A total of 63 educators, including three school principals, one assistant principal, and one superintendent, received either their certification or initial credentials as culturally responsive educators today during the division’s fifth annual Equity Conference.
One educator, Kimberly Ann Gibson, was named the division’s “Equity and Diversity Educator of the Year” for distinguishing herself as an advocate for teaching to and through the background and experiences of all students.
“Ms. Gibson distinguished herself as an exceptional leader in developing communities of leaders and learning by cultivating relationships and prioritizing the alignment of culture to relevance in classrooms,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bernard Hairston, who created the culturally responsive teaching (CRT) program. “Her one-student-at-a-time approach made rigor a non-issue. As an instructional coach, she brought that same individualized focus to her work with teachers,” he added.
Over the past five years, 63 teachers and administrators in the division have been certified as culturally responsive teachers, with another 77 completing the first step in the process by earning their micro-credential in the program.
Since its inception in 2015, the CRT program, the first of its kind in Virginia, has transformed how teachers hold themselves accountable for examining how culture can be an asset in creating stronger student and family partnerships and developing independent learners. Educators are able to identify cultural connections and use this awareness to advance their own professional growth and transfer that progress to their students.
“For much too long, educators have spent more time talking and writing about achievement gaps and less time figuring out how to hold themselves accountable for closing those gaps,” Hairston said.
“Closing these gaps among students of color and, in fact, among all students, is impossible unless we develop instructional practices that meet the individual learning needs of students. One size never was best for all. A student’s life experiences have a powerful influence on how they learn, and aligning teaching methods with those experiences will make teachers even more effective in the classroom,” Hairston emphasized.
Since the culturally responsive teaching program began, there have been substantial increases in the diversity of the division’s student enrollment. Five years ago, the number of birth countries represented by the student body was 60; today that number is 96. More than 5,000 of the division’s 14,000 students are minorities, including nearly 1,500 from homes where English is not the primary language.
Becoming certified as Culturally Responsive Teacher is a challenging year-long process in which educators document their learning across the program’s three characteristics while continuously and robustly integrating CRT into their instructional practice. They also must be able to demonstrate a positive impact on student achievement and learning.
Educators who earned a micro-credential had to demonstrate personal and student growth in at least one of the three program characteristics, which include examining their cultural identities and perspectives; engaging diverse learners; and building learning partnerships with students and families.
An example of the program’s impact is shown in the pass rates on the state’s fifth-grade reading test: White students experienced an 86 percent growth rate in the CRT classroom, compared to 76 percent in the non-CRT classroom; for Hispanic students, the growth rate was 42 percent in the CRT classroom and 14 percent in the non-CRT classroom. Among Black students, growth rates doubled in the CRT classroom, from 50 to 100 percent, and among special education students, the pass rate increased from zero to 50 percent.
Overall, the pass rates for students in all demographic groups were 67 percent in the CRT classroom and 62 in the non-CRT classroom. Similarly, growth in student academic achievement on the state’s reading test were 79 percent in the CRT classroom, compared to 68 percent in a non-CRT classroom.
Among the topics explored in today’s conference were Being Comfortable in the Uncomfortable: Creating an Environment of Academic Risk Takers; The Importance of Student Partnerships to Hold Difficult Conversations in a Middle School Classroom; and Speak Up and Speak Often: An Instructional Coach’s Journey Toward Anti-Racism.
Among those who earned their certification this year was the principal of the school division’s largest high school, Darah Bonham from Albemarle High School. Receiving their micro-credential were division Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas; two elementary school principals, Staci England from Scottsville and Seth Kennard from Baker-Butler; and one assistant principal, Christine Peterson from Baker-Butler.
To date, 63 educators in the division have been certified in culturally responsive teaching and 77 educators have received micro-credentials. This is the second year that micro-credentialing has been offered.
Those certified this year include:
Jasmine Azimi, Mountain View Elementary School
LaNika Barnes, Albemarle High School
Darah Bonham, Albemarle High School
Rachel Caldwell, Mountain View Elementary School
Chiaka Chuks, Mountain View Elementary School
Jaylen Crist, Crozet Elementary School
Hashim Davis, Center for Learning and Growth
Victoria Dickens, Mountain View Elementary School
Jane Engel, Jack Jouett Middle School
Jennifer Graham, Walton Middle School
Dr. Vicki Hobson, Division Instructional Coach
Addison Holmes, Woodbrook Elementary School
Meredith Holmes, Sutherland Middle School
Emily Holmstrom, Agnor-Hurt Elementary School
Atlanta Hutchins, Crozet Elementary School
Kristina Kilgallen, Western Albemarle High School
Rebecca Kindler, Walton Middle School
Katie McLaughlin, Greer Elementary School
Jennifer Middlesworth, Center for Learning and Growth
Hollins Mills, Murray Elementary School
Megan Washburn, Division Instructional Coach
Pictured: Kimberly Gibson
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer