UofL/JCPS partnership on diversity training for teachers
School teachers who connect with their students can better engage them in learning. But when teachers and students come from different cultural and language backgrounds, it can make connecting more difficult. That’s why the University of Louisville and Jefferson County Public Schools have developed a new partnership to better equip JCPS educators to teach in an increasingly diverse school district.
Starting this fall, seven teachers will enroll in the JCPS Teacher CARDS program at UofL. (CARDS stands for Competency, Awareness, and Responsiveness to Diverse Students.) The program provides the teachers with a tuition scholarship toward a graduate certificate in diversity literacy and master’s degree in teacher leadership at UofL. A grant from the Gheens Foundation funds it.
Under the program, participants will complete a 33-hour master’s degree in teacher leadership from the College of Education and Human Development that includes 18 hours in the College of Arts and Sciences for a graduate certificate in diversity literacy. The A&S coursework explores topics such as world religions, Latino and African-American culture, history, philosophy and social sciences.
"Given the changing kaleidoscopic world in which we live, whether the sector is private or public, diversity literacy matters more and more," said A&S Interim Dean John Ferré. "The Department of Philosophy is an ideal home for this certificate because the two anchoring courses deal not just with empiricism (the recognition of pluralism), but also with political philosophy (inclusion in the public sphere) and ethics (respect for difference)," said Ferré.
"The Certificate in Diversity Literacy grew out of Dean Hudson's belief that A&S has substantial curricular resources to offer for the training of culturally competent teachers," said Professor David Owen, Director of A&S Diversity Programs, who led the effort to create the certificate program.
"Diversity literacy is about learning how social and cultural differences impact people's lives every day, and many of the courses offered in A&S contribute to increasing diversity literacy of our students. The Certificate's home within the Philosophy Department highlights the interdisciplinary nature of diversity literacy and of social philosophy itself," Owen said.
“When I first started teaching, I learned quickly that the very best teachers are those who connect with students,” said Blake Haselton, CEHD interim dean, at the Aug. 9 announcement.
“That’s why the JCPS Teacher CARDS program is so powerful. A teacher who graduates with both the master’s degree in education and the diversity leadership certificate is going to be well prepared to connect with students from all backgrounds and cultures,” he said.
The teachers in the first class were selected through a competitive application process. All of them teach in a low-performing school and have committed to teach at a similar JCPS school for three years after they complete the program.
The program is a perfect example of the “power of partnership” between the university, JCPS and a donor, said UofL President James Ramsey. “UofL is proud of our collaborations with JCPS and we’re excited that we can help these great teachers learn even better ways to educate the next generation of Louisvillians, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.”
Besides being coupled with the MEd in teacher leadership, the diversity literacy certificate also is a freestanding program through A&S and is appropriate for students from a variety of disciplines, as well as working professionals.