Educators Gather for Equity Symposium
- October 21, 2022
More than 250 educators from around the county and beyond participated in the Power of Equity in Education Symposium on October 20, 2022, hosted by KCSOS and 21CSLA. The theme of this year’s day-long professional learning opportunity was “Choosing to See” and focused on the sharing of best practices to strengthen Kern County’s educational systems to more effectively prepare and respond to the needs of all students and create the conditions for them to thrive.
“Equity is about acknowledging that all students sitting in our classrooms have different lived experiences and they have different needs to reach their full potential,” said KCSOS deputy superintendent of Instructional Services Lisa Gilbert. “It’s about learning how to best support these students and doing so with a lot of love in our heart for them.”
The day kicked off with a spoken word poet, Valyn Lyric Turner, who wowed the audience with her energetic poem “Race in the Classroom: Seeing Color.” A keynote address followed by Tony Weaver Jr. who talked about his own experience as “weird kid” and how that impacted his educational journey as a boy and young man.
“Power comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s important that we find ways to look at things differently,” Weaver said. “There are a diverse group of ways that students approach their learning and as educators we have to be just as diverse in the ways we evaluate and recognize that learning.”
Breakout sessions on a variety of relevant and timely topics were held throughout the day including things like “Building a Culture of Belonging,” “Welcoming Immigrant and Refugee Students into our Schools,” “Resiliency: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners,” “Empowering Students through Culturally Responsive Teaching,” and so much more.
“This year’s conference was wonderful,” said Carlos Chavira, a Culinary Teacher from Taft Union High School. “Getting together to talk about equity and diversity as a variety of minds has been enlightening.”
The lunchtime program was highly entertaining as pop-culture artist David Garibaldi transformed empty canvases into masterful works of art featuring the likes of Elton John, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, and Harriet Tubman.
The afternoon keynote address “Forging a Path Towards Equity and Justice” was given by Lorenzo Tafolla. An outreach counselor at CSUB, Tafolla discussed how to develop an empowering mindset, create a college-going culture, and provide inclusive spaces for all students.
“The sessions I’ve attended have been such a positive and welcoming environment,” said Rosa Montes, another Equity Symposium attendee. “The presentations have been almost emotional and makes me feel like my efforts surrounding equity have been validated.”
It was also announced that a new Equity Champion Award Program has been launched. Awards will be bestowed upon three individuals at the 2023 symposium next fall. One school site representative, one educational leader, and one student advocate will be honored.
Congratulations to event coordinator Dr. Krista Herrera, KCSOS’s Instructional Service’s team, and the many other supporting departments that helped make the event a huge success.