Make the Message Matter: Engaging Diverse School Communities

Posted: July 12, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Edgerly

The Office of Education Services in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development will host its annual summer institute, Make the Message Matter, July 24-25.

With the theme “Engaging Diverse School Communities,” this year’s institute is planned in collaboration with Alexandria City, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William County Schools. Specific topics to be covered are

  • Demographic changes in school divisions

  • Communication with diverse communities

  • Leadership capacity to respond and be proactive

  • How to build trust within the school community

Keynote speakers are Gloria Ladson-Billings and Pedro Noguera. Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and faculty affiliate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the immediate past president of the American Educational Research Association.

Noguera is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University and executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. An urban sociologist, he has served in an advisory role and engaged in collaborative research with several large urban school districts throughout the United States.

Several Mason professors will also present at the institute. In a session titled “Cultural Identity and Cultural Competence in a Pluralistic Context: Pursuing Equity and Social Justice for the Common Good,” Associate Professor of Multicultural Education Elavie Ndura will explore the nature of cultural identity and cultural competence. She will also discuss how these shape educational and personal experiences within the pluralistic context of U.S. schools and society.

Adjunct instructor Johnnie C. Hicks will lead a session on “Working Effectively with Middle Eastern Families.” The workshop will provide essential background information about ethnic, religious and cultural identities of Arabs, Persians, Kurds and Afghans as well as a basic overview of Islam as the dominant religion. Topics will include family values and belief systems, religious and social customs, verbal and nonverbal communication and other factors likely to be encountered in school settings.

Jorge Osterling, associate professor of education, will discuss “Immigration and Education: The Impact of Immigration and Education Legislation on Our Public Schools.” This workshop will focus on a study that traces the contemporary history of U.S. immigration and education legislation and will review court cases affecting bilingual students.

In addition to these speakers, discussion groups and a panel presentation featuring public school superintendents from the Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William school systems will round out the program.

For more information on the Make the Message Matter summer institute, see the web site.

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