The Schools Committee introduced its first Cultural Competency Workshop for the community at large in 2013 and then in 2014 held 2 sessions, one specifically designed for teachers and the other for community members interested in developing their cultural awareness. Two SOMSD teachers were awarded scholarships to pursue further training at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In the following school year, the district engaged Dr. Joshi from FDU to work more deeply with teachers and administrators on cultural competency.
Dr. Joshi’s areas of expertise include immigrant and second-generation Americans in K-12 Education, Religion in Schools, Multicultural Education, and Race in America. She is the author and co-editor of many publications including: New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Indian America (Rutgers University Press, 2006), which received the National Association for Multicultural Education’s 2007 Philip C. Chinn Book Award;Americans In Dixie: Race and Migration in the South (University of Illinois Press, 2013); Understanding Religious Oppression and Christian Privilege (Sense Publishers, 2008).
In 2015, over 50 teachers and parents listened to Dr. Joshi’s talk about anti-bias and social justice strategies in education and parenting. She emphasized that this approach is an on-going process, takes commitment to learning about one’s biases, and should infuse all modes of pedagogy. She also noted that this approach is a benefit for all children and that it is incumbent on parents and teachers to support children in learning how to have conversations about race, to notice difference, and to speak up for justice.
Parents and teachers sat at small discussion tables in order to talk about what they needed to improve their multicultural, anti-bias efforts. The tables then shared with the whole room. Some of the common themes were:
- A need for more classroom resources like books that have characters of different races and ethnicities that have roles beyond social justice representatives
- Mandatory, on-going training for all teachers in the district in anti-bias education
- Tools for teaching and parenting like case studies and vocabulary
Click here for resources for teachers and individuals interested in cultural competency. Have a suggested article, book, or other resource? Send it to us through our Contact Form!
Dr. Joshi recommended a few sites for further information: