, in addition to his regular teacher, who he connects with via Zoom meetings,” she said.

Roberts and her husband, Kevin, are both lawyers, and both are working from home like many professionals. They also spend time making sure their two sons, Joshua and his twin brother Kendal, turn in their assignments on time, as well as spend face-to-face time with Joshua to make sure he gets what he needs.

Joshua, a fifth grader at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School in Hoover, is just one of many students who have had to switch to distance learning as schools began closing in March. According to an article in the Hechinger Report, an online education website, advocates, educators, and parents say kids with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during this crisis and worry some may regress during the pandemic.

Roberts, who is the president of the board of directors for Down Syndrome Alabama, an organization that advocates and supports individuals with Down syndrome, said her son has the same support at home that he has at school.

“Teachers have provided parents with activities,” she said. “[Joshua] has a full deck for speech. For occupational therapy, I got a packet of information, so they check in with me on a regular basis to see how Joshua is doing. We work on occupational therapy and speech together, and then I send a copy of what he has done in those areas.

“I can schedule time for [the therapists] to connect with us via a Google Meet or something like that, so [Joshua] still has access. … Besides not being able to meet physically, he hasn’t missed a beat.”

See more from The Birmingham Times.

Dear HCS,

Our central office administrators and school leaders are continuing the important work of preparing our school reopening plan which will be presented to the board on Monday, July 13.  Please be aware that a number of surveys and informational items will be shared with you throughout this week regarding our reopening plan, and please know your input is valuable to us.

As we begin a new academic year, we realize there will be opportunities to celebrate and challenges to address.  We are grateful you are by our side through it all. 

Last year, our school district focused with great intensity on addressing equity, celebrating diversity and creating unity.  However, recent current events in our country and community associated with racial violence and civil unrest give evidence that there remains much work to be done.  What we have seen are injustices that leave human beings feeling targeted, attacked, hurt and disparaged.  We condemn those injustices in any form!   

We believe we are all here for such a time as this.  We are here because we have been entrusted at this moment to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.  We are here to understand and own the problems that occur on our watch, and we are here to find appropriate solutions.  

We must eliminate any barriers in our school district that have the effect of impeding a child’s academic and social-emotional development. We must level the playing field for the success of all.  We must hear our students’ voices.

Our school district will continue the work it started to address policies, practices and procedures specific to our desire for equity in education.  While no one person has the answer to the injustices and unrest that plague our nation, we, the Hoover City School Family, can and must find solutions to those issues that confront us.

Regardless of color, creed, and nationality, we must encourage our students; empower our students; and ensure that our students are ready to go forward in life in pursuit of their dreams.  As we approach a new school year, with all of the challenges before us, let's commit not only to confront those challenges, but let's also commit to care about each other without reservation; to treat each other with dignity and respect without limitation, and, just for good measure, let's commit to love one another.  We hope you would agree…after all is said and done, it's hard to love a person and mistreat them at the same time.   

Thank you for entrusting your child to us, and thank you for joining hands with us as we embrace the opportunity to serve your children.

Sincerely,

The Hoover City School Board and Superintendent Kathy Murphy

Screenshot of ABC 3340 video

HOOVER — In Reed Lochamy's senior English class at Hoover High School, the new book his students are reading has a strong Alabama connection.

They are reading "Just Mercy."

It is a book based on the story of Bryan Stevenson's story. He is the Harvard educated attorney who founded of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery.

"Much of our literature comes from one particularly perspective, one particular voice," Lochamy said. "There's such a breadth of the work that is outside that perspective."

The book is part of the new diverse literature initiative in Hoover City Schools. It's a pilot program this year. Dr. Autumm Jeter, the director curriculum and instruction for Hoover City Schools, says a committee recommend the materials and teachers now include those books in their lesson plans.

"I wanted to get diverse literature into the hands of children, not just our teachers," she said. "Our students need to understand and they need to understand other cultures."

For example, one of the books is called "Can I Touch Your Hair? It's about two students: one is black and one is white, and how they are the same -- yet unique and different just based on their hair.

"In the end, they all should go away with an understanding of how others feel and how other cultures may live," Jeter said. "Hoover is quite the diverse school system. We want a representation in our literature of our school system."

It's in the classroom where administrators want to make the most impact. Tara Bensinger, who teaches eighth grade reading, says her students are all into the book "The Boy and The Black Suit." She said the book has some heavy themes and often that helps generate good class discussions.

"We've had quite a few moments in class where kids have gotten emotional, just being able to identify with the character where reading about," Bensinger said.

Jeter said that is the whole point.

See more from ABC 3340.

"I really want our students to engage in in-depth conversations with our teachers," Jeter said. "And talk about personal beliefs and what's written in the stories and hopefully cross reference those opinions and ideas with other students of other backgrounds."

It's diverse literature that Jeter hopes helps teachers and students know the power of simply understanding others and being understood.

globe with students from around the world identified by country

HOOVER - When Zuha Fatima came to the United States from Pakistan two years ago, she entered the 2,900-student Hoover High School as a freshman.

She didn’t speak much in the beginning because her primary language is Urdu and, while she knew some English, she was afraid of saying things the wrong way.

Her teachers helped her overcome some of that fear, but the transition into American culture has been a journey, Fatima said. She hasn’t really made any American friends, she said.

Most of the students are good, but “they look at me differently. They treat me differently,” Fatima said.

She thinks it could be because of her Muslim faith and the fact she wears a hijab, and she doesn’t think people understand the good side of her religion. Most of Fatima’s friends are Pakistani or Mexican. There’s kind of a kinship among international students, she said.

Fatima is one of more than 1,380 students in the Hoover school system who speak a language other than English as their primary language, school system records show. With a little more than 14,000 students in Hoover’s 16 schools, that’s about one out of every 10 students.

It’s also a growing number as international travel and business increases, and the diversity in American communities multiplies.

In 2001, Hoover had 647 students whose primary language was not English, which was 7 percent of the district’s enrollment at that time.

There are now a total of 52 primary languages spoken in Hoover schools, including English. That’s up from 48 languages in 2001.

Almost half of those who have a foreign language as their primary tongue — 654 students — speak Spanish, which is probably no surprise. But there are also 210 students who speak Arabic as their main language, 83 who speak Vietnamese, 58 who speak Urdu and 50 who speak Hindi, records show.

Other leading languages include Telugu, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, Korean and Portuguese.

See more from the Hoover Sun

HOOVER - Hoover City Schools hosted a community-wide Equity and Educational Initiatives Forum on December 2, 2019.  The two-hour forum featured a dynamic panel of students, parents, teachers, and nationally-renowned diversity/equity experts.  The forum served as a way to highlight myriad equity initiatives underway throughout Hoover City Schools - including employee diversity training, school-based initiatives, and more.