Valley Stream 30 is just over the Nassau County line from Queens, New York, and has attracted a diverse population of African Americans, Hispanics, and relatively new immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is in many ways a classic “white flight” district. Twenty years ago, 40 percent of the elementary school district was white. Today, only 5 percent.

Superintendent Nicholas Stirling says that the fact that the district “celebrates” its diversity and sees it as a strength has allowed it to build the systems that support excellence and continual improvement. One of the things its diversity forces educators to think about is the wide diversity of background knowledge students bring to lessons.

So, for example, when teachers taught about Jackie Robinson, they realized that some of their students didn’t know anything about baseball. Podcast creator Karin Chenoweth brings you the voice of principals talking about how they responded, as well as the superintendent, teachers, principals, parents, and others reflecting on why Valley Stream 30 was identified by Sean Reardon as the district where African American students perform above the national average for all students.

Listeners will hear how, in addition to their careful attention to instruction, Valley Stream 30 educators have built system after system to support the learning of the adults in the system.