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Multicultural Symposium shares effective strategies with educators

Many corners of the district came together on March 17, 2016, for the Tucson Unified Multicultural Symposium, which was hosted by the Student Services department. The event included a dinner, keynote speaker and workshops with the focus to give teachers tools to strengthen the cultural curriculum across the district.

"You're here because... we expect you to go back and embed [these best practice strategies] in your curriculum," Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Eugene Butler explained to the attendees as he kicked off the event.

The strategies Butler mentioned were articulated both in workshops and by Francesca López, an associate professor at the University Of Arizona College Of Ed and the keynote speaker at the symposium.

"We're supposed to be making our students feel valued and important and develop a sense of identity," proclaimed López, "and here, early on, these kids are already feeling a sense of 'I belong, and I don't feel discriminated.'"

Ms. López research on how to close the achievement gap with students was collected by observing practices in various Tucson Unified classrooms. She was extremely pleased with what she saw within district classrooms.

"The work I'm highlighting here shows just how amazing some of the schools in Tucson Unified really are," she exclaimed as she wrapped up her presentation,"There are things going on in schools here [at Tucson Unified] that should be replicated across the country."

Maria Federico Brummer, the program coordinator for the Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction office at Tucson Unified, was pleased with what she heard.

"It's an affirmation for all the work that we're doing with culturally relevant courses," Federico Brummer explained.

The CRPI office put on one of the workshops at the symposium, which was titled,"An Introduction to Culturally Responsive Instruction." The workshop's aim was to help teachers make the distinction between what is culturally relevant and what is culturally responsive, so that they can incorporate that in the classroom to create a better environment for everyone to learn and respect others.