Leadership for Diverse Schools

Leadership for Diverse Schools (LDS) is a program of Leadership York presented in collaboration with the York JCC’s diversity services.

Educators, support staff and administrators from across York County school districts come together for a 9-month program designed to:

  • Enhance their leadership skills;
  • Become more aware of their personal biases;
  • Better understand how valuing and embracing diversity is an integral part of a school’s success;
  • Have an opportunity to share ideas and seek different perspectives from their peers in other York County schools; and
  • Be advocates for diversity within their school and district.

LDS began in 2007 as a York Counts Engagement, helping to advance the York Counts agenda. Each year between 25-35 educators participate and learn more about the culture and major religions of York County, African American, and Latino cultures and working with exceptional students, whether students with learning disabilities or identified as gifted. The participants also gain knowledge of sexual orientation and socio-economic biases. Most importantly, the class members meet with prior LDS graduates from their district to continue to develop and tweak their district’s plan for embracing diversity.

As a result of the LDS program, many school districts have now formed Diversity Committees and the LDS graduates are sharing their increased knowledge with other faculty. Some have even become trainers and lead diversity activities and discussions with their peers and their students.

Hear what one participant had to say about the Leadership for Diverse Schools program:

(As printed in the JCC Winter 2008 Diversity Newsletter)

Michael Headings: Central York School District – Diversity Services

“Embracing diversity is a passion of mine. I signed up for the LDS program because I wanted to dialogue with my students about diversity issues in a more confident way. I also wanted to have additional stories to share with them that would help them seek new perspectives and a better understanding of differences.

The LDS program started off with an overnight retreat and to be perfectly honest, I was dreading it, as were most of the other participants. I mean, here we were going back to “dorm” life after many years and well, that wasn’t the most appealing thought. Yet, it turned out to be the best experience of the LDS program because the bonds built between the class members are invaluable. The connections made that weekend, along with the thought provoking leadership and bias awareness activities presented, prepared us to be true diversity advocates in our schools and communities. Each session throughout the course was filled with meaningful and applicable information to guide all of us in building plans to help create safe environments for all our students.

My eyes were opened through being in this program. I have an enormous group of people to support me in my diversity initiative; 32 fellow LDS classmates, plus the faculty of JCC diversity programs and Leadership York. I can contact any one of them and they immediately get what I’m talking about in addition to being very supportive and encouraging. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and told my fellow teachers about the benefits of participating.”