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Guest Voices: My Perspective on Equity in Action

October 4th, 2019

As a recruitment specialist in the Office of Human Resources, Sandy Saval has recruited and facilitated the hiring process for teachers in a variety of content areas. A graduate of Hammond High School, she began her career as an elementary teacher with HCPSS in 1999, then taught middle school health before moving to the Office of Human Resources in 2017. She recently transitioned to her current role as a human resources business partner.

The first time I was formally exposed to the concept of equity as an educator was during my junior year of college. My mentor teacher introduced the contrast between “fair” and “equal” in approaching student needs after one of our students complained, “That’s not fair!” Anyone who regularly interacts with children knows that this common childhood refrain is actually a protest of unequal treatment. So the teacher responded by explaining that equal would be treating every student the same way, whereas fair would be based on what each student needs. I can’t say whether that distinction stuck with all the students present that day, but it certainly stuck with me, and ever since I have strived to view my work through a lens of ensuring equity for our students, families and staff.

Sandy Saval speaks with an HCPSS HR colleague.

Equity drives many of our decisions and practices during recruitment and hiring for HCPSS. We strive to attract a wide and diverse pool of candidates, so that we may fill every vacancy with the best possible educator, and we work to minimize any barriers in the application process. While screening applications, and throughout the interview process, we consider how each candidate reveals their beliefs and expectations for students and families. These insights are key to hiring staff who will provide the access, opportunities and supports students need to reach their full potential.

During onboarding sessions, we introduce all new hires to the Strategic Call to Action and its core principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. We strive to develop understanding of our shared work and inspire each new employee to make connections between their role and student success. We promote opportunities for professional development and individualized supports that exist to ensure staff success as well. Often, new hires who had experience in other school systems share that our work around equity is at the heart of their desire to be a part of HCPSS because we are seen as a leader in this area.

Sandy Saval speaks with a colleague.

From my experience, the Simulated Congressional Hearings (SCH) are an excellent example of equity in action. It has been a privilege serving as a SCH judge at Jeffers Hill Elementary School for the past two years. I appreciate how the teachers and staff excel in giving every student equitable access to this opportunity. Observers cannot perceive whether any students needed language support or other special services to fully participate. The SCH experience gives every fifth grade student the opportunity to be successful in some way, and I love seeing the pride on each student’s face as they demonstrate their understanding of the Constitution.

As a recruitment specialist in the Office of Human Resources, and in my new role as human resources business partner, I am proud to represent a school district that places equity at the center of every priority and process.