April Co-Chair Update and Opportunities to Engage

Posted by Emily Blistein on 4/28/2022 4:20:00 PM

Dear ACSD Community, 

The focus of the Advisory Committee's work is to gather and understand the views within our district about areas ACSD should prioritize in its upcoming strategic plan. Below, please find updates from our recent meeting and opportunities to engage. You can find all of our updates here

April 4th Meeting:

  • We discussed two areas of the equity survey: staff perceptions and community outreach and engagement. Each topic had a small group which reviewed the Hanover survey results in more detail and prepared questions for the entire committee to discuss. 
  • The staff perceptions discussion highlighted the need to build trust between staff to do the equity work needed in the district. This includes taking time to build relationships between staff and district leaders to form collective ownership so we can truly do this work together; to look for ways to involve students in rethinking the learning process; and to seek direct input from all staff and use this feedback to further develop trust and consistent engagement in equity work by staff. The group noted the importance of regular and clear communication in this work between leaders and staff (and also students and larger school community).
  • We discussed several one-on-one and small group meetings that have occurred with staff, students, and families since our last meeting. We focused on a meeting with several ACSD families from the migrant farm worker community. Key takeaways included that families appreciated direct, in-person communication they receive in the first year, but after that it is hard to navigate the dense communication sent only by paper, or email. Creating and maintaining relationships between families and schools, specifically parents and teachers, is the most important thing. Migrant and multilingual families experience uncomfortable interactions with some negative interactions based on racism. We need to focus on systems and relationships so that all families feel safe and included. 
  • The community engagement and outreach discussion highlighted the lack of two-way communication between families and schools. We must decrease the reliance on heavy written communications, understand barriers, and make our communication more concise and focused and accessible. Relationships between families and schools drops as students move up grade levels. Need to increase engagement beyond use of standard parent teacher conferences and events. Also, let’s work to better understand a problem before jumping too quickly to fix it.

Opportunities to engage:

Our work will conclude with recommendations to the school board as they begin our next strategic plan. We welcome all staff, caregivers, and students community members to share their thoughts about how ACSD is doing creating a welcoming and inclusive environment: What is working well? What could we improve? What should we prioritize? The equity survey was one way the district is gathering data. We will soon have an analysis and interactive dashboard for you to review the results of the survey. You can also:

  • Share your perspective and experiences in this community feedback form. Responses will be anonymously shared with the advisory committee. 
  • We are planning 2 or 3 in-person events to listen to parents and community members about their perspectives and experiences with how ACSD can create an inclusive environment for all students and families. We will host these events at our elementary schools in May, please look for those dates in email and on our webpage within the next week.
  • If  you would like to share your feedback in a discussion, contact Emily (eblistein@acsdvt.org 802-382-1183) and we will connect you with a member of our advisory committee.
  • You can find comprehensive notes from each of our meetings here

Upcoming meetings and topics: All meetings will take place at 208 Charles Ave in Middlebury.

  • May 2th, 6:30-8pm - academic environment.
  • May 16th, 6:30-8pm - social environment. 
  • June 6 (final meeting to set recommendations). The committee will draft a report by mid June for the board.
  • August 27th, committee members are invited to meet with the ACSD school board to offer recommendations with discussion.


Thank you and take care,

Esther (Thomas) Charlestin, Middlebury Selectboard Member & Amanda Gomes, MUHS '23
ACSD Advisory Committee Co-Chairs