Dublin City Schools in 2021: District puts diversity on list of high priorities

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

People saw a lot of things differently in 2020, but if there is agreement on one, it is that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic created challenges never before experienced in almost every segment of society. 

Some of those challenges will continue in 2021 as Dublin City Schools administrators prepare for a new year while also looking toward new goals. 

A focus on diversity in the district is among those goals, Superintendent Todd Hoadley said. 

“As Dublin grows more diverse so does our district, and we are focusing hard to address that diversity,” he said. 

Eversole Run Middle School, 9001 Gardenia Drive in Plain City, is expected to open for the 2021-22 school year. Dublin's fifth middle school will be the district's last one, according to Superintendent Todd Hoadley.

To that end, the district created a position of director of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Although similarly titled positions have existed in the past, this is a new position, said Doug Baker, public-information officer for the district. 

Through the new director, the school district would develop a more “global curriculum” and ensure students and staff are “culturally aware” of one another, Hoadley said. 

As the nation revisited issues of racial equality in 2020, Hoadley said, “it is appropriate to take the next step” by naming a director to “lift us in our endeavors.” 

Board members approved a job description in December and will be asked to approve the administration’s recommendation for the position, board President Chris Valentine said. 

Board Vice President Lynn May said the Black Lives Matter movement was localized through “Dear Dublin” stories about the nuances of racism that students had shared on social media during 2020 . 

“As a board, after the kids spoke up, we vowed we would listen, and we said that we would deal with it,” May said, adding that feeling accepted and being included are crucial to receiving a quality education. 

After a director is in place, May said, she hopes a committee of parents and representatives from any affected groups, including LGBTQ, could work with that person to address any concerns moving forward. 

“Our goal is to have a (director) on board by June,” Hoadley said. 

In a related effort, May said, the district, as part of its five-year curriculum-review cycle, will ensure the district’s social studies curriculum “is representative of the Dublin district.” 

The district also still will have the pandemic to address in 2021. Elementary schools remained in the hybrid mode when classes resumed Jan. 4, and middle school students will not resume in-person instruction, in the hybrid mode, until Jan. 11, Valentine said. 

“We hope to return high school students (who are not enrolled in the online academy) to class as soon as possible after that,” Valentine said. 

The district also will begin to assess the impact of the loss of in-person instruction. 

“Without a doubt, there will be disparities in our community, (but) our immediate goal (in 2021) is to get our kids back in school safely as soon as possible, assess the COVID gap and determine how we will catch up,” Valentine said. 

Although in-person learning is critical, Hoadley said, 2021 also will provide opportunities to continue using technology, including online instruction, to strengthen the district’s curriculum. 

“We have discovered new ways of learning,” Hoadley said. “The pandemic has been brutal, but the silver lining is that we have many models of education now that we can leverage.  

“Remote learning is working well for some of our students. It would be foolish to walk away, go back entirely to the old normal. We never would have imagined 12 months ago some of the things we are doing, but some of it will become part of our way of teaching.” 

Some of the changes in store for 2021 are physical: Some students will learn in a new school building. The district’s fifth middle school, Eversole Run Middle School, is slated to open in August. 

The $42 million middle school will be next door to the new Abraham Depp Elementary School, 9001 Gardenia Drive, in the Jerome Village development, in Union County’s Jerome Township on the district’s northernmost fringes. 

“Eversole Run will be our fifth, and final, middle school,” Hoadley said. 

The district already has redistricted to allow for the new middle school in an effort to reduce crowding at two of the other four middle schools, Davis and Sells, Hoadley said. 

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo