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The Burlington County Board of Commissioners congratulated the students, faculty and administration of the Burlington County Institute of Technology and the Burlington City School District following their designations as New Jersey Lighthouse Schools.
The New Jersey Department of Education recognizes school districts and charters schools that have made advancements and demonstratable progress in advancing equity within their school communities and for working with diverse groups of learners. The award reflects the district’s record of equity in academic offerings, teaching workforce and school climate.
BCIT and Burlington City were among the seven districts from the more than 600 school districts and charter schools across the state to receive the recognition, which is awarded by the Department every two years.
As a Lighthouse School, BCIT and Burlington City officials and staff will have the opportunity to participate in professional learning and networking between Lighthouse districts and charter schools and to lead professional learning events and share Best Practices for educators throughout the state.
In recognition of the achievement, the Commissioners presented BCIT school district officials with a proclamation Wednesday congratulating the district and highlighting its many outstanding programs and advances.
The Board will invite Burlington City to accept a proclamation recognizing the district’s achievement later this fall.
“Burlington County is home to wonderful institutions and schools like BCIT and Burlington City, which are at the top of the list of things that make our county great,” said Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “Burlington County children -- regardless of where they live or what their background is -- should have the same opportunity to learn, grow and pursue a path to a successful career. This award recognizes BCIT and Burlington City as leaders in this respect, and I’m incredibly proud that our county is home to two school districts that are blazing the path to improve equity in education.”
BCIT’s Lighthouse School award was specific to the district’s success in increasing equity in its course enrollment. The grade 9-12 county vocational district is home to about 2,240 students. About 14% have disabilities and more than 42% come from economically disadvantaged homes.
Among the actions the Department of Education cited and wish to highlight was the district’s move to create a position in the central office dedicated to promoting greater diversity, equity and inclusion and to use outreach to students, parents and staff to provide input on structural changes and supports to promote the district’s equity goals.
The district also created a student group known as “Student Equity Champions” to participate in district decision-making, including the crafting of a policies related to diversity and inclusion issues and the creation of more inclusive clubs and classes, among them a Girls that Build club.
Parents were also invited to participate in an Equity Action Council and Equity Champions group. Their activities included the creation of a new book club for the school community to read and discuss works related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Promoting greater equality in our education systems requires the participation and buy in of parents, students and staff, and BCIT has succeeded in engaging with these stakeholders on diversity and equality issues as evident by the positive outcomes from those partnerships,” said Commissioner Linda Hynes, the Board’s liaison to BCIT, Burlington County Special Services School District and Rowan College at Burlington County. “We are extraordinarily lucky to have such an outstanding educational facility and we look forward to hearing how our vocational district’s successes can be duplicated and expanded across the state.”
Burlington County Commissioner Linda Hynes presents a proclamation congratulating the Burlington County Institute of Technology on its designation as a New Jersey Lighthouse School to Leon Jones, the president of the combined BCIT/Special Services School Board, Dr. Ashanti Holley, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Diversity and Equality and Dr. Christopher Nagy, the superintendent of both BCIT and the Burlington County Special Services School District.