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Oct. 12, 2010—Public school administrators learned how to enact strategies to better serve children from diverse populations during a workshop presented at North Central College.
The daylong workshop on cultural diversity Oct. 8 brought together officials from school districts serving Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and other communities to discuss cultural diversity in elementary, middle and high schools. Goals included increasing awareness about diversity and equality issues, and identifying ways for administrators and teachers to help children from diverse backgrounds.
“There is a lot of inequality in our public school systems,” said workshop co-presenter Kristine Servais, an associate professor of education at North Central College. “There are social issues of hunger, poverty and homelessness. We can tap into the expertise of the people in this room to increase collaboration, enhance knowledge about diversity and equality and move from knowing to doing.”
Educators should know how to act and what steps to take when confronted with diversity issues involving children, participants said.
“We value the diversity in our schools. Sometimes we’re so focused on achievement we forget about the kids,” said Kathleen Kosteck, principal of Naperville’s Scullen Middle School in Indian Prairie School District 204.
Others said they hoped to implement ideas from the workshop for addressing situations involving diversity or equality issues of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other areas.
“I’ve worked in school districts that are very diverse, and I’ve worked in school districts where diversity is just beginning to occur,” said workshop presenter Kellie Sanders, principal of Walkers Grove Elementary School in Plainfield. “In places where diversity is just beginning to occur, a lot of people can feel that they are not part of the community and their voices are not heard. Principals need to know how to talk about those issues with their teachers and staffs.”
North Central College frequently sponsors workshops for educators, though this was the first devoted exclusively to the topics of diversity and equality in schools.
North Central College is committed to preparing teachers and school leaders to serve in high-need schools. Teacher and leadership candidates conduct field projects and curriculum projects that increase cultural proficiency and awareness to better address achievement gaps often found in high-need schools.
North Central College is a leader in education, offering undergraduate degrees in elementary education, secondary education, reading and English language learning, as well as art education, music education, health education and physical education. The College offers a master of arts degree in education, with emphasis in curriculum and instruction or educational leadership and administration.
North Central’s rigorous education program exceeds state standards by requiring 150 hours of classroom field study at all levels while the state requires just 100 hours. North Central’s department of education is fully accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education, which uses National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards to assess the programs offered at North Central College.
Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.