On Thursday, April 20th, the Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars Program held a wonderful spring reception.
The reception began with introductions from the director of the Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars Program, Maria Dantas-Whitney, the Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Mark Girod, and the Assistant to the Dean, Dr. Marie LeJeune. In Dr. Girod’s powerful introduction, he said, “The teachers in this room are trying to change the world through excellence in education.” Other faculty and advisors gave short introduction speeches as well. These members included Kristen Pratt, Carmen Caceda, Julian Elizalde, and Jessica Dougherty.
After introductions, the Director of the WOU Child Development Center Tammy Gardner, discussed the opportunity to student teach in their dual language preschool classroom.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dominique Vargas, the Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Vargas discussed her background and how she ended up at WOU. She then asked students to think about the question, “How do you define diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility?” One student answered, “All of the terms make me think of equal opportunity.” Dr. Girod mentioned that these terms allow us to be our “true authentic selves.” Vargas then defined the terms in her own words. She explained,
“Diversity is embracing all aspects of everyone’s identity. Equity is meeting the needs of others. Inclusion is an ongoing process and accessibility is experiencing all aspects of an educational journey in similar ways.”
Furthermore, Vargas explained the different projects that the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is currently working on. Some of the projects include improving professional development opportunities for faculty and revising the school’s policies regarding Title IX. Vargas asked the students to reflect on professional development opportunities that WOU should implement for faculty.
The event ended with a speech from the BIPOC Advisory Board. Both Kristen Pratt and Madison Diggs explained how the Advisory Board supports students. The board meets monthly to discuss their personal experiences and ways they want to see change at WOU. The purpose of the board is to evaluate systems that are in place within the College of Education. After the evaluation, the board will then stop, add to, or build policies that better support students. The board has implemented multiple changes in the College of Education. Pratt and Diggs concluded their speech by answering a few questions from the audience.
For more information about the Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars Program, please go to: https://wou.edu/teachered/scholars/
Richard Woodcock Education Center
Phone: (503) 838-8471