posted January 30, 2006

Workshop on Culturally Responsive Education

 In an effort to increase the success of all students, the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District is co-sponsoring an all-day professional development workshop titled "Educational Excellence for All: Becoming a Culturally Responsive Educational Community."

The workshop will be held on Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District's Educational Services Building, located at 13565 Port Sheldon St. Registration will take place from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and the conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

Other co-sponsors are the Crossroads Project of Hope College, West Ottawa Public Schools and the National Diversity Education Program.

The workshop will feature Dr. Rossi Ray-Taylor, executive director of the Minority Student Achievement Network, a coalition of 24 suburban school districts committed to eliminating the gap in achievement among students. Ray-Taylor has been the featured speaker for a number of national audiences, including the Annenberg Conference on High School Achievement Gap at Brown University and the American Youth Policy Forum conference for policy makers on Capitol Hill. She has provided staff development and consulting services to several school districts.

Ray-Taylor's talk, "Closing the Gap in Minority Student Achievement," will be followed by a full day of activities designed to help educators and community members learn policies, programs and practices that help to ensure the success of all students. Adult and student multicultural panels will discuss the role of diversity in education. Professional educators, including Ray-Taylor and Dr. Lorna Hernandez Jarvis and John Yelding of the Hope College faculty, will share policies and practices that support minority achievement. Hope students Xing Wen Wu, Garran Johnson and Gerardo Ruffino will serve on a panel to share their personal experiences going through the educational system and to offer advice on how educators can become more culturally-responsive and help inspire minority students to consider and apply for college.

A special focus of the afternoon will be classroom and school activities that promote the success of a diverse population. Beth Washington, a former West Ottawa social studies teacher who in June 2005 was named "Secondary Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Council for History Education, will share activities that teach the importance of diversity in American democracy and will also facilitate a session that focuses on literature and writing strategies that include diversity in a meaningful way. David Douglas, the lead diversity trainer for West Ottawa Public Schools, will explore classroom activities that promote cross-cultural understanding at the middle school level. There will also be a session on "Fostering Excellence and Equity in the Classroom."

The all-day program is one of a series of educational workshops initiated by Dr. Jeanine Dell'Olio, Kim Douglas and David Douglas, who were selected as grant recipients by the National Diversity Education Program (NDEP). NDEP was founded by the Japanese American National Museum, with funding by the Toyota Corporation for the purpose of educating the public about the value of diversity to American Democracy. Dell'Olio specializes in urban education at Hope College, and Kim Douglas teaches writing and "Encounter with Cultures" at Hope. Two representatives from the National Diversity Education Program, Adrienne Lee and Melvin Musick, will be flying from Los Angeles to observe the program. Lee is the program manager for the National Center for the Preservation for Democracy and Musick is the program evaluator for NDEP.

The workshop is open to all members of the educational community: parents, teachers, counselors, educational support staff and anyone interested in the success of all students. Registration is $25 ($10 for middle school staff members). Those interested in attending may register by calling 1-877-702-8600 or visiting the Web site www.oaisd.org.