DATE: June 1, 2018
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Program to Close Opportunity Gaps Among Students, First of Its Kind in Virginia, Adds Nine Albemarle County Educators to Its Certification Ranks This Weekend
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Nine public school teachers and administrators in Albemarle County will earn their certifications this weekend in culturally responsive teaching, bringing to 17 the number of educators who have been recognized for the impact they are having in the division’s increasingly diverse classrooms.
The certification program is the first of its kind in Virginia and an important resource in fulfilling the school division’s mission of preparing all students for lifetime success as learners, workers and citizens. Currently, students in county schools come from 89 different birth countries, and 74 different languages are spoken in their homes. These numbers continue to show strong growth. Three years ago, for example, the number of birth countries represented in the student body was 60.
Overall, the division includes 1,390 students who are English Learners and more than 3,000 students who are members of ethnic minorities.
“If we are to meet the mandate from our School Board that all means all when it comes to preparing students for lifetime success, we need to be able to connect with students from all manner of life experiences,” said Dr. Bernard Hairston, the school division’s executive director of community engagement and the author of the certification program.
The division’s third annual Diversity Conference is this weekend at Monticello High School. “Our themes are reaching, reflecting, responding,” Dr. Hairston said. “Our objective is to embed throughout our instructional practices, strategies and techniques for making learning meaningful and exciting for all students,” he added.
The primary focus of the culturally responsive teaching model in Albemarle County Public Schools is transforming how teachers think about a student’s ability to learn and the methods by which they learn. The idea is to use cultural awareness to tailor instruction to the individualized strengths and needs of each student.
Educators develop their own approach for how they will motivate historically marginalized students and improve their learning outcomes. To earn culturally responsive certification, educators must present evidence that their approach is producing measureable academic improvement among these students.
The keynote speaker for Saturday’s conference is Dr. Bryan K. Hotchkins, who is a Faculty Fellow for the Institute for Inclusive Excellence at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Dr. Hotchkins studies the relationship between identity development and organization climate. He is a prolific thought-leader on how to amplify the voices of marginalized people while valuing their life experiences.
His presentation and subsequent discussions with students and parents will center on how micro-aggression in a school environment influences the behavior and achievement of African-American male students.
During the conference’s workshops, the nine educators who are being certified will present and discuss their portfolios, which document their research, specific strategies and practices, and their student outcomes.
Four are teachers, including three from Cale Elementary School—Brad Handrich, Katy Schutz, and Kimberly Wilson—and Destinie Thomas from Meriwether Lewis Elementary School. One principal, DeeDee Jones from Cale, will earn her certification, as will three assistant principals, Ashby Johnson from Monticello High School; Ben Allen from Cale; and LaTishia Wilson from Greer. Wilson has been named as the new principal for Stony Point Elementary School on July 1. Also earning certification will be an instructional coach, C’Ta Delaurier.
These nine increase the total number of educators who have earned certification over the past three years to 17.
“As our superintendent said in her 2017 and 2018 budget messages, among the most important responsibilities we face as educators in communities across our nation, is the wide opportunity gap among students. Those gaps directly correlate to academic performance and to the chances for a student to succeed in college and careers,” Dr. Hairston said.
In addition to the nine educators who are being certified, 11 other educators in the division have completed the first step in the certification process and have earned micro-credentials in culturally responsive teaching. This phase centers around the personal growth of an educator in developing their own awareness and understanding of how cultural differences affect student learning.
Nine of the 11 educators who have earned micro-credentials in culturally responsive teaching are from Cale, including Anna McQuitty, Caitlin Hobgood, Chelsey Lundgren, Karen Garland, Marcela Carlock, Victoria Dickens, Amy Bugg-Temple, Regina Anderson, and Alexa Winsor. The remaining two are Adrienne Oliver from Sutherland Middle School and Patricia Demitry from Monticello High School.