What is Upper Darby Rising?
The Upper Darby School District created its equity plan in 2018. Since then, there has been some progress but a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure excellence with equity across our district. To begin the next phase of our work we are announcing a new initiative called Upper Darby Rising. The goal of Upper Darby Rising is to create and implement an action plan that is built in collaboration with the community and recognizes community needs, strengths and suggestions.
The Components of the Initiative
The Upper Darby Rising initiative will:
- provide a series of community dialogues that invite all stakeholders to help identify key themes, issues and recommendations. They will also develop guidepost principles for taking concrete, inclusive actions and building trust with the District and among the various groups and stakeholders.
- create and implement a detailed action plan to fulfill the District’s commitment to Excellence with Equity
The initiave will create a Community Advisory Board who will help:
- synthesize the lessons learned from the community dialogues
- develop the Excellence with Equity detailed action plan
- monitor implementation and 'course adjustments' as needed
- assist with communicating status updates to the various stakeholder communities
The Community Advisory Board will work to bring the community closer together through proactive problem solving. The members will be a diverse group including parents, residents, educators, business owners, neighbors who do not have children attending our schools, and partners in education, public safety, and community culture. They will represent as much as possible the age, racial, ethnic, social, gender and sexuality, and economic diversity in the District and Township.
About the Community Dialogues
The District worked with the Catalyst Community Conversations (CCC) of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education to facilitate the community dialogues. CCC utilized a process of “intentional listening” and group conversation facilitation to understand what community members want & need, what our shared values & goals are, where we don't understand one another, and how we move forward together. Through the community dialogues CCC gathered thoughts and feelings about how the School District and the various communities can:
- work together to improve education
- support the students, families and communities that attend the district
- ensure that the many, diverse communities feel connected to the school district and feel heard, informed and that they have a “voice” that is listened to and respected
The dialogues also:
- identified a set of themes/issues that need to be addressed to bring more equity into both the district and township. These will include key tensions and trade-offs, areas of common ground for action, and overarching themes
- developed a set of principles to guide the district and township/community in working together to address those themes/issues
- gave participants an experience of participating in productive civic dialogues that will build trust and engagement and create social capital
Our Hopes for the Upper Darby Rising Initiative
The Upper Darby School District recognizes that it plays a vital role in the success of the entire community and serves as a valuable resource for families and community members. We understand that some of our citizens feel unheard, uninformed, and/or voiceless about the services and programs provided by the Upper Darby School District. Additionally, the District recognizes that addressing inequities and community divisions with the intent of working towards healing is vital to the success of our communities. To that end, the District aims to provide a vehicle for effective community input and solutions-focused collaboration. It is our hope that Upper Darby Rising will serve as a vehicle to collaboratively solve school-related issues, promote the students of the Upper Darby School District, and help to continue to make the Upper Darby area a great place to work, live, and learn through Equity and Excellence in education.