Culturally Responsive Education

What is Culturally Responsive Education?

Culture. Race. Diversity. Inclusion. Equity. Access.

Every individual reflects on these words differently, with personal viewpoints, beliefs and experiences. As a nation and even in our own communities, addressing these differences often has become uncomfortable and divisive. School districts – including Spencerport – understand the potential of these conversations; yet we also understand the responsibility we have as parents, community and educators to ensure all students receive equal access to a quality education in a learning environment that is safe, welcoming, and free of discrimination.
Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education
The words, Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CRE), are being used more and more in New York State Education as a framework to create student-centered learning environments that:

• Affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities;
• Prepare students for rigor and independent learning;
• Develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference;
• Elevate historically marginalized voices; and
• Empower students as agents of social change.

The framework itself is grounded in four principles:
• Welcoming and Affirming Environment
• High Expectations and Rigorous Instruction
• Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment
• Ongoing Professional Learning

The 64-page framework, which may be found on the NYS website at, goes into more depth on each principle and its intended outcomes.

Locally, the Spencerport Central School District initiated work around CRE last school year with a multi-tiered approach. This approach, which is outlined on these pages, engaged different stakeholders in a series of conversations in the area of CRE.

Student summits

Spencerport held a series of five summits so far to gain student perspectives on diversity and CRE in our district. Led by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Ty Zinkiewich, students from Cosgrove and the high school have offered insight and personal experiences on race, culture, equity, instruction, and curriculum. The group has also helped to define the following terms as we move forward with this work: Equal Learning Opportunity (much like an Equal Employment statement); and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) statements. These definitions may be found below.
Professional Learning

Spencerport’s Board of Education, superintendent and leadership have committed to ongoing professional learning and support around CRE. Last summer, administrators focused on social emotional learning, as well as CRE, during their annual retreat.

Twenty-four SCSD teachers, counselors, principals and administrators are also attending a six-part training to further develop CRE competency within our district. The training:
• examines what it means to be culturally responsive;
• helps to assess and develop CRE practices; and
• provides a reflective framework to shift believes, policies and practices to support students and their families to address inequities.

The October Superintendent’s Conference Day focused on building awareness around CRE for our teachers and staff. This day included breakout sessions and a student-led panel to encourage open dialogue, invite change, and embrace more culturally diverse curriculum.

Community Engagement

Community engagement will be another key area in Spencerport’s work with CRE. The district held a meeting with one stakeholder group so far - the Spencerport/Urban Suburban parents. Zinkiewich and building principals provided an update on our work and obtained feedback and suggestions.

To extend this effort, Spencerport has created an Equity Committee, and would like representation from our parents and community. Information on this committee may be found in the sidebar of this article.

This update appeared in our Dec. 2019 edition of Cornerstone

More on the NYS framework:

New York State’s public school student population is among the most racially and socioeconomically diverse in the United States.

Statewide, enrollment data shows public school students are 45% white, 26% Latinx, 18% Black, 9% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2% multiracial, and 1% Native American.

Spencerport Central Schools are not as diverse compared to these state figures, however a comparison of data from 2000-01 to 2017-18 shows our population has changed to reflect more student diversity:                                                                                       

 Population  2000-01  2017-18
 White    92.5%     81%
 Latinx      1.4%     
 Asian/Pacific Islander      2.5%       2%
 Black/African American 
     3.5%       5%
 Multiracial  no data       5%

What is CRE?
Culturally responsive education is an approach that recognizes the importance of including various cultural references in all aspects of learning, and Spencerport understands its responsibility in becoming more inclusive in all our district and school instruction and engagement practices.

This web section is dedicated to the work we are doing around Culturally Responsive Education, including instructional efforts, professional development, and implementation. We will also provide important resources and updates, so please keep checking back.

Questions or feedback? Please email us at this link.

Spencerport held a series of summits to gain student perspectives on culturally responsive education in our district. In addition, students helped to define the following terms as we move forward with this work.

Equal Learning Opportunity (much like an Equal Opportunity Employment Statement)

Spencerport Central Schools is an equal opportunity educational system and will work to ensure that our curriculum and instructional materials reflect the needs of our students.  The responsibility of education throughout the Spencerport learning community involves making connections and providing students opportunities to enhance their personal and academic well-being.  Spencerport is responsible for educating each and every student through a culturally responsive approach to provide equity and access for all.

EDI Statements:
Equity - Equitable access and personalized opportunities to every stakeholder in the Spencerport learning community.
Diversity – Continuously valuing, reflecting, and acknowledging the differences among the stakeholders here in Spencerport including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, customs, gender, physical appearance, religion, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation.
Inclusion – Every Spencerport student and family feels valued, welcomed, and accepted  throughout the learning community.

Culturally Responsive Education, powerpoint presentation from Superintendent's Conference Day, Oct. 11, 2019.

Contact us:

Ty Zinkiewich, Asst. Superintendent for Instruction, is leading our Culturally Responsive Education efforts. To contact his office, please call 349-5130 or email

Superintendent Message

MCCOSS stand united against racism

Spencerport Equity Committee

Equity Committee photo

Culturally Responsive Books by Grade level
Race and Culture Resources:

CNN: 5 tasks for white people struggling with issues of race
CNN: 5 tasks for white people

Updated June 9, 2020:

Race and Culture eBooks and Audiobooks
Compiled by Monroe2BOCES and located on their library site:

White Fragility
• eBook:

• audiobook:
Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain
• eBook:

The New Jim Crow
• eBook:
• audiobook:
How to be an Antiracist
• eBook:
• audiobook:

Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
• eBook:
We Got This
• audiobook:

Stamped from the Beginning
• eBook:
• audiobook:

Stamped- Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award from the Beginning
• eBook:
Automating Inequality: How High Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor
• eBook:
• audiobook:

Be the Bridge
• eBook:
• audiobook:

More Resources and Articles:

Culturally Responsive-
Sustaining Education Framework

New York State
Education Dept.
Mar., 2019 
Implicit Bias Test
by Harvard for
Project Implicit
Everyone has invisible bias
Jacquelyn Whiting
Sep., 2019
A White Teacher grapples with his Privilege
by Colin Turner
Education Week
Sep., 2019
Student video:
"In their own Words"

Democrat and Chronicle
Dec. 16, 2018
A Look at Race Relations through 
a Child's Eyes

CNN Anderson Cooper
Apr, 2012
#HatchKids discuss Microaggressions
SheKnows Media
Feb. 2015
What is Privilege?
Jul., 2015
White Fragility article
by Robin DiAngelo
International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 2011
White Fragility
Debunking the most common myths

video by Robin DiAngelo/NBC News
Sep., 2018