Teachers honored as diversity advocates
Four English Language Arts teachers in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District were honored at the state level for their work in promoting the importance of diversity among district educators.
Lorna Askew, Angela Coleman-Kirkland, Mikia Searcy and Sherice Thomas are recipients of the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA) Diversity Award. They were selected as a result of their participation in the OCTELA Teacher Diversity Recruitment Program, and were among nominees from across the state.
“I think that it is important for students of color to experience school life with teachers who have a similar race or ethnicity because it is more likely that they will infuse multicultural perspectives and relate how the curriculum was influenced by diverse peoples," said Askew, an intervention specialist at Heights Middle School. "Students of color need to see role models, and they need to know that people who looked like them influenced the subject matter that they are learning."
The Teacher Diversity Recruitment Program was created to increase the number of teachers of color within OCTELA's membership and in attendance at its annual conference. One of the perks of winning the award is complimentary registration to the OCTELA conference that will be held in Columbus in March. In addition to the conference registration, each teacher received a one-year OCTELA membership and a small professional development stipend to be used to purchase resources to enhance their instruction.
"I am not only proud of their award, but proud to work alongside these phenomenal women each day," said Yolanda Harris, Title I instructional coach at Heights Middle School and OCTELA diversity liaison for the district. "They represent, to me, the best of what CH-UH has to offer the field of education in the state of Ohio, especially as I watch the marvelous ways by which they show care and concern for our student."
OCTELA is one of the oldest and most prestigious professional development organizations for literacy teachers in the state. It has been providing its national network of teachers with instructional and professional development resources and opportunities for more than six decades.
Cathan Cavanaugh is the communications administrative assistant for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.