Fund-a-Need: Diverse Books and Culturally Responsive Teaching

Last year, in our virtual auction, the Synergy community raised over $45,000 for a lofty Fund-a-Need goal — increasing representation in our classroom libraries and engaging in professional development to help us create more inclusive and just classrooms for all of our students. The purpose of this fundraiser was to ensure that all students at Synergy have access to “windows” and “mirrors” throughout their school year. A “mirror” text or resource reflects and affirms a students’ own identity, while a “window” text or resource provides insight into a different perspective or lived experience.

This year, the Fund-a-Need committee has been hard at work to help Synergy teachers spend this money! The committee developed a system to distribute the funds among the staff by splitting the money for purchasing books and curriculum equally between all classrooms and subjects and reserving half of the funds for professional development.

Synergy teachers are hard at work auditing their classroom libraries and curriculum to determine any gaps in representation or existing stereotypes. The Fund-a-Need committee researched several curriculum auditing resources. It developed a “scorecard” for teachers that asks them to evaluate statements like, “The curriculum features visually diverse characters, and the characters of color do not all look alike,” and “Guidance is provided on giving students opportunities to contribute their prior knowledge and experience with a topic, not just respond to the text and information presented in class.”     

After teachers determine their needs, they will submit an order for additional texts and curriculum resources to address these gaps. The goal is for teachers to purchase “own voices” texts, or those written by an author of the identity group represented in the text, whenever possible.

Inspired by the Fund-a-Need, some Synergy teachers have already started researching and committing to professional development opportunities focused on social justice, equitable classrooms, and culturally responsive teaching. Synergy teachers will attend the (virtual) NAIS People of Color Conference held in late November. More teachers are excited to take advantage of professional development opportunities in the new year.

So, with many thanks to the committee for their hard work and our community for their incredible generosity, we are ready to use these funds to support our ongoing work of building a more just, equitable, and socially conscious school. 

Recent News