Participant: Abby Rogers, Travis Junior High School
Abby Rogers (right) in conversation with advisor Dr. Fahamisha Butler.
"I have come to realize that diversity education is an essential element of basic understanding for both teaching and learning," says Abby Rogers of Travis Junior High in Paris, Texas. "You not only have to recognize and acknowledge that not all students are the same, but you have to use those differences in a positive way to help them learn."
Abby Rogers came to the National Diversity Education Program as a relatively new educator eager to understand the relationship between diversity and democracy and to learn how to develop curriculum that reflected the "we" in "We the people." Abby was mentored by Program Advisor Dr. Fahamisha Butler, and through an Action Research Guide, began to understand the complexities in developing an 8th grade history curriculum from the point of view of the under-represented voices in history.
"As a young teacher in a highly diverse school district, I had been afraid to mention, much less highlight and discuss, issues of diversity," said Rogers. "Through my involvement with the National Diversity Education Program I have developed more confidence as a teacher treading into this sensitive area. I now have the courage and the tools to start creating lesson plans that help my students internalize the overall concept of "we the people" and understand that by learning about American history they are developing as citizens and future participants in the democratic system of our nation."
"I think about diversity education in two parts," Abby added.
1. Teaching students about different cultural backgrounds, points of view, attitudes and traditions
2. Teaching students that have different cultural backgrounds, points of view, attitudes and traditions
"Differences are a wonderful common ground for students to stand on and a way for them to experience other ideas, backgrounds, and traditions in a positive way. These lessons help the student connect with history and each other through their differences. It puts historical concepts and events into a real-world context, and gives students a real and useable purpose for what they are learning."