As we move towards the end of 2021, Environmental Charter Schools looks back on this last calendar year and our work together with you, our community and supporters.
Each school year, conversations with leadership, staff and stakeholders throughout ECS lead us to identify organization-wide priorities, or “Wildly Important Goals.” As described in 4 Disciplines of Execution, Wildly Important Goals are one to two highly important goals that must be achieved in order for the organization to meet its mission.
ECS Strategic Priorities for the 2021-2022 School Year
- Safe return to school for all students, teachers and staff
- Strengthen Advisory at ECS to reinforce the tenet “every child is a blessing.”
- Implement high-leverage instructional best practices for the new normal
1. Safe return to school for all students, teachers and staff
With our full return to campus this school year, safety is of the utmost importance.
At ECS, our safety measures are working. We continue to engage in wide-scale testing and have had very few positive COVID cases – two school-based transmissions since March 2020. With a strong operations team, and the addition of our Director of Health and Safety and site-based Safety Coordinators, our school community members continue to practice safety measures, (including masking, washing/sanitizing, maintaining ventilation and vaccination.
We are extremely happy to report that this calendar year we have had zero on-site transmissions and low positivity rates. Currently, 93% of our staff across all four schools and our administrative team are vaccinated. We’ve also offered multiple vaccine clinics at our schools sites for our students, families and community members.
2. Strengthen Advisory at ECS to reinforce the tenet “every child is a blessing.”
In the 2020-2021 school year, a continuing priority was to Confront Anti-Blackness and Racism. In our work with Dr. Kenjus Watson and Dr. Tiffani Marie, we learned about the Four Tenets for Black Wellness.
4 Tenets of Black Wellness
- Every child is a blessing*
- We all have a sacred purpose
- All of us have wisdom and medicine that come from our cultures, histories, and our peoples
- We must commit to the journey of ongoing healing, cleansing and rejuvenation
These four tenets provided our team with principles that can help us improve the experience of Black students, families and staff and the experience of all students and staff in our schools. As part of our focused energy on one tenet – Every child is a blessing – we began to reimagine our advisory program for grades 6-12 to better reflect this.
What do we mean by “strengthen advisory at ECS to reinforce the tenet ‘every child is a blessing.’”
Perceiving every child as a “blessing” is seeing them as someone positive, who contributes to the community, and possesses gifts that can be shared and appreciated. Each student comes with a unique history, perspective and experience. By strengthening our advisory program, we create spaces where each child can show up in their fullness; we intentionally craft environments where every student has positive relationships with adults and feels known, valued and loved. Our love for our students is not conditional on their behavior or academic success.
This tenet expects that we set an expectation for how we treat students, colleagues and families, and how we expect students to treat each other. Living this tenet enables us to confront anti-Blackness and racism in our relationships, classrooms and school communities.
Restorative Practices provides a framework for the deeply reflective, recursive work we must engage in. Just as humans need food and shelter, they need human relationships and a sense of belonging. Restorative Practices strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities.
*The use of the word “blessing” in a public school setting may raise questions. This word is intentionally used because of its historical meaning.
- It honors the history and practices of Black and African American cultures
- It respects the beliefs and traditions of many of our families
- It acknowledges that the work we do is mission driven– whether the driving force is secular social justice or religious conviction.
3. Implement high-leverage instructional best practices for the new normal
We learned a great deal over the past two years about teaching, learning, and leading that we want to retain as we returned to in-person instruction this year. Out of necessity, we learned to support students more effectively and efficiently using both human and technological resources. In pursuit of equity for all ECS students, we established and bolstered tiered interventions to better meet their needs during this extended crisis. The pandemic helped us realize that there are more reliable and efficient ways to connect with parents and families and we leveraged new strategies to reach our community.
As we returned to campus and to more normal operations, we planned with intention for our new normal of 2021-2022. Our academic priority was to implement an inclusive multi-tiered system of support with an emphasis on specific high-leverage Tier 1 instructional practices aimed at supporting all students, but with particular focus on English Language Learners (ELs), Students with Exceptionalities (SWEs) and African-American students.
The principles of Universal Design for Learning tell us that when we focus on ensuring programmatic accessibility for our neediest students, we ultimately improve access and outcomes for all students. By prioritizing the articulation and implementation of an inclusive multi-tiered system of support, we can address the urgent needs of student groups who have historically experienced disproportionate outcomes. (i.e., ELs, SWDs, and African-American/Black students).