The Sun Prairie School Board heard an update from the Sun Prairie Area School District’s Director of Systemic Equity & Inclusion on Monday, Oct. 11 — which was also Indigenous Peoples Day.

Michael Morgan Jr. was named Director of Systemic Equity & Inclusion in the Sun Prairie Area School District effective July 1.

“There is endless potential as a district to far exceed expectations and overcome obstacles of inequitable practices and systems as we continuously aim to deliver on making sure that we are a high performing district of choice,” Morgan wrote in a PowerPoint presentation reviewed by board members prior to the Oct. 11 meeting.

Morgan’s report (see sunprairiestar.com for a copy of the PowerPoint) gave updates on each of three priority areas:

Priority 1 — Build relational trust among community members with a focus on historically marginalized populations.

For actions taken to date, Morgan listed Attended and participated in African American Parent Network(AAPN)/Senior Leader meetings; joined and attended the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) trainings and meetings as the district’s point person; joined and attended Dane County Equity Consortium (DCEC) meetings as the district’s point person, and invested significant time into visiting sites within the district and the greater community to build relationships.

Next steps include continuing to listen and invite the ideas and suggestions of AAPN; sharing new learning, including evidence-based practices, on equity work happening across the MSAN network; continue engaging in conversations about the nature of leading racial justice work and continuing to regularly visit sites, with principals and administration and serve as a thought partner for lifting equity work through the use of data, SAIL Plans, and scorecards.

Priority 2 — Increase the presence of culturally responsive teaching and learning through the Ready for Rigor Adult Learning Framework (R4R ALF), the SPASD Instructional Framework and the SPASD Curriculum Renewal and Design Process.

Actions taken to date: Collaborate with and coached the members of Leadership Collaborative on creating the initial draft of the Ready for Rigor Adult Learning Framework (R4R ALF); co-planned and co-facilitated the first two meetings of the SPASD Instructional Framework Design Team, and reviewed and began initial revisions to the Curriculum Renewal and Design Plan through the lens of equity and representation.

Next steps: Collaborate with the members of Leadership Collaborative to finalize the initial draft of the R4R ALF and implement its use in our district; co-plan and co-facilitate the remaining Instructional Framework Design Team meetings; and, finalize and implement revised Curriculum Renewal and Design Plan through the lens of equity and representation.

Priority 3 — Collaborate with the Human Resources Department to recruit and retain diverse staff.

Actions taken: Co-plan and facilitate monthly meetings with Affinity Group for staff of color and provide feedback on Human Resource processes and protocols using the lens of equity during meetings with Chris Sadler and Isabel Simonetti.

Next steps: Continue to offer Affinity Group meetings for staff of color; conduct Stay Conversations with a focus on staff of color to retain existing staff and attending and nominating additional staff to attend Recruitment Fairs to attract new staff of color to the SPASD.

Priority 4 — Facilitate and coach Race and Equity teams as they address identified problems of practice related to race and equity.

Actions taken: Co-created the Race and Equity Team (Eteam) Adult Learning Framework with Teaching, Learning & Equity Directors and Pacific Educational Group (PEG) staff; co-planned and attended the Eteam professional development with the PEG staff; and supported the development of Eteam’s site level problems of practice.

Next steps: Finalizing and implementing the use of the Eteam Adult Learning Framework; coaching site leaders and Eteams as they address their site problems of practice; and coaching site leaders and Eteam members in using the PEG tools with all staff.

Priority 5 — Focus on the celebration of Black Excellence through Black History Month, Black Student Unions, and beyond.

Actions taken: Designed an initial district-wide (grades 6-12) Black Student Union (BSU) Plan; met monthly with site-based BSU advisors (grades 6-12); collaborated to create initial plans for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) trip for 11th grade as a “capstone” experience with age appropriate annual events at all other levels; crafted an initial plan to provide additional opportunities, including conferences and guest speakers, for students of color and conducted initial planning to bring the “Harriet Tubman Experience” to the Performing Arts Center at Sun Prairie East High School, 888 Grove St.

Next steps: Continue meeting monthly with BSU advisors and create spaces for sharing of best practices and ideas to lift Black Excellence across the system; establish an HBCU planning committee to plan trip; create guidelines for attending out of school events and conferences; create a landing page that includes a non-exhaustive list of conferences and events that support Black Excellence for students interested in attending; and, continue to work with site leaders, BSU advisors, and the PAC to identify additional performances that can be brought to the district.

Board members were generally complimentary of Morgan’s first 90 days in his new position.

“I know it’s hard work and you’re the guy to do it,” remarked Board Governance Officer Tom Weber, who encouraged district residents and students to look at existing programs such as MSAN. “Those are some pretty cool programs.”

Morgan offered few answers to board member questions, such as how many Asian-American groups the district has; whether there is a parent group for the district’s LGBTQ+ community; and what Morgan would consider a success at the end of the school year.

“I would say surviving this year and ensuring that I am in a position to start to establish a support system for all of our different groups,” Morgan told the board. He also pointed out he only recently was able to staff his office.

“To me what you’ve accomplished in a little over three and a half months is just incredible,” remarked Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder. The board president recalled seeing Morgan at a Sun Prairie East High School football game, where Morgan was not relaxing, but working by talking with students. Schroeder praised Morgan for everything he has done to date.

“It’s clear to me,” Schroeder remarked, “you’re the right person for this job, Michael.”

At the end of the meeting, Sun Prairie School Board Vice President Bryn Horton reminded the board of one thing: “The land on which we now serve the kids and families of the Sun Prairie Area School District was once a land of the Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, Ho-Chunk, Miami, and Sioux tribes.”

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