Four teachers are making a conscious effort to practice culturally responsible teaching to close the achievement gap. The mindful teaching practices consider the diversity of students’ backgrounds and their individual experiences.
Stony Point Elementary teacher Mariel Mendez is one of the four who earned certification in culturally responsive teaching. She sees the certification as a means to improve her abilities as a teacher.
“I consider myself a lifelong learner and always trying to make myself a better teacher, and so one of the newest ways that I’ve discovered was culturally responsive teaching,” she said.
The other teachers from Albemarle County Public Schools who received the certifications at the county 2016 Diversity Conference include Rebecca Brown from Hollymead Elementary, Sherica Jones-Lewis from Burley Middle, and Leslie Wills-Taylor from Woodbrook Elementary.They are part of the first class of culturally responsive teachers.
There are over 90 different languages spoken by Albemarle County families. The Culturally Responsive Teaching program is an effort started in 2009 to connect instruction with student backgrounds and experiences. “The certification process is a validation of a transformation from a traditional way of establishing relationships with students to more of a contemporary approach of valuing who you are as a teacher and how that transfers through communicating with the students that are sitting in front of you,” said Bernard Hairston, director of the county schools office of community engagement.