Updates from the IA Joint Steering Committee Meeting on June 23rd, 2021

Reporting by Leah Raymond (‘22)

https://vimeo.com/567086119

In Attendance

Bloomfield Hills Schools, Huron Valley Schools, Rochester Community Schools, Troy School District

Principal’s Report: Lynne Gibson

Graduation

The IA held three graduations this year — each campus had its individual commencement ceremony.  There were 326 Full Diploma candidates, which is a typical number despite the circumstances brought about by Covid-19.

Upcoming dates to be aware of

-New Student Orientation and photos: Thursday, August 12th

-First day of school: Tuesday, August 17th

-IB Evaluation Visit: Wednesday, November 10th – Friday, November 12th

School Improvement Committee

There will be a reinstitution of the School improvement Committee on both a tri-campus and individual campus levels.  Of the school goals of instruction, curriculum, assessment, and culture, the Committee will focus on one main school goal: culture.  This was the top-chosen goal of all three campuses, as shown by teacher responses.  Additionally, the school will focus on a secondary goal, which will be chosen later from the remaining three school goals.

Teacher feedback about learning during a pandemic

According to teacher feedback, there are various pre-pandemic aspects of learning that the IA can do without, such as:

-The stress

-In-person conferences

-Grilling during the picnic (more stress on the grillers)

There are also some pandemic aspects of learning that teachers hope to continue, such as:

-An in-person and DP learning focus

-Asynchronous days (if allowed by the state of Michigan)

-Use of Canvas and access to electronic devices for all students

-The “House System”

-A video for open-house

Tri-Campus Disrupting Racism Student Committee: Sonya Park, Kayla Collins, Siya Chhabra, Eesha Gummaraju

The DRSA is a tri-campus group of about 20 students who meet monthly to discuss ways to make the IA a more accepting and anti-racist environment.  The Committee was inspired by the events in the spring of 2020.

The Committee has done work at all three campuses: at East, they collected opinions on racism from the student body; at Okma, they hosted dialogues to encourage conversations about race; and at West, they spoke to teachers about ways to dismantle racism in schools.

The Committee proposed curricula changes across various disciplines to help make the IA a more accepting environment for all people and to disrupt racism taught in classrooms.  They also encouraged more difficult conversations about race and social justice-focused product teams.  Their overall goal is to encourage these conversations in order to dismantle systemic injustice and disrupt racism at the IA.

The Anti-Racism Statement presented by the DRSA has been in the works for over a year, and followed the following process: initial brainstorming, a tri-campus student meeting, a tri-campus student meeting with staff, a DRSA Committee meeting, and finally finalizing the statement.  In the creation of this statement, the DRSA took into context IB statements on acceptance and inclusion.  The statement had student input in a seminar format as well.

The Anti-Racism Statement is as follows:

“The International Academy condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, both covert and overt, institutionalized and systemic — it stands firmly against all types of social injustices, including but not limited to those on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, religious or spiritual beliefs, physical ability, socioeconomic status, and ideology.  Additionally, the International Academy community institutes a Zero Indifference approach with respect to discrimination on any basis.

We strive to create an inclusive environment where all individuals receive the respect, support, safety, and acceptance to nurture growth and aid in the development of globally-minded people.  The International Academy is committed to valuing the diversity in our community and promoting a growth-mindset, empowerment, and equity for all individuals.  Moreover, we are devoted to challenging the historical roots that contribute to the existing framework of oppression and injustice in our society and dismantling racism in our community.  It is our ultimate goal to cultivate an inclusive learning community whose members — staff, families, and students alike — hold the tools to dismantle systemic injustices themselves, sharing these skills and tools with others as lifelong learners.”

For the IA community, this statement serves as a reminder to hold all people accountable for their words and actions, to dismantle racist structures within the school, and to raise under-represented voices.  The statement is not a finish line, but rather just the beginning.  For the future, the DRSA hopes to increase the importance of anti-racist actions over just words, to encourage the IA to look at changes and curricula through an equity lens, and to diminish racism in the classroom and curriculum.

The motion to make the Anti-Racism Statement presented by the DRSA the official IA Anti-Racism Statement passed unanimously.

IA Okma Budget: Pat Watson

The motion to extend the deadline for approval of the Okma Campus budget from consortium boards from June 30th to no later than August 31st passed.

School Development: Lynne Gibson

IA Okma’s assistant principal, Dr. Chris Smith, will be taking on the position of principal at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy in the fall of 2021.  The IA community would like to thank him for everything that he has done in his nine years at the IA and wish him the best in all future endeavors.

Closing Announcements

The meeting was taped and is available on YouTube. Future meeting dates will be posted soon.

The meeting was brought to a close at 6:40 pm.

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