Heather Moraff

Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School
Ellicott City, Maryland

Best Practices

1) Equity & Cultural Responsiveness: As a leader, one of my areas of consistent reflection and growth is in the area of equity and cultural responsiveness. This work begins with knowing yourself, your biases, and your areas of need. At Triadelphia Ridge, I have been a driving force in ensuring that our staff grow in this area in order to ensure a sense of belonging for all students, staff, and community members. For example, I have met with Howard County Public School (HCPSS) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) leaders in order to plan and implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons to students, following an incident of hate. I have planned professional development for staff around how to respond to microaggressions in the moment. Each time a hate incident occurs at our school, I work with parents of students who experienced or contributed to that hate incident to plan and execute an educative response that promotes cultural responsiveness and makes sense developmentally for our students.

As a leader of a school building, I am constantly thinking through the lens of a tool developed by HCPSS, our Equity Framework. This Equity Framework is based on the elements of Belonging, Opportunity & Access, Instructional Excellence, and Engaged and Inspired Learners. As I collaborated with our School Improvement Team this year to develop a School Improvement plan, we identified areas of need for each element. These have become a personal and professional focus for me this school year.

Outside of the school building, I am a proud member of the Asian American Educators of Howard County and currently serve as a chair to the Leadership Growth Committee, aiming to support and promote leadership growth opportunities among Asian educators and colleagues in the HCPSS community. In order to work on my own growth as an Asian educator, I also participate in the “Let’s Talk Virtual Conference-Anti-Asian Racism & Racial Trauma in Historical Context: Understanding History, Building Collective Resistance.” This conference helped me to recognize that I am not an expert in my own race and culture and that I have much history to learn that can impact the way that I move forward, heal, and interact with others.

2) Meaningful Engagement of Families & Community: At Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, one of the ways I have developed meaningful relationships with the parents of my school community is to develop a New Family Welcome Committee in order to gather input and feedback on how to create a sense of belonging for our new students and their families. Through this feedback, I have connected new families to existing families in order to form a family mentorship.

Another way in which I connect with parents is through my day to day interactions, communication, and problem solving. This is crucial to building trust and rapport. Parents feel comfortable reaching out to me with concerns individually and I am able to connect and commit time to meeting with them. If there are student concerns or issues that arise, I make sure to partner with parents in order to work together to come up with a solution or action steps moving forward in the best interest of the student. I have received positive feedback from parents for my responsiveness to their communicated needs.

As an admin chair of the Student Support Team, I have made many meaningful relationships with the available community supports and resources for our students. For example, I often connect with the A-OK mentorship program to bring a community volunteer into the building to work with a student. I reach out to the therapist at Center for Children in order to receive updates on a student or family support. I have partnered with members of Grace Community Church in order to acquire financial support for families in need around the holidays. In order to promote positive relationships with the police officers who serve our community, I have developed relationships with two officers who regularly support our campus. I planned and coordinated visits for them to have lunch with and play at recess with students. The officers got to know our students and built trust among our staff and students. This was such a benefit when officers were needed to respond to students in crisis.

While at Swansfield Elementary School, I was an Intervention Teacher and administrator. While there, I was in charge of organizing community events that brought families into the school building to build their capacity to help support their child academically at home. I communicated and developed relationships with various local businesses and organizations to gather donations for our Title I programming and evening events, including Safeway, Uno’s Whole Foods, etc. In addition, I partnered with a Columbia Association coordinator, in order to run a Points Program so that students who did not have access to pools in the summer, could earn pool access through academic achievement and attendance at school. I served as a teacher and building administrator for our school’s Bridges Program afterschool. In the larger context, I have served as an administrator representative for the PDS (Professional Development Schools) committee, building partnerships with universities, such as Towson University and University of Maryland, College Park.