- Special School District of St. Louis County
- Superintendent Insider
Synergy in SSDPosted by Special School District on 3/31/2022
“Synergy - the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.”
- Mark Twain
The success of SSD’s students is dependent on so many factors - our outstanding teachers, paraprofessionals, student support services, transportation, security, and operations staff all collaborate daily to ensure the best student outcomes. But, as talented as our team is, we cannot accomplish our goals alone. SSD is fortunate to be supported by approximately 700 organizations, businesses, universities, associations, and institutions throughout the St. Louis region who serve as our partners in achieving student success. Through these alliances, we achieve a synergistic system focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, allowing us to provide each student with the resources they need to reach their full potential.
By providing a myriad of benefits, our partners enhance the educational experience we provide, supply resources to our students and families, and offer work-based learning opportunities in our Tech high schools, adult education programs, and the CBVI and VSP programs.
Our partnership opportunities are vast, allowing those who choose to support us to choose from a menu of options in which to engage. Here are just a few examples:
- Providing guest speakers
- Hosting a Community Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) or Vocational Skills Program (VSP) site
- Hosting field experiences
- Offering internships
- Participating in career and technical education advisories
- Providing scholarships
- Serving as mentors
We recently collaborated with many of our partners on an exciting new project, the St. Louis County Apprenticeship and Career Pathways Showcase. By working together with representatives from the Affton, Pattonville, and Rockwood school districts, we hosted three community events to connect students to a variety of post-secondary pathways available throughout the region.
One partner deserving special mention is the Special Education Foundation (SEF), an organization dedicated to assisting SSD students since 1984. Their generous support impacts our stakeholders in many valuable ways, including funding innovative learning programs, supplying equipment, providing scholarships and camperships to students, and funding students’ critical needs. Thanks to SEF assistance, we have also been able to implement a new program to provide food support for students in need over our winter and spring breaks. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have such a generous partner devoted to the well-being and success of our students.
We are always open to exploring new partnership ideas that serve to facilitate our students’ success. If you know of an organization interested in exploring a partnership with SSD, please direct them to our SSD Partnership page or encourage them to fill out this form, and Sally Difani, our administrator of community partnerships, will be in touch.
Realizing the Promise of Equity in EducationPosted by Special School District on 3/4/2022
March brings with it a time of renewal - when the spring rain washes away the winter and the sun’s light brings new growth. We also celebrate Equity in Education month, an opportunity to deepen our commitment to realizing our core value of equity. SSD proudly states that our work is centered on each student’s unique needs. To fulfill that promise, we must commit ourselves to an examination of how equity is present, or even not present, in all aspects of our District.
Thanks to Director of Equity Dr. Michael Maclin and many dedicated professionals throughout our District, SSD is experiencing new equity growth of its own. Encouraged in part by the light we have chosen to focus on the actions outlined in our equity framework. As providers of special education and career and technical education, we truly appreciate what specialized education means. We know why IEPs matter and how varied and complex required skills are for our CTE programs. We expect a lot of details, a lot of data, and a lot of personalization in the methods we use to teach our students. But we must do more.
As we review practices, policies, procedures, access, and curricula through the equity lens, we are learning more about how inequities within our systems foster unrealized barriers for our staff and students. We know that when inequity in education persists, everyone is harmed, and so we must remain open to this challenging, critical work.
And we are learning together. To date, roughly 85% of our staff have experienced Dr. Maclin’s “Framing the Frameworks” training, and the remaining staff are on track to be trained in the remaining months of this school year. I have been participating in training all year as well, alongside our District’s leadership team and building administrators, and have learned so much. It has been a privilege to study alongside my colleagues and experience their commitment to seeking ways to ensure that equity permeates every aspect of our work, our culture, and our wider school communities.I strongly encourage you to read about our framework on the Equity page of the SSD website. The District is approaching the end of our second year and we are continuing to stay the course, ultimately realizing all of the 23 collective actions the framework has outlined for us. I have every confidence we will achieve this goal.