I’ve been teaching for 23 years, the last seven as a substitute teacher in the same school district. I’ve seen some patterns that trouble me - predominantly Black students being disciplined and singled out as “trouble” and students pointing out teachers who treat students of color poorly. The post-election climate did not help either, especially for children from immigrant families.
I could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch kids feel this way, so I joined my school district’s Equity Advisory Council (EAC). My aim was to bring implicit bias training to the district and mitigate even the unintentional damage done to our youth by some adults in power. Luckily, a parent from our district worked at the Western Justice Center (WJC) and offered us the opportunity to attend a free teacher workshop entitled Creating Bias Free Classrooms, which gives educators a learning laboratory to test strategies that help address and prevent bias in their classrooms and on their school campuses.
What I saw during that workshop blew my mind. The program was super interactive. It kept me excited and engaged. The student performers captured our hearts and minds all while opening our eyes to how it impacts kids when we dictate the tone and culture of our classrooms. I quickly signed up for more WJC training, which focused on countering homophobic bullying. I was equally blown away and moved to tears by stories the students told. I couldn't get enough so I signed up for a third training - WJC’s ABC’s of Conflict summer session - and my interest in Restorative Practices and Peer Mediation was rejuvenated.
I’m proud to say that I have been able to bring these incredible resources back to my school district. So far, WJC has trained 50 administrators and educators in our district. Together, we’ve tackled how to stop homophobic bullying and we’re going to take a deep dive on addressing race and gender bias next. All the feedback we received has been positive and we’re clamoring for more!
I wish all our teachers could experience the self evaluative and interactive process offered by WJC. Given the current climate we need to get ahead of the pack and be proactive so teachers can facilitate an equitable and safe learning environment for all children from all backgrounds. WJC provides a service that is unique and valuable. If it were up to me, all the teachers in my district would have a chance to participate in its programs.
I hope you’ll join me by investing in a future where more teachers, students, and parents feel the impact of WJC’s work. Join me in contributing a gift in any amount, and bring these invaluable programs to schools and districts throughout Southern California.