Designing for Equity
Designing for Equity

Together, educators are doing the reimagining and reinvention work necessary to make true educational equity possible. Student-centered learning advances equity when it values social and emotional growth alongside academic achievement, takes a cultural lens on strengths and competencies, and equips students with the power and skills to address injustice in their schools and communities.

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What does it mean to be an ally for social justice, on the job? How might a member of the NGLC team act as an ally to the students and communities we serve?

If I had to describe my professional calling, it would be social justice in education. I care about social justice in all things, but I chose education as my path to contribute professionally to a more socially just world. I work from a position of privilege—White, upper class, cisgendered, straight, able bodied, and more. I have scars and some wounds that haven’t yet healed from being female in a male-dominant world but most of my life experience is a privileged one.

I know that in my privilege I have inflicted harm on others, whether directly out of ignorance or indirectly as a silent bystander. But I have also sought out opportunities to learn and I’m working to earn the label of ally. I know ally should be a verb, not a noun. An action not a label. Some days and in some ways, I practice ally-ship. But I also let opportunities slip by and I know what I do is not nearly enough.

It was only recently that I started to understand how my self-proclaimed “professional calling” actually required me to think and act like an ally. Not just someone who wants to do good, as if I had no positionality in the work. But someone who is an ally for the students and communities served by NGLC.

I’m not sure if there was one pivotal moment that led me to make this connection, but an experience last winter pushed me to think differently. To explore what it means for me to be an ally on the job. I participated in a workshop on digital storytelling for equity, led by Jen Nowicki Clark & Josh Schachter of Creative Narrations. The group of storytellers pushed me to look at my story with a lens that was different from the one I always used to tell the story. When I did, I was forced to see myself, and my privilege, and my work in education, differently.

This is the video I produced during the workshop. It’s about helping my father get around in the wheelchair he used for the last 15 years of his life. It’s about what I learned while trying to navigate the world with a wheelchair. And it’s about what I learned when I was asked many years later to sit in a wheelchair myself.

It’s just one story, and there are other stories I could tell about my imperfect journey. But, striving to be an ally—that’s why I work at NGLC. That’s why I believe in our mission. That’s why I believe diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice is the heart of our work. That’s why I believe educators, students, and their communities must lead the way. That’s why I’m following their lead by listening, learning, and looking up.

Kristen Vogt (she/her/hers)

Knowledge Officer, NGLC

Kristen Vogt, knowledge management officer for NGLC, focuses on identifying lessons, strategies and outcomes from the NGLC community and making them available to a wider audience.