Minority Student Achievement

Cynthia DeVese
Coordinator, Minority Student Achievement

This office is committed to student improvement efforts that support access and equity by the development of initiatives and projects that accelerate student learning and ensures that minority students graduate ready to succeed in college and careers.  The office works within the District’s strategic goal for every student to achieve academic success.

Our programs relate to accelerating student achievement and equity in the WCS District; are listed below:

Equal Opportunity Schools - Lead Higher initiative:  Our partnership with EOS is designed to increase the number of low-income and underrepresented students who enroll in AP/IB classes.  The work we began in 2016 with our three high schools demonstrates that proactive, high quality and focused advocacy by trusted adults on behalf of students increases AP/IB access, while ensuring that students succeed once they enroll.  

Student Connections: Is an initiative to connect students to diverse literature, mentors and tutors, as well as create opportunities to engage and address issues surrounding students’ social and emotional needs.  Students will focus on creating pathways that connect them to careers and college opportunities, as well as increase their academic achievement.

  • MODEL Mentoring: Mentors Opening Doors Enriching Lives is a middle school girls mentoring initiative that provides mentoring relationships with adult women in the Westerville community.  The program aims to increase students’ self worth, improve perspective toward education, provide support and encouragement and ultimately increase school performance.
  • Spirit Book Club: addresses the need to offer more culturally diverse learning materials in our schools. The book club is in all four middle schools.  It provides “windows and mirrors” for all students through exposure to diverse books, specifically, Coretta Scott King award winning authors.  In 2017 Heritage Middle School was awarded  ? to purchase 1000 books based on the work of the Spirit Book Club in the building.

Community Connectors Mentoring:  Through a grant from the Ohio Department of Education called Community Connector, The FCA Character Development Program in collaboration with Westerville City Schools received the grant to establish a mentoring program that aims to build character and positive life skills in 8th grade boys and girls at Walnut Springs Middle School.  The mentoring program is designed to assist students in developing skills that will build resilience, improve attendance, increase grades, and school success.  Adult mentors will help students make the connection of what is possible and  attainable which will lead to success in the 21st Century.  Students meet twice a week with an adult mentor and twice a week with a peer mentor from Otterbein University.  

Equity Framework:  The Equity Framework is framed around four initiatives, around which Westerville City Schools’ equity work is structured.  These initiatives are:

  • Cultural Mindset - We will develop individual and organizational knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices to create culturally responsive learning environments that expect and support high academic achievement for learners from all racial groups.
  • Student-Centered Teaching and Learning- We will identify, develop, and systematically implement teaching and learning strategies that make a significant difference in the education of children to ensure all learners have access to rigorous content at or above grade level as demonstrated by research and best practices.
  • Family and Community Engagement:  We will engage families and communities to create sustainable relationships in supporting academic achievement for all learners.
  • Equity Policies and Practices: We will act to eliminate gaps and barriers between our mission and the policies, practices, and structures in our school system that may perpetuate systemic inequalities based on race and class.

Equity Institute: The Equity Institute provides a series of culturally relevant workshops over the course of six months in which all equity team members engage to develop their capacity to foster positive change on behalf of the achievement of underrepresented students.

The Institute offers opportunities to share, reflect, and plan to inform the equity work.  Teams strengthen their knowledge, attitudes, skills and practices to create culturally responsive learning environments while developing strategies toward equity goals.  Teams receive expert guidance and facilitation to work together to address the gaps and challenges they face in their education equity efforts.  Dr. Antoinette Miranda, OSU Professor of School Psychology in the Department of Educational Studies leads the WCS Equity Institute.

Equity Teams: To examine structures and processes that may impede progress toward diversity, equity, and success of ALL students we created two equity teams:

District Equity Team and Building Equity Teams.  The equity teams serve to:

  • Create awareness and understanding among all staff of the implicit biases that serve as barriers to academic achievements
  • To assist teachers and administrators in identifying teaching and learning strategies and approaches that help raise student achievement for ALL students
  • To look at what we do as a school community through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • To ensure that our district policies and practices support and promote the following for ALL students…
    • High expectations
    • Rigorous learning opportunities
    • Differentiated instruction to meet the various learning styles and cultural styles
    • Positive learning and school experiences