Diversity training brings incredible results to Parkway School District

After sending administrators and teachers through EEC’s diversity training, the Parkway School District in west St. Louis County saw a remarkable difference. Charlotte Ijei, director of pupil personnel and diversity for Parkway, calls that difference incredible.

“The EEC is the reason why we are closing the achievement gap in our district,” said Ijei, who has attended all 19 Parkway cohort groups that have attended the program so far. “EEC came in and hit the nail right on the head.”

She is referring to the often uncomfortable (or taboo?) subjects of racism and oppression. “EEC creates a safe environment for teachers and administrators to be able to have these hard conversations,” Ijei said. “Going through the training and then putting what you learn into practice is an incredible journey. It gives us educators a common language. It is truly empowering and impactful for everyone.”

Ijei said if educators do not talk about these tough topics, they can “eat away at us like a cancer.”

Raising the bar

Because educators who have gone through the training better understand their students and themselves, they raise their expectations, improving student engagement.

“Teachers begin to hold all kids to the same amount of accountability. Now they better understand the behavior of students of color,” Ijei said. “Educators look at their students differently now and work harder to meet their needs.

Ijei said EEC taught her and her fellow educators to be allies together to help students, as well as their own families and the world.

“They gave us the tools and ability to improve ourselves and our schools,” she said. “The training has done tremendous good for Parkway.”

What initiatives came out of diversity training?

  1. The district has a social justice cadre in every building.
  2. Discussions about race are welcomed now.
  3. Race, culture and ethnicity are part of the curriculum.
  4. Diversity & Action group meets every month on topics like achievement gap and race.
  5. Book studies on diverse authors keep teachers up-to-date
  6. Workshops on race