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Great Lakes Equity Center at IUPUI prepares for first leaders institute

INDIANAPOLIS — The Great Lakes Equity Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is preparing for two new professional development events, including a networking opportunity for educators across the center’s six-state region.

The Great Lakes Equity Center hosts the first annual Region V State Equity Leaders’ Summit on Feb. 19 and the first Equity Leaders Institute on Feb. 20 and 21.

Part of the Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI, the Great Lakes Equity Center is a federally funded regional Equity Assistance Center intended to provide technical assistance in the areas of civil rights, equity and access, and school reform. The center covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The center’s State Equity Leaders’ Summit is a professional learning opportunity for administrators from state departments of education. This event will bring state department of education personnel together with scholars in the fields of educational equity and with center staff to engage in a series of focused roundtable discussions related to trending topics in the field of education.

The Equity Leaders Institute is an intensive, two-day seminar that brings district and school leaders together from across the region to examine leadership practices that facilitate systemic change toward educational equity.

“The work of promoting equity in schools can be challenging and sometimes a lonely endeavor, if people have not built alliances and created networks of supports,” said Seena Skelton, director of the Great Lakes Equity Center. “This leadership institute will provide a forum for educators who champion educational equity in their own local settings, to network with equity-minded colleagues and engage in in-depth dialogue about strategies to bring about transformative systemic change toward equity.”

The Great Lakes Equity Center, which completed its first full year on campus in October, has four goals: to provide on-demand, context-driven technical assistance and professional learning in matters of equity to schools, districts and educational agencies; to identify new tools and practices; to develop and maintain a network to disseminate information related to the center’s work; and to evaluate the center’s work to ensure its effectiveness.

“We are there to help education agencies to leverage their own assets and resources and generate their own innovations to solve the problems,” Skelton said. “So we really hope our role is to help mediate systems to address their problems.” She added that developing networks and new tools allows that type of work to flourish.

Initial funding for the Great Lakes Center is part of a three-year grant assigned to principal investigator Kathleen King Thorius, assistant professor of special education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI, and co-investigators Brendan Maxcy, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, and Thu Suong Thi Nguyen, assistant professor in educational leadership and policy studies.

The center complements an overall focus on urban education at the School of Education at IUPUI. Under the direction and guidance of the principal investigators, the center also engages in scholarly research to explore and describe the contexts of the school systems it serves.