Culture & Climate In Support of Equity

The district has established a specific goal and is taking action steps to ensure that the district's Culture and Climate support equity for all.

Build a system-wide culture of equity where all students and staff feel safe and respected, know that they matter, and that they add value


We continue to assess culture and climate and address the need for all students to feel a sense of belonging in school. School-based restorative practices are being piloted to create a culture of connectivity where all members of the school community feel valued. Supports for students' social and emotional learning and mental health are continuing. We monitor student reports of "feeling connected to their school" through the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey. And in developmentally appropriate ways, staff are supporting students in all grades on the Portrait of A Needham Graduate competencies for being Socially and Culturally Responsive Contributors; i.e., students are learning to understand and respect diversity and to act with empathy and courage to ensure equity, access, and an antiracist culture. A prime example is the CCOR course (Courageous Conversations on Race) at the high school.


The increase in school community multicultural events, school-based art projects, Unified Sports, and programming like Pollard's Students Taking Action Day -- all of which emphasize student belonging, inclusion and diversity -- directly address the need to strengthen our school cultures and ensure the climate empowers learners.


Culture & Climate updates will be posted at the close of this school year. Please see below for historical perspective on the action steps carried out over the years to address Culture & Climate through the lens of equity.


Action Steps:

  • Used District Survey for monitoring students' perspectives on the following measures: sense of belonging, efficacy, sense of safety; use findings to inform focused work at the school level specific to each school's culture.
  •  Collaborated with SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Committee to examine and align SEL framework with culturally responsive practices; Created Rubrics ("Look Fors") for individual buildings.
  • Students shared cultures/holidays, engaged in an SEL curriculum and, at the high school, lead conversations at student assemblies on specific topics of race and equity.
  • Faculty posted signs of safety and visuals of cultures, and continued to implement culturally responsive teaching.
  • Faculty assisted with various clubs in helping students advocate for equity.
  • Each building provided opportunities for families to participate (e.g., community meeting to hear from students regarding work in areas of racial equity).
  • “ALL School Read” held annually along with equity-focused activities.
  • Administrators in each building worked towards establishing Culture and Climate Committees.
  • District purchased culturally responsive materials for classrooms.
  • Created Culture and Climate Building Survey; reviewed results with individual principals and solicited their feedback on next steps. Survey results in 2019: 3 Schools have Culture & Climate Committees; 5 schools have mechanism to track racial incidents; schools analyze incidents at different times; 5 schools feel signage does not reflect students in building; 5 schools have not held an event on the topic of race; all 8 schools offer PD to faculty and staff in their buildings; all 8 schools need tools and strategies to implement culturally responsive pedagogy. Recommendations in 2019: Form Culture & Climate Committee in every school; Ensure signage reflects all students in the building; Analyze data to intentionally drive actions to address needs of marginalized students (MetroWest Survey, District Survey, Building-Based and/or Classroom Equity Survey, Attendance Tracking through Nurse or Guidance); Use existing leverage points (SIP, Building-based PD, SEL Leader/Committee, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Family & Community Engagement); Provide safe spaces and pathways for students to gain meaningful connections with adults, including students of color living in Needham.

Equity Art Project

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