Discussing Diversity and Achievement

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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Heidenreich and Memorial Junior High School Principal Anthony Mignella recently presented at a symposium at Teachers College, Columbia University. The event commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and focused on addressing challenges to sustaining racially diverse schools and communities.

Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of sociology and education at Teachers College, invited Dr. Heidenreich and Mr. Mignella to present a workshop at the symposium, particularly because the district is one of a handful of school districts she has studied that does not have an achievement gap when it comes to graduation rates.

Dr. Heidenreich and Mr. Mignella presented a breakout session titled “Diversity in Suburban Schools: Achieving Academic Excellence.” The presentation focused on the growth in diversity among the district’s student population over the years; showcased the increase in the number of high school graduates earning Regents diplomas; and highlighted challenges faced by the district to ensure that students have opportunities to grow academically, socially, emotionally and psychologically.

Dr. Heidenreich and Mr. Mignella also noted a number of structured instructional approaches taken by the district to ensure student improvement. These included the elimination of tracking, open enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, an increase in the number of periods dedicated to math and English for middle school students, and providing teachers with a common language and framework for instructional planning, among other measures.

The presentation was well-received, and the district thanks Teachers College for the opportunity to participate in the symposium.