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Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Buchanan-Rivera
My name is Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera and I am the Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer of Hamilton Southeastern Schools. I value teaching and modeling equitable methods that promote inclusive excellence. It is my role to examine the systems, policies, and practices that may inadvertently breed inequities within our schools. I am passionate about cultural responsive pedagogy, inclusivity, and ensuring that each classroom is an identity-safe environment or a classroom free of stereotypical views.
smiling kids in classroom
Identity Safe Schools

In Hamilton Southeastern Schools, we define equity as the concept of giving each individual what is needed to succeed within our global society. Cultural studies demonstrate that students need to feel identity-safe within educational settings in order to experience success. Identity-safe spaces affirm the strengths of students and allow for them to be their authentic selves within an inclusive environment. Given that research, assessment data, and qualitative studies convey that identity-safety significantly influences teaching and learning, student diversity challenges us to explore ways to bridge cultural differences and devise responsive practices that affirm and accept the identities of each learner. Each student deserves a school where educators teach inclusively and dismantle barriers that prohibit students from their authentic selves.

Why is Identity Safety Important

Research demonstrates that teaching and learning is effective when an environment is grounded in equity and inclusivity. Students are receptive to learning when their emotionality is supported within a culturally-responsive educational environment. When students are subjected to bias, stereotypical views, prejudice, and rejection due to their identity, it affects their mental health which hinders academic progress. The emotional toll of bullying and pressures to conform or alter one’s identity, not only impacts learning, but potentially leads to self-inflicted harm, suicidal thoughts, or school violence. HSE educators are engaged in intentional discussions and action plans pertaining to identity safety. Furthermore, we are making it a priority to be reflective practitioners who examine our own bias and beliefs in efforts to ensure a safe space for all learners.
District Equity Team and Building Level Coaches

Our district has an equity team comprised of K-12 administrators. We discuss practices, policies, and the living experiences of students through an equitable lens. Equity teams also exist in each school at a building level, led by an appointed educator known as an equity coach. The coaches help fellow colleagues and staff members to engage in dialogues as well as educational opportunities that focus on inclusion. Coaches work closely with their building administrators as well as with the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer.
The Language of Inclusive Excellence

This term is the concept of giving students what is needed to succeed or survive, based on where they are at individually and where they aspire to go.

The term diversity is used to describe a numerical representation of differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations).

The term inclusion is used to describe the act of being included and ongoing engagement with diversity. It reflects the intentional ways and methods that bring awareness to diversity and the individuals served within our corporation.
smiling kids in classroom
Inclusive Excellence Model

The Inclusive Excellence model derives from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. It reflects the belief that diversity and equitable practices are catalysts for educational excellence including inclusive environments. Therefore, inclusive practices must be visible at all levels, from instructional practices to community relations. Differences are viewed as strengths and unite us.

The areas of focus include the following:

Access and Equity - Objective related to inclusive and equitable representation

Climate - Objective related to the experiences that are inclusive and supportive of all students

Diversity in the Curriculum and Co-Curriculum - Objective related to infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion into the instructional experience

Learning and Development - Objective related to improving the cultural fluency of the department/school

Intercultural Engagement - Objective related to the skills and motivation to build partnerships and social capital for schools

HSE equity coaches and building level teams devise goals, strategies, and targeted outcomes for five areas of focus to advance inclusive practices.

HSE Diversity Student Organizations

S.A.F.E (Student Alliance for Equity)

R.A.D. (Riverside Accepts Diversity)

Muslim Student Association

Black Student Union

World Connections

Future Black Leaders

GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance)

Beyond Me (Haitian Entrepreneurship)

Stigma Free

smiling kids in classroom

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

  • Central Office
  • 13485 Cumberland Road, Fishers, IN 46038
  • Office Hours: M - F 7:30am - 4:30pm 
  • (317) 594-4100  (800) 905-6665
  • Email General Inquiries

Our Mission

Hamilton Southeastern Schools, as a forward-thinking school district, provides educational opportunities to ensure the success of each and every student, to become a responsible citizen and to positively influence an ever-changing world community.