By Karen Uthe Semancik
When Dr. Holly Schafer was hired as Bay Village City School District’s first-ever director of human resources in June of 2019, one of her first goals was to create a more holistic approach in developing faculty and staff in the areas of culture, diversity and hiring. Schafer soon reached out to Cuyahoga Community College and its Corporate College team to inquire about professional development honoring diversity.
After developing an understanding of Schafer’s goals for the district’s nearly 500 employees, Tri-C’s team of Westshore Dean of Academic Affairs Bob Searson, along with Tri-C’s Corporate College’s Jody Wheaton and Geraldine Weiser, got to work in developing a diversity and inclusion training program where both Bay Village Schools’ certified and classified employees could earn certification.
Next, Schafer applied for grant money for the diversity certification program via Corporate College’s TechCred process so as many faculty and staff members as possible could participate in the program.
“We were excited to receive funding for two of the four grants that Bay Village Schools applied for,” said Schafer. “We appreciated all the support Corporate College provided throughout the TechCred application process.”
Launched on November 18, 2020, the partnership offers a live, six-hour virtual Diversity Champion Certificate Program, “focusing on developing the skills necessary to lead by example as inclusive colleagues, and to create inclusive and equitable learning environments for students,” said Wheaton, Corporate College’s executive director of client solutions and programs.
Fifteen Bay Village Schools’ faculty and staff signed on for and completed the inaugural certification program, ranging from social studies teachers to the district’s superintendent, Jodie Hausmann. The newly minted team was recognized at the January 25, 2021 Bay Village Board of Education meeting, with Board Vice President Dave Vegh honoring each employee with a certificate.
“Once our students gain both perspective and empathy, then change can begin,” said Vegh.
It didn’t take long for that to happen. Shortly after receiving their certifications, the 15 honorees were part of a team that created a robust initiative for Black History Month called the 28-Day Challenge. Faculty, staff, students, parents and community members were encouraged to participate in a month-long series of assignments and events that included virtual museum visits to places like the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, to reading books and poems by Black authors, to volunteering for local nonprofits. Those completing the 28-Day Challenge earned a digital badge for their efforts.
“We had created an internal Diversity and Equity Committee last summer, which includes faculty, staff, students and community members, but we knew we wanted to do more,” Schafer said. “With our newly launched Diversity Champion Certificate Program, we can.”
“We already have our second group registered for the next six-week program,” said Bay Village Schools Superintendent Jodie Hausmann. “I’m so proud of the commitment our faculty and staff have made to honor an equitable and inclusive culture within Bay Village Schools.”