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Collaboration is Key to School Success

Written By Julianna Benson on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | 10:35 PM

Collaboration is Key to School Success
Collaboration is Key to School Success - The lack of diversity on the Abilene Independent School District’s board of trustees’ was frequently brought up by the community during the four-plus months the board took to fill its Place 7 vacancy.

With all six current board members being white in a district where 41.6 percent of its students are Hispanic, 40.2 percent are white and 12 percent are black, the need to address the ethnicity issue was pushed to the forefront.

Hardin-Simmons University associate professor and board appointee Kelvin Kelley said it’s disappointing that race played such a large role in the discussion leading up to Monday night’s unanimous vote to name him the board’s seventh member.

Kelley is the first African-American to serve on the board since 2000, only the third to serve in the district’s history and only fifth minority trustee ever.

“It’s disappointing and I acknowledge it for what is, but in reality I don’t have to play by those rules,” said Kelley, Hardin-Simmons’ student diversity programs coordinator. “If your primary goal is student achievement, then it doesn’t matter who the student is. I had Hispanics, Caucasians and African-American students in our (Campus Advocacy) Program.” (see HERE)

Board President Stan Lambert reiterated Tuesday that seeking diversity wasn’t the board’s “main focus” in the appointment.

“We were looking for the best qualified individual,” Lambert said. “(Kelley) had outstanding qualifications and experience and was very eager and willing to jump into a middle of what is very difficult and challenging times for school boards.”

However, trustee Robert Laird said he was looking for a diverse candidate to appoint.

“My desire in the appointment process was to find a candidate with diversity in mind,” Laird said. “He works at Hardin-Simmons, he’s an ACU (doctorate) graduate and the diversity concept is very strong here. I don’t think he has an agenda, he only wants to do what’s best for our kids and I think that’s great.”

Kelley said he indeed doesn’t come into the position — for which he plans to seek election in May 2014 — with an agenda.

“For most of us, we have been influenced by ethnicity and you can’t deny that reality,” Kelley said. “But what you have to do is understand you have to take responsibility for that. If you acknowledge it, then you’re willing to make a decision that’s different from what the constituency demands.

“To make a viable education system, we have to work together; there must be collaboration.”

Kelley said student success is at the heart of his educational philosophies. (see HERE)

“The reality is that the learning space should be conducive to student discoveries,” said Kelley, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Cisco. “What that means is the teacher and instructor, as well as the student, have a responsibility of what’s going on in that environment. We (might) put an onus on the teacher or the student, and the reality is it’s a relationship.”

Along with those philosophies, Kelley also is adamant that people shouldn’t refer to some student populations as “at-risk.”

“I don’t use ‘at-risk students,’ I use ‘underperforming students’,” Kelley said. “Underperforming doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you’re not doing it.”
Source : www.reporternews.com
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  1. Very informative blog. I will always check your update Julianna.

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