Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Published: 10/26/2022 12:09 PM


​​Our Vision 

Each student and educator in Kentucky feels a sense of belonging.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Team of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB), which is a part of the Office of Teaching and Learning, is committed to fostering an inclusive learning environment in which all Kentucky public school students receive equitable access and opportunities.​ 

​In order to support Kentucky’s vision for education, United We Learn, one of the fundamental precursors to a vibrant learning environment is creating a sense of belonging for all students and educators. A sense of belonging in schools describes the degree to which learners believe, experience and feel that they are accepted and respected as a valued contributor in their learning and social environment. By valuing the strengths in our diverse experiences, creating equitable access and learning opportunities, and including the voice of each learner, a strong sense of belonging will be cultivated, and in turn, each student will be empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future. 

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​Our Mission​

 Create and deepen partnerships to remove long-standing barriers to equity by providing supports in developing an equity lens, elevating student, family and educator voice, and promoting equitable, inclusive and healing learning communities.​

In order to achieve our vision, our mission outlines how we will help our educators and students across the state feel a sense of belonging. In addition to supporting United We Learn, the Team of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging leans heavily on the Kentucky Board of Education's resolution affirming its commitment to racial equity in Kentucky public schools through a resolution adopted on July 10, 2020. The Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education believe all students should have ​the necessary supports to reach their full potential as students and human beings. Our goal is to close the opportunity gap for all students and to prepare them for life and future success.

There are three primary strategies we utilize to carry out the mission of DEIB and KDE:

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1) Resources and Trainings​The division provides resources and tools to help schools and districts provide equitable opportunity and access to all students through the Equity Toolkit and other initiatives.​​ Please visit Kentucky's Equity Toolkit webpage​ for more information about each of the puzzle pieces in the Equity Tool.

2) Communiti​es of Practice​: In order to deliver support equitably, our KDE DEIB team works closely with our regional cooperatives. Each of our regional cooperatives have DEIB leaders to provide assistance, training and workshops in their respective areas.

3) Elevating Educator, Family, and Student Voice Data​: “If it’s about us, without us, it’s not for us.” Listening to our educators, students and famliies about how we can value diversity, promote equity and inclusion, and foster a sense of belonging is at the core of our mission.


Kentucky's Equity Toolkit

Definitions

Diversity: Individual traits and differences which directly impact the engagement, inclusivity and experiences of students such as: race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, country of origin, differing abilities, personality and learning styles, as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations. 

Equity: The promotion of access, opportunity and advancement of all individuals, including those in underserved communities, in order to identify and eliminate conditions that prevent the ability of all students to reach their full potential. ​

The term ‘underserved communities’ refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social and civic life (Federal Executive Order 13985, 2020​).​

Inclusion: The intentional act of creating an environment that fosters mutually respectful relationships in which each student, regardless of intellectual, social, cultural and geographic background, is welcomed, supported and valued as fully participating members of society.

Belonging: The degree to which learners believe, experience, and feel that they are accepted by adults and peers, as well as respected as a valued contributor in their learning and social environment.


A group of students listening



​Meet the KDE DEIB Team

Picture of Dr. Thomas Woods-Tucker  
Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer  
Office of Teaching and Learning​​
Picture of Dr. Damien Sweeney

Director of Diversity, Equity and Incl​usion
Office of Teaching and Learning

Damien.Sweeney@education.ky.gov

Picture of Heather Bushelman

Heather Bushelman, M.Ed.​
Comprehensive School Counselor Program Coordinator

Picture of Florence Chang

Florence Chang, Ph.D.
Strategic Analyst of Learning

Picture of Nicole Fields

Nicole Fields, Ed.D.
Community Engagement Coordinator

Picture of Malaika Williams

Malaika T. Williams, M.Ed.
DEIB Coordinator
Office of Special Education and Early Learning

Please email Damien Sweeney if you have any questions or need support.​​​

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