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Maclin Takes DEIA Message to TEDx, CIO Views

Dr. Maclin presenting at a TedX ConferenceApril 12, 2023 - As an organization, SSD has made a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). Dr. Michael Maclin, SSD’s executive director of DEIA, began leading our District through this work in 2020 and was honored at the April 11 Board of Education meeting for his mentorship, dedication, and several recent regional and national recognitions.

Maclin was an invited speaker at the TedXJesterCirED event, held March 7, at the University of Texas in Austin. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. In his speech, he described how some school cultures can struggle to demonstrate the flexibility needed to accommodate diverse qualities in students. They expect students and staff to conform in ways that blur or erase their individual qualities in an effort to create a more homogeneous culture. 

But erasing their individual qualities - such as race, ethnicity, gender, sex, religion, and disability - means students and staff can lose their representation in schools, he says. Schools need to know they can preserve a diverse representation of students without compromising the integrity of their school communities. Like granite, they can be strong as a result of their components, not despite their components. This ideal state within a school or any other organization is what he calls “granitificationTM.”

“Granite is a material that is composed of four different kinds of rock, and those rocks don’t change their individual qualities to become granite,” he says. “In school cultures, sometimes we ask individuals to shed some of their individual qualities to become a better fit for their class or school environment. And that’s really to the detriment of those students or staff members whose representation becomes compromised. The strength of granite comes from the strength of its individual components - it’s a synergistic relationship.”

Dr. April Willis, organizer of the TEDxJesterCirED conference, describes Maclin’s presentation in glowing terms.  

Dr. Maclin on the cover CIO Views magazine“Dr. Maclin is an engaging speaker who explores the intersection of societal norms and individual identity,” she says. “His exploration of how systems impact people, specifically students in a K-12 environment, can empower educators to transform their classroom culture. I appreciated his energy, his data-driven points, and his solutions-oriented approach.”

Maclin’s TEDxJesterCirED presentation is available on YouTube and the TED Talk library.

In addition to the TEDx conference, Maclin was recently selected by CIO Views magazine for the first slot in its ranking of the nation’s top 10 D&I leaders. This honor is a result of his reputation as a DEIA thought leader and initiatives that he has launched or completed at SSD and other organizations (with the help and support of his team, he adds). He appeared on the cover and was the featured article of their April issue.

Dr. Maclin and his team were selected to receive North County Incorporated’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award for 2023. And on May 7-9, Maclin and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elizabeth Keenan will be presenters at the annual RTM Business Group K-12 Innovation Forum in Dallas. The forum is an opportunity for educators in leadership positions to network and learn from their counterparts in innovative school districts from across the country.

“We’re trying to help students and staff retain their identities by providing them with a voice and choice,” he says. “We’re striving to eliminate systemic barriers and institutional biases to equity. All this comes from an honest effort to understand a person’s lived experiences. Even though I’ve been working in education for more than 20 years, this is by far the hardest work I’ve ever done.”