Dr. Steve Gregor addresses goals as new District Equity Officer

Dr. Steve Gregor, Director of Secondary Education, has taken on the additional role as District Equity Officer in an effort to promote educational equity in the district.

By Krista Cerminaro

Director of Secondary Education Steve Gregor was recently appointed Washington Township Public Schools’ district equity officer, a new position created by Superintendent Joe Bollendorf.

Gregor took on the additional role — which is emerging in districts across the country — in an effort to “promote and coordinate a systemic educational equity,” and tear down any barriers that might exist, so students can ultimately feel comfortable and succeed in their school setting.

“Picture it like three kids trying to watch a baseball game over the fence. One kid is tall enough to see over the fence, the other two are not, but one is still shorter than the other. If we give them the same box to stand on — and that’s ‘equal’ — only two out of three can see the game,” Gregor explained. “‘Equity would be to remove the fence altogether.”

Gregor attributed this philosophy to training he has done through Paul Gorski of George Mason University.

“I’ve been studying this for a couple of years, and I’ve been looking for ways to make sure that every student feels comfortable in our schools, and every student has equal access to curriculum and programming,” Gregor said. “As a former principal, I saw unfilled needs in that area — now, as district equity officer, I can form a coalition of people to come up with solutions and policies that make progress toward that goal.”

Gregor has worked in the district since 1989, holding positions from high school teacher, to district technology trainer, to district supervisor for social studies, to Orchard Valley Middle School principal. Prior to being appointed as district equity officer, Gregor has taken part in online discussions and researched policies and school procedures to see how some barriers can be removed for families facing those challenges.

“We’re developing school-based equity committees, comprised of teachers and other staff members, who would try to turn key principles of equity to their staff that look for areas of improvement. And then, they would answer to the District Equity Coalition, which is a larger committee comprised of teachers, leaders, community members, board members and students, who would look to bring policy and procedure in alignment with equity principles,” Gregor said.

Gregor explained with the implementation of this new position, students can expect to see changes in the classroom-level from the fifth grade to high school level, resulting in a more differentiated and personalized approach to the delivery of instruction. This is a result of training teachers in LATIC — learner-active technology-infused classroom.

This teaching approach, according to Gregor, allows students to select individualized learning tasks that appeal to their specific learning style — such as using a podcast instead of writing or taking a test to show what they’ve learned.

Gregor said a sampling of teachers was trained, receiving in-class coaching from IDE Corporation consultants, and student-leaders were trained by the Anti-Defamation League to turnkey information to their fellow classmates. Additionally, Gregor hopes to provide a learning lab where other districts can come out and create an equity framework for other schools.

“I would like to work against deficit ideology,” Gregor said. “We need to change our thinking about why some families do not participate fully in their child’s education. It’s not for lack of desire, it’s for lack of access — that’s why we need to remove the barriers. Not just make things equitable, but remove the barriers to our educational resources.”