Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District

Episode 57 - The Equity Experience with Mr. Ashley Porter

March 04, 2022 Seneca Valley School District Season 2 Episode 57
Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District
Episode 57 - The Equity Experience with Mr. Ashley Porter
Show Notes Transcript

The Equity Experience with Mr. Ashley Porter

Mr. Ashley Porter, Seneca Valley School District Equity Supervisor 

Ashley Porter has experience as an elementary school principal for Pittsburgh Roosevelt Elementary School in the Pittsburgh Public School District, and high school vice principal for Moon Area and Big Beaver Falls School Districts in Allegheny and Beaver counties, respectively. Prior to his administrative roles, he was a director of online learning and teacher for Big Beaver Falls.  Mr. Porter also served as the assistant principal at Haine Elementary and most recently assistant principal of Seneca Valley Academy of Choice, both here in the Seneca Valley School District.

Mr. Porter earned his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned his Technology Integration K-12 Certification from Penn State University. He also earned his Master of Education in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.


  • What is the role of the Supervisor of Equity 
  • The areas  that this role will cover with students and staff regarding diversity, equity and inclusion 


 FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)


00:00:02:27 - 00:00:10:06

Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a National Award-winning podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District. 


00:00:11:11 - 00:00:23:16

Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff. Today I'm talking to Mr. Ashley Porter, who is the fairly newly named supervisor of equity at Seneca Valley School District. Thanks for joining us today. 


00:00:24:09 - 00:00:25:00

Ashley Porter: Thanks for having me. 


00:00:25:08 - 00:00:37:29

Jeff Krakoff: So I know this is brand new as of 2022. Can you give us a little bit of a background as to how the position came about when it came about, when you joined the district? 


00:00:39:01 - 00:01:11:12

Ashley Porter: Absolutely. So, Jeff, this is this has been this position has actually been something that our administrative staff and our school board have been discussing for maybe within the last year or so, just because so many things over the years that have changed and developed and the need for someone to lead this type of work in our district, they found to be something that was super important. So as the result, this position materialized. 


00:01:11:24 - 00:01:33:03

Ashley Porter: Now I actually stepped into into this position at the end or latter part of January of 2022. So this year. So like you said earlier, I'm fairly new and so I'm excited to get started with work and I'm also kind of transitioning in that role from the assistant principal of Seneca Valley Academy of Choice andour cyber program. 


00:01:33:09 - 00:01:45:29

Jeff Krakoff: Mm-Hmm. So ok, that's good. It's good to come in with that educational background. Could you share a little bit more about your experience professionally before this new position? 


00:01:46:16 - 00:02:18:11

Ashley Porter: Absolutely. So as I started teaching my teaching career as a third grade teacher in the Beaver Falls School District, and I actually taught there and was an administrator there for about 14 years, and then I actually served as an administrator at the Moon Area School District as well and their high school before becoming a school a building principal for an elementary school in Pittsburgh public. And then I was fortunate enough to get a position here at Seneca Valley as the assistant principal at Hane Elementary. 


00:02:19:00 - 00:02:38:21

Ashley Porter: And then that kind of moved into me going to the Seneca Valley Academy of Choice as the assistant principal. So that's kind of how my experience has kind of moved forward over the years. So I've had some experience, you know, K through 12 in a number of different areas. So, you know, I'm excited to be able to work in a capacity that I'm in right now. 


00:02:39:02 - 00:02:46:01

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah. Nice rounded background by age. And it's nice that you've got familiarity with Seneca Valley, but also you've worked elsewhere, 


00:02:46:18 - 00:02:47:03

Ashley Porter: Right. 


00:02:47:05 - 00:02:53:26

Jeff Krakoff: and bring things to the table there. So where are you located? Where where's your office? 


00:02:55:20 - 00:03:31:06

Ashley Porter: So my new office is in central administration, in the city administration building here on the secondary campus. But, you know, in saying that, I always try to make it clear that part of my position is moving around. So you know once I'm fully immersed in the position itself. You know, I'll be at all of our buildings here in the district kind of working with staff members, working students and all of that. So I get opportunity to work with people, you know, in their own locations around the district so that my office is based at Central Administration on the secondary campus. 


00:03:31:29 - 00:03:41:15

Jeff Krakoff: OK, so I'm sure you're still putting plans together because it is so new. But how do you see your role as supervisor of equity? 


00:03:42:21 - 00:04:19:22

Ashley Porter: So the supervisor of equity consists of a number of different things. So, for example, this position will allow me to work directly with a lot of our district faculty staff members, which includes paraprofessionals, teachers, administrators, office personnel, community organizations. So the gamut and obviously, students as well. And the word equity itself is one of those inclusive words. It's a big word and inclusive word, and it means that we're going to work for the benefit of every single student in our district. 


00:04:19:24 - 00:04:38:15

Ashley Porter: And I have to say again, every single one of them is our priority. So that's where the word equity comes into play. And our goal is to enhance our school community just so that all students feel welcome, like this is a welcoming and warm environment for every student, no matter what their differences are. 


00:04:40:10 - 00:05:18:28

Ashley Porter: You know, we want kids to know and staff members to know it's not OK to treat people differently or inappropriately or poorly based off of, you know, differences or things that you perceive to be differences. So, you know, there's a lot to the role itself. We all know that students in general perform better and feel better and have a higher success rate if they feel comfortable in the environment that they exist in. So, you know, we just want to make sure that that our environment, our school environment is welcoming and warming and warm to everyone, all of our students. 


00:05:20:02 - 00:05:41:03

Ashley Porter: We want them to have a place to come to each and every day that they feel validated and they feel valued. So part of my position is to be that conduit, to be that person, to connect the students and the staff members and the work that we're doing in the classroom each day all together so that we're all on the same page and working for the benefit of all of our students. 


00:05:41:18 - 00:06:13:00

Jeff Krakoff: Got it. And you know, there's so much being talked about in the world about equity inclusion. So at a school district like Seneca Valley, are we really talking pretty much every way possible that people have differences, whether it's race, gender? Some of these more rural versus suburban are we talking just completely? Everybody should be included in what's happening and feel good about their their education process, right? 


00:06:13:21 - 00:06:14:13

Ashley Porter: Absolutely. 


00:06:15:06 - 00:06:29:11

Jeff Krakoff: So, you know, you did mention you're going to be working with staff, you're going to be working with paraprofessionals, teachers, but you did mention you're going to be out and about in the buildings. Do you also think that you'll be talking directly to students quite a bit in this role? 


00:06:30:26 - 00:07:03:12

Ashley Porter: So I think that part of the part of my role will be to directly communicate with students and a number of different ways, whether it be in a classroom, whether it be working with student organizations and helping to support them, which I have already gotten a chance to start to do with some of our organizations and meet some of the kids. So that for me has been, you know, exhilarating simply because I love cyber, but we don't get the same amount of communication and interaction with kids as I once did in my other positions. 


00:07:03:14 - 00:07:44:21

Ashley Porter: So I'm excited about about that. So what are the big goals that we we look at or overarching ideas that we look at as a district and within this position is the idea of equity and belonging and the idea of developing specific social competencies for our entire school community. What I mean by that is allowing our folks to have the skill to interact, to work with and respect everybody because we know that there are so many people coming to us on a daily basis within our district, even that have different backgrounds, different cultures, nationalities, races, genders, all of the above. 


00:07:45:20 - 00:08:23:18

Ashley Porter: But being able to interact successfully, understand and work with those different folks is a major 21st-century skill. And I think as a school district, we will be doing our students a great disservice if we did not teach them and give them these skills to be able to interact in a global society because our society far goes beyond our boundaries here in the Seneca Valley School District. So that's one of our big overarching ideas is to make sure all of our students are able to interact and work well and respect others, you know, in any situation. 


00:08:24:09 - 00:08:59:01

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah, I think one of the parts of growing is a student and a young adult, right, is you've got this group of friend, you have reference points where you grow up, where you go to school and then depending on where you choose to go to college, where you might end up from a work standpoint, whether it's in a trade or vocation or or professionally. The world's a lot bigger usually than the community we live in. So, you know, you mentioned social skills, is there some other areas of emphasis that you're going to cover as far as DIY goes? 


00:08:59:26 - 00:09:06:21

Ashley Porter: So the social skills is a big piece of it because that's the interaction in how we how we interact with other folks. 


00:09:08:09 - 00:09:43:23

Ashley Porter: And, you know, just the ability to respect and understand other folks and learn about other cultures to learn about the way that other people celebrate holidays, the way to learn about how other people interact within their family unit. Because, as you know, you could be interacting with someone at school or at work that looks just like you or is the same nationality as you are the same race as you are. But just for the mere fact that they were raised in a different household than you could make them different than you in a number of different ways. 


00:09:44:10 - 00:10:09:10

Ashley Porter: And so just being able to understand that those differences and respect people's differences and learning the history of different people, I think is going to be tremendous and have a major impact on our staff as well as our students. So those communication skills are involved in that, you know, so there are a number of different skills at all that are all combined with that, that work. 


00:10:09:27 - 00:10:24:23

Jeff Krakoff: Right? So I know you've got some big picture goals right over the next year; years, but as you just start this new role, can you give us a glimpse? What is the first year look like? 


00:10:26:10 - 00:11:01:01

Ashley Porter: So this year so far, because obviously when I came in, it was the start of the second semester this year for me, one of my biggest goals is to learn what we already have in place here in the district and not only learn because a lot of the things I already knew, because I've worked here for a number of years but really become a part of those things, really introduce myself to people who may not otherwise know me and build relationships. So the first part of this year to me, for me, is about learning, listening and building relationships. 


00:11:01:11 - 00:11:36:17

Ashley Porter: And that also includes community members. We have some community members that we connect with as well and that we've been working with for years as a district. So continuing those relationships, fostering new relationships. So that's what the first part of my occupancy of this particular group or this particular position is. So going into next year, as we move into next year, we're going to focus more on, you know, professional development opportunities for staff members, learning experiences for students, just building that culture in a number of different ways. 


00:11:36:20 - 00:11:42:07

Ashley Porter: So that's kind of where we are today and part of where we look to go to in the near future. 


00:11:42:27 - 00:11:53:18

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah, great! Is there anything else you'd like to tell students and parents and others in the community about, you know, DEI? Before I let you go. 


00:11:55:16 - 00:12:25:21

Ashley Porter: I just want folks to know that, you know, students in particular and parents as well that, you know, I have an open door policy and, you know, I always welcome ideas and things like that. So, you know, don't be afraid to reach out to me. I'm a very open person, approachable person. If you have some issues, concerns or ideas that will help make our community that much better. You know, don't hesitate to reach out to me in the district. I'll be happy to talk with you at any time. 


00:12:26:11 - 00:12:41:22

Jeff Krakoff: Awesome. It was great hearing about your efforts. Good luck in the next year and years to come. And again, that was Ashley Porter, supervisor of equity for Seneca Valley School District. Thanks so much and have a great day. 


00:12:42:07 - 00:12:42:22

Ashley Porter: Thank you.