CECI conference guides students on diversity, equity & inclusion principles
A conference presented by the College of Education and Community Innovation helped students understand and prepare for the complexities of diversity, inclusion and equity in the classrooms they’ll be leading in the near future.
The conference, entitled “Teaching for Equity: Inclusion, Accessibility and Belonging,” presented panel discussions and breakout sessions on October 3 at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. CECI’s Literacy, Educational Foundations and Technology Department and the Teaching and Learning Department sponsored the day of discussions.
The daylong event began with keynote speaker Brandy Lovelady Mitchell, the deputy superintendent of preschool-12 learning & leadership for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Mitchell also served as the founding director of the Kent Intermediate School District's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and director of DEI for the Michigan Education Association.
“I don’t think this is the first time you’ve heard about equity because, as an alumnus of Grand Valley, I know it is something threaded throughout your coursework,” Mitchell said.
During her presentation, Mitchell engaged and challenged students to understand the demographic and socioeconomic dynamics they will be facing when they lead a classroom.
“It’s important that you do your work to understand that while the workforce looks this way, our P-12 scholars look very different,” Mitchell said. “Representation is about eliminating the barriers for people of color to come in, but it also means showing up in a culturally responsive and sustaining way. Our scholars need you.”
Mitchell also encouraged the audience of students to not shy away from the responsibilities they’ll experience, but embrace them and realize they have plenty to offer in their future classrooms.
Mitchell said she remembered her time as a student and feeling overwhelmed, but over time she came to understand that it’s a privilege to be an educator.
“Don’t get distracted by the noise,” Mitchell said. “Know that you can have a ripple effect on the system. Your knowledge and your leaning toward justice is needed now more than ever. Remember you are there for a reason, and you answered the call for a reason.”