Culturally Responsive Education

Culture. Race. Diversity. Inclusion. Equity. Access.
Culturally Responsive logo and graphic tree
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.

What is CR-SE?

What is Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education?

The CR-SE is a framework utilized in New York State education that creates student-centered learning environments to: 

• 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 three years ago with a multi-tiered approach led by now Superintendent Ty Zinkiewich. This approach, which is outlined on these pages, engages different stakeholders in a series of conversations in the area of CRE.

Student Summits

Spencerport holds regular virtual meetings with our middle and high school students, to continue the conversation around race, diversity, culture, and equity, and more specifically to learn about their personal instructional and social experiences within our district and schools.   

From these meetings, the students developed the following recommendations:

 1. Teacher and staff professional development
  • Training on how to address use of the n word
  • Honest conversations about microaggressions and their impact
  • Extend dialogue and acknowledge diversity –going beyond black and white

 2. Analyze policies that involve discrimination (i.e. Code of Conduct)
  • Engage students in conversations about restorative practice procedures for individuals that display prejudice in schools
3. Continuation/expansion of student summits, Equity Committee, faculty meetings, professional development, and candid conversations

Students also helped to inform and develop the following target objectives:

Student objectives for Culturally Responsive Education

Professional Learning & Training

  • 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. 

 NYU Steinhardt
  • Over the last few years, SCSD teachers, counselors, principals and administrators have attended a six-part training to further develop CRE competency within our district. The training is offered through NYU and Monroe 2 BOCES, and:
  • 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
  • Faculty meetings during the 2021-22 school year will continue to build upon the progress made in the last two years
  • Engaged the expertise of Shane Wiegand, a fourth grade teacher in Rush Henrietta who has developed lessons about racism
  • Spencerport, along with other Monroe County school districts, have partnered with Wiegand and the PathStone Foundation to provide more in-depth curriculum focused on structural racism in Rochester - from its history to present day, as well as resistance against it.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is another key area in Spencerport’s work with CRE. The district has held a number of meetings to connect with our Urban-Suburban parents.

The Equity Committee, consisting of parents, students, community members, civic leaders, and staff, has met both in-person and virtually to grow our efforts around CRE.

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%

Important definitions

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.

Equity Diversity Inclusion (DEI) Statements:

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.

Equity - Equitable access and personalized opportunities to every stakeholder in the Spencerport learning community.
Inclusion – Every Spencerport student and family feels valued, welcomed, and accepted  throughout the learning community.

For more definitions and glossary terms please visit this link.

Anti-Racism Resources and Information


The Sesame Workshop:
Coming Together: talking to children about race, ethnicity and culture

Sesame Workshop

Words that don't belong to everyone.

Teaching Tolerance: a website to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.

Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school.

Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance):
How to speak up against racism
    Critical practices for anti-bias education
    Color blindness

NPR Code switch
All my relations (an examination of representation of Native Americans in American media

More Videos
Ted talk: The Danger of a Single Story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Importance of interrupting a racist joke

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

CNN: 5 tasks for white people

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

Books for students by grade level

Culturally Responsive Books by Grade level

Additional SCSD Initiatives

  • Increasing diversity in character and author representation


  • Choosing mentor texts kits for writing instruction and author studies with a focus on increasing diversity in our representation.
  • Purchasing books for each classroom teacher for use in SEL and CRE instruction with a focus on increasing diversity in representation for both authors and characters.
  • New titles were BOE approved for use in grades 6-12 that focused on increasing the diversity of characters, authors, and perspectives. Class sets of books were purchased and will afford teachers the opportunity to use them in literature circles, book clubs, and independent reading.

  • Shift to the new US History exam has social studies teachers focusing on teaching students to read for bias and the ways it may impact the message of a text (i.e. article, advertisement, cartoon, book, speech, etc.)


  • High School English curriculum underwent major revision, changing focus of the units of instruction from a central text to a genre study with a focus on developing specific transferrable literacy skills.

    • The 2020-2021 school year included the implementation of the Informational genre unit.
    • Every year, an additional new unit will be implemented.
    • Curriculum has been written so that any text can be used in a unit, allowing for increased diversity in representation and social justice issues.
    • The informational units at each grade level provide an opportunity for conversations on social justice topics, reading from a wide variety of perspectives, and the invitation for students to share their voices through their topic selections for publishing and researching.