Leadership and Partnerships
Dr. Jennifer Riesenmy
Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Ladue School District values the multitude of cultures, identities, and experiences inherent among members of its diverse community. The district is committed to honoring the innate worth of each individual and upholding the dignity of all stakeholders. Efforts to support students both academically and socio-emotionally are ongoing as the district strives for continuous growth in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.
Dr. Jennifer Riesenmy serves as Ladue School District’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator. She collaborates with district and building administrators across all departments to assist with DEI-related action steps. She works closely with our Social-Emotional Behavioral Team, English for Speakers of Other Languages Team, District Instructional Coaches, and the District Diversity Committee. In addition, she collaborates with our District Assessment Specialist to analyze data that helps Ladue School District measure the impact of DEI-related efforts.
Related Policies and Procedures
A number of policies and procedures, reviewed and approved by the Ladue Schools Board of Education, provide guidance in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- AC: Prohibition Against Discrimination Harassment and Retaliation
- EFB: Free and Reduced-Price Food Service
- GBCA: Staff Conflict of Interest
- IA: Instructional Goals/ Priority Objectives
- IF: Curriculum Development
- IGAB: Instructional Interventions
- IGAC: Teaching About Religion
- IGB: Accommodations of Students with Disabilities
- IGBA-2: Special Education
- IGBB: Programs for Gifted Students
- IGBCA: Programs for Homeless Students
- IGBCB: Programs for Migratory Students
- IGBD: At-Risk Students
- IGBD: Students In Foster Care
- IGBH: Programs for English Learners
- IGD: District-Sponsored Extracurricular Activities and Groups
- IND: Ceremonies and Observances
- JFCF: Bullying
- JFCF-AP(1): Bullying- (Bullying & Cyberbullying)
- JFCG: Hazing
- KKA: Civility
Expectations in Our Schools
Culturally Responsive Curriculum. We believe that students and staff should see themselves in every facet of our schools, from the lessons they are taught, to the images on the walls, to the people used as examples of leaders in various fields of study. The district is engaged in an ongoing process to intentionally ensure that people from a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures, and genders are well-represented in all of our schools’ programming and curriculum.
Conversation is Encouraged
While conversations regarding ethnic and cultural differences can be uncomfortable, they are important to all of our students and staff feeling welcome and safe in our schools. Teachers are trained in facilitating these conversations, as appropriate for the age of the students in their class (examples of how this philosophy plays out in an actual classroom setting).
A Districtwide Commitment to Bullying Prevention
The Olweus™ Bullying Prevention Program developed by Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide (CHADS) is a whole-school program involving the individual student, classroom, school and community. The program incorporates an innovative wrap-around approach that includes not only the students directly involved in bullying, but bystanders, as well.
Students and their families at every grade level are provided with a handbook at the beginning of each year that provides information about the expectations for student behavior.
Beyond Disciplinary Measures
Beyond the disciplinary measures outlined in the policies, handbooks, and other information linked above, the Ladue School District utilizes a number of other tactics for promoting appropriate student behavior and a school environment that feels safe and welcoming to all students.
Restorative Practices focus on creating a culture of connectivity where all students and staff feel they belong to a larger community where all can be successful and safe. Staff from all district schools have participated in Restorative Practices professional development.
Peer mediation is also being used increasingly across the district, allowing students to settle their own disputes with the trained guidance of an adult.
Increasing the Diversity of Ladue Schools Staff
Ideally, the diversity of our student population would be reflected in the diversity of the Ladue Schools staff at all levels – administrators, teachers, and support staff. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Recruiting at educational job fairs is helpful, but often doesn’t get to the best candidates early enough. As a result, the Ladue School District is investigating a number of “grow your own” initiatives that would assist us in identifying candidates early, getting them involved in our district well before graduation, and having an advantage in hiring them.
Staff Training and Support
Throughout every school year, extensive professional development time is dedicated to training and providing staff members at all levels with resources to enable them to participate in the district’s goal of ensuring that every student, every day feels safe and welcome in their classrooms and schools. This is not only important to their emotional well-being. Research has proven time and again that when students feel safe and supported, their ability to learn and succeed academically increases significantly.
Each school supports these efforts a little differently, depending upon their existing level of training, experience, the age of the children in their schools, and their individual school’s characteristics. In addition, the district also provides development opportunities for staff members at all levels.
The District Diversity Committee, as well as the individual school diversity committees, also provide extensive support for staff, students, and the district as a whole. Their contributions include identifying and providing access to resources, coordinating training, evaluating current programming, and assisting with shaping the district’s future DEI plans.
Parents, Families and the Broader Community
The Ladue School District is a microcosm of our greater community and nation. As a result, we also need the support of those who do not spend the majority of their day in our schools but still have a great impact on our students and the school environment. Therefore, we are committed to proactively engaging with parents and the broader community and to creating opportunities for us all to work together in taking responsibility for creating a safe and welcoming school environment for all students.
Parents are encouraged to get involved in their child’s education and the district’s beliefs and practices in this area are outlined in Board Policy IGBC: Parent/Family Involvement in Instructional and Other Programs.
In addition, parents are encouraged to get involved in their school parent associations and other individual school activities to the extent they are able so the experiences and opportunities provided to students through these associations and events are reflective of the desires and abilities of the entire school community.
In addition, all parents, but particularly those of color, are invited to C.U.R.E. meetings. C.U.R.E. stands for Community Understanding Respect Education and meets several times during the school year, along with district teachers and administrators, to district issues of particular interest to our minority families and students. To get notification of C.U.R.E. meetings, please email email@example.com.
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History of Diversity in the Ladue School District
While the Ladue School District is much more diverse than most people realize, the history of how we became such a culturally diverse community is also interesting and important. We encourage all stakeholders in our community to review the following:
- Ladue School District Diversity Milestones
- St. Louis and Race – The Weight of History, by E. Terrence Jones, University of Missouri-St. Louis
The following high school student organizations provide outlets for students to gather and discuss issues and opportunities regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These clubs are available to all students to attend. To get more information about individual clubs, organizations, and meetings, go to the high school website and access the activities page from the menu bar.
- Best Buddies. Pairs general education students with special education students to create friendships.
- Club A.S.K. Builds awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities through sports activities.
- Club Amigos del Español. Focuses on using the Spanish language for enrichment and cultural purposes and looks for ways to connect with the Hispanic community in St. Louis.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Provides a safe environment for students to talk about their faith and sports.
- Feminist Coalition of Ladue. Brings awareness to what feminism is about. Discusses issues around the school and community related to gender issues.
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Promotes a safe environment for LGBTQ students and their straight allies.
- Global Humanitarian Club. Increases cultural awareness through teaching about other cultures, organizing guest speakers and joining in events held by local cultural institutions.
- Jewish Student Union. Teaches about and involves students in Jewish culture.
- LAASA Ladue African-American Students. Provides venues for LHWHS African-American students to excel academically, celebrate heritage and culture, and develop leadership skills. Promotes social awareness, positive relationships, volunteering, mentoring and scholarship fundraising.
- Ladue Amnesty International. Raises awareness about human rights violations.
- Multicultural Club. Fosters multicultural understanding within the high school community.
- Muslim Student Association. Teaches others about Islam and the foundations of the religion.
- RISE. Provides academic and social support, as well as mentoring, for freshman and upperclassmen new to LHWHS.
- Social Justice League of Ladue. Allows students to gain knowledge about social justice issues in a safe space where they can express and discuss their ideas and concerns.
Connecting with Other School Districts
Understanding we are simply a microcosm of our greater community, the Ladue School District seeks opportunities to connect with area school districts to share best practices, resources, experience, and information.