Educating the educators: HPDA club and the Schoology course for SPPS teachers

By: Caroline Crosby (Vice President of Disability Alliance club at Highland)

Highland Park Senior High School, as well as similar learning establishments around the Twin Cities, display great student body diversity. It may be inferred, then, that a variety of individuals and ranging abilities demands a variety of accommodating instruction and environments.

Inclusion and accessibility are crucial in any working facility, especially in academic settings catered towards young adults and adolescence. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics dictates that the current 7 million students with disabilities in the U.S. comprise 14% of national public school enrollment. No small number!

With this significant information in mind, HP’s own Disability Alliance club (known to many Scotties as “DA club” for short) has been collaborating with the Office of Equity, and other district staff members, to create a comprehensive Schoology course on ableism. The course is described as an asynchronous educational training tool for SPPS faculty and teachers.

The goal? To prompt reflection and growth with attitude, bias, and experiences regarding education and ableism in schools. It may* include informative content on student perspective, the history of disability rights and laws, implicit bias, inclusive suggestions for the classroom, and much more.

As the VP of Disability Alliance, my hope is that this project will prompt lasting, progressive, change for faculty and students alike. Our club has been working closely to provide an in-depth understanding of academic encounters from middle and high schoolers’ perspectives.

From April 21 to May 9, DA opened a survey recording student experiences with accessibility in school. It was available to 6-12 graders anywhere within the district, and collected written and recorded accounts that may be used in the course material.

By the time submissions closed, the survey had collected a whopping 712 responses! Members of the club’s executive board were reportedly ecstatic with the volume of data that the survey received. 

When asked about her time working with the project, HP Junior, Founder, and DA Club President Rui Rui Bleifuss said, “I’m so excited for the impact of the Schoology course, and everything that comes with it. I look forward to seeing the change, and hope it raises awareness around the topics of inclusion + accessibility!”

It appears that enthusiasm for their work was shared across the board! Fellow Junior, and Club Treasurer, Samara Hickle stated, “I love working with Sherry Kempf and the other administrators! I hope this course will educate teachers and give them a better understanding of our experiences as students.”

As those involved move forward with the Schoology course and its illuminating information; students, teachers, and faculty can work day by day to promote a more inclusive environment for all. Positive change is often founded both by organized contribution, and individual participation!

*As a disclaimer: discussed/listed aspects of the Schoology course material in this article are not indicative of the final product. Finalized features and course details are subject to change. For questions or concerns, contact the DA club directly at hpdaclub@gmail.com.

For additional statistics on education and persons with disabilities, please visit:

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