• March: Equity in Education Month

    Posted by Chantal Chandler on 3/30/2023

    To provide high-quality education, a school system must have a high-quality workforce, which doesn’t happen accidentally. It requires a carefully crafted recruitment and hiring process.

    This year, SSD has analyzed and reviewed the Office of Employee Success and Engagement (OESE) actions with the additional collaboration of the Offices of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and Communications. Together, these teams have developed and implemented hiring and retention best practices supporting equity and ensuring Special School District has the highest-quality workforce. 

    One of these best practices is creating or revising detailed job descriptions to include language that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility while describing job duties and responsibilities, qualifications, work experience, and educational requirements. As I mentioned in January, Communications began auditing OESE messaging and outreach, which inspired this closer review of job descriptions. 

    Each description is screened to remove gender-specific language, simplify or remove jargon, and embed our DEIA values in the position overview and responsibilities. SSD’s equal opportunity employer statement has also been updated to better reflect our values. We have also established a Job Description Review Committee to assist with this work and provide valuable insights from departments across the District. Our descriptions must accurately outline the work of SSD, and they also need to reflect the mission and vision of our organization, particularly if we hope to attract a new generation of workers. 

    Incorporating the DEIA lens throughout our hiring process is aided by using an applicant tracking system to identify applicants that meet the minimum job requirements. The system not only streamlines the hiring process, especially when many applicants are received, but it also ensures that only fully qualified applicants are considered for further screening. 

    A racially and ethnically gender-diverse interview panel of three to five staff members trained in implicit bias, inclusion in decision-making, and ADA accommodation, are selected for each job opening. All jobs have a set of approved interview questions, and no questions are added or changed to ensure that all candidates are asked for the same information. Rubrics are also used to ensure that the interview panel has clear parameters for ranking.

    Finally, adding an HR data analyst to the OESE team will allow us to closely monitor how we are doing in attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce. Using recommended measures, standardized check-in interviews, and establishing an open dialogue between our new hires and their success managers will help our organization continually improve and grow.

    What is most important to remember as we celebrate Equity in Education Month is that the efforts SSD puts toward hiring with a DEIA lens benefits our students. We know that students feel more confident and safe when they are taught by and cared for by a diverse group of people at school. Countless studies have shown that students perform better, feel better, and develop more empathy when they learn in diverse environments. It helps us realize our mission of empowering all students to excel to their greatest potential. 


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  • SSD Celebrates CTE Month®

    Posted by Special School District on 2/1/2023

    Special School District is the proud provider of career and technical education (CTE) in St. Louis County through the relevant, high-quality programs offered at North Tech and South Tech. During February, we join nationwide organizations in celebrating National Career and Technical Education Month®, a campaign aimed at increasing public awareness among educators, parents, students, policymakers, and employers about the value and promise of CTE.

    CTE programs spanning all career pathways, including medical, information technology, advanced manufacturing, transportation, public safety, and human services, are provided tuition-free at North Tech and South Tech to high school students in St. Louis County. Our programs include multiple certification and college credit opportunities while providing students with real-world experiences, real-world skills, and the exploration they need to determine their path after high school.

    Our generous business and industry partners offer field experiences, internships, mentoring, and employment to students, allowing them to explore college majors and careers before they graduate. Advance CTE reports that students in CTE programs and their parents are three times as likely to report they are “very satisfied” with their student’s opportunity to learn real-world skills compared to parents and students not enrolled in CTE courses.

    North Tech and South Tech continue to benefit from significant engagement and investment from regional employers who are building their talent pipelines among our students. This fall, SSD was proud to announce our most recent partnership with WorldWide Technology, which chose to establish its first high school-level apprenticeship program with our information technology programs. Our team of CTE supporters includes hundreds of companies, and many will join us at our St. Louis County Apprenticeship and Career Pathways Showcase events beginning Feb. 26, 2023.

    SSD will feature program videos and CTE facts that emphasize the value of career and technical education throughout the month on our Facebook and Instagram pages (@northtechstl and @southtechstl). Help us spread the word about the importance of CTE by liking and sharing our posts.  

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