K-State holds virtual conference on attracting and retaining diverse teachers

K-State football players end boycott after university addresses concerns about racism on campus.
K-State football players end boycott after university addresses concerns about racism on campus.(kwch)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 10:39 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A virtual conference will be held at Kansas State University College of Education and its Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy. The co-hosted virtual conference will be held from March 5-6 to address one of teaching’s most critical needs: attracting and retaining students of color to the profession. ”Beyond Envisioning Equity: Situating Teacher of Color Voices” is a two-day virtual event featuring national scholars, education practitioners and more.

The conference will include intersectionality; higher education recruitment, advising and retention; recruiting, inducting, and retaining teachers of color; preparing white educators for pedagogical action; and education policy.

The conference is designed for faculty and administrators, student affairs professionals, academic advisors, policymakers, K-12 administrators, teachers and school counselors, members of community organizations and educational foundations, and post-secondary students. The fee for undergrad and grad students is $29, and the early-bird general admission fee is $79 through Feb. 14. For more details visit bit.ly/Beyond-Envisioning.

Conference speakers will inform efforts to initiate and sustain change in schools and communities by engaging attendees in critical conversations and providing actionable recommendations for next steps.

Featured speakers include Travis Bristol, University of California, Berkeley, whose work in urban education explores the professional pathways and experiences of Black male teachers; Davis Dixon, Hampton University, and Ashley Griffin, Bowie State University, whose collaborative work explores why teachers of color leave and what schools, districts and states can do to disrupt teacher turnover; Belinda Flores, University of Texas, whose work emphasizes pathways for bilingual, Latina/o teachers and the development of culturally efficacious teachers and mentors; and Felicia Mensah, Teachers College, Columbia University, whose work highlights racial literacy in teacher preparation programs to prepare educators to address issues of racism.

The conference also will feature the debut of the K-State College of Education’s latest documentary, “Besitos,” which provides a look at how the BESITOS — or Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting to Obtain Success — recruitment and retention program model that ran from 1999 to 2013 provided a gateway to higher education for more than 200 students and graduated more than 100 teachers of color who now serve and lead in schools all over.

Through multiple conference panel presentations, BESITOS alumni across Kansas will continue to explore how the program and their own identities and experiences as K-16 teachers and administrators have informed their current advocacy efforts. Among panelists are the five educators featured in the documentary: Jorge Estrella, program director at Dodge City Community College, and Maria Ortiz-Smith, education consultant at Southwest Plains Regional Service Center, Dodge City; Betty Sanchez, primary teacher at Village Elementary School, Emporia ; Julia Morales, instructional coach at Florence Wilson Elementary School, Garden City ; and Margarita Alcantara, a math teacher at Olathe North High School.

”Our college has been a leader in both advocacy and action in relation to attracting underrepresented population to the teaching profession,” said Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education. “Our ‘Besitos’ documentary about its success and impact and this equity conference are the latest examples of our longstanding commitment to diversity in education so that students can be anything they want to be — and hopefully, it will inspire many of them to be teachers.”

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