(E)liminating (D)isparities in (I)nclusivity

Dr. LeViis Haney’s takes on role at Stevenson, brings topics of equity, diversity and inclusion to forefront of discussion


It’s 9:31 a.m. and most of the Stevenson students and teachers are just starting their second period class of the day. Instead of the usual bustle in the typical Stevenson hallways, students simply log off of one Zoom meeting and hop onto another. By this point in the morning, Dr. LeViis Haney has already had more than two meetings, hopping from administration calls to meetings with students who are excited to get the opportunity to talk to him.  

Amidst Stevenson’s transition to online learning in the spring and the spark of the social justice movement that transpired throughout the nation over the summer, Dr. Haney’s, Stevenson’s new Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), hiring has brought attention to such events. 

One of Haney’s strongest passions is equity. Haney hopes that he can help bridge the gap of student success with unequal opportunities available to students. 

“There are so many reasons why I am so passionate about equity,” Haney said. “It’s an internal sense of fairness that I have naturally, I guess. I am just a believer that everyone should have a shot, and that everyone should have what they need to be successful. And I know that everyone doesn’t get what they need.”

With nearly 20 years in education and leadership, Haney’s mission is to make equity a reality in many communities, especially in schools.

In coming to Stevenson, Haney is optimistic about the work he can perform in order to create an academic environment that will look different than in years past. By providing more focus on the cultural inclusion of students and their identities, Haney wants to follow through on a promise to bring change to SHS students. 

Mark Onuscheck, the Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction at Stevenson, was one of a few staff members who was on the hiring committee which selected Haney. Since Haney has joined the SHS staff, Onuscheck has also worked closely with him.

“He is so passionate about the work and he is so focused on reaching and supporting all students,” Onuscheck said. 

The overarching goal of Haney’s  position is to support the curricular departments as well as the disciplinary departments with special focus on their roles with inclusion and equal representation. While the deans oversee behavioral concerns, Haney makes sure that the disciplined students aren’t judged unfairly because of their race. 

In terms of the curriculum, Haney’s working on  creating “delivery models” and curriculum materials that best reflect the culturally rich student body. By informing each department about issues relating to race and representation within the curricula, he is helping to produce a new curriculum that is representative and respectful of all cultures and races. 

Haney is now in charge of Equity, Race and Diversity (ERD) training within Stevenson, and leads all four ERD cohorts. Thus, he facilitates conversations on equity with teachers and directors in hopes of creating a learning community for all. His goal is to encourage staff to implement such conversations in their daily classroom practices. 

“Our faculty and staff here are learning a lot about barriers that prevent students from having an experience that is even with others or equitable,” Haney said. “Some of those barriers include a lack of understanding about white privilege and lack of understanding of perspectives when it comes to the viewpoint from which history is taught.” 

All staff members are going through training which helps them better understand how the student population experiences day-to-day interactions. As conversations regarding race, equity and diversity have long existed in the SHS community, Haney is bringing more focus to this conversation along with tangible change that can begin to be underway. 

“I am hoping to incorporate a focus on cultural competency and cultural proficiency,” Haney said. “It is important that we understand the values and behaviors of students of other cultures in order to best serve them.”  

By bringing focus to such topics, Haney is optimistic that his work can inspire teachers to become more empathetic and better their cross-cultural communication among the diverse SHS student community. 

Haney said he has learned his most important lessons from the student groups that surround and support Stevenson. Clubs such as Fostering Intercultural Respect and Empowerment (FIRE), Diversity Council and even the new creation of an initiative called “SHS Clubs For Change” have helped Haney in implementing  changes to the community. In fact, Haney said his favorite part of his job is working with students to solve problems in the community. 

“More than just looking at the adults in the building and listening to how change is occurring in the classroom, Dr. Haney is focused on talking to students about their personal experiences in a candid way,” Emily Seburn ‘21, a FIRE Executive Board member, said.

Haney’s commitment to students has also been noticed by Stevenson staff members. Onuscheck has noted that his continuous commitment to working with all in the SHS community has been very helpful.

“He continues to bring conversations back to connecting with students,” Onusheck said. “He has a track record of success in working with faculty and staff.” 

As Seburn and Onuscheck have worked with Haney over the past few months, they note that change is already underway. Haney’s approachable and forward-facing presence has given hope to other SHS committees who are working more closely with student organizations. Recently, faculty have become more present in meetings with student groups across SHS. 

“There have been more administrative members coming in and out of our meetings, so we have been able to have access to talk directly to them as well as collaborate with more groups than before,” Seburn said.

Onuscheck feels that Haney has been a critical resource in supporting Stevenson students by creating a positive culture in which students are encouraged to maintain school pride.

Along with spirit, Haney wants to continue to focus on what he believes is the most important aspect for the SHS community: students’ involvement and a sense of belonging. 

“Belonging is very, very critical to student success,” Haney said, “When you feel that you belong, you feel like you are an important part of something.”