Building Productive Relationships with Policy Makers (Advocacy 201)

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Public Policy—Supporting Equity and Education
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Session II: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM


So, you’ve met with and had a great conversation with your elected and/or appointed policy makers. Now what? How do you safely and effectively navigate the boundaries of the relationship process, building upon the opportunity to keep your representatives and their staff informed about the issues that matter to you while complying with the policies of your education agency? This session will help participants establish and develop constructive lines of communication with policy makers and their staff while both complying with state and local education agency advocacy policies and exercising your rights to participate in the democratic process as a citizen.

Education, Not Incarceration: Using Higher Education to Challenge Mass Incarceration

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Strategies for Equitable Learning Environments
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Session II: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM


More than 2 million people are currently incarcerated in the United Sates. Minorities are disproportionately represented in higher education but represent greater than 60 percent of people in prison nationally. For previously incarcerated students (as is true for students of color), community colleges are the only avenue to higher education. Education is transformative and can lower recidivism while increasing sense of belonging, validation, and student engagement.


VASQUEZ_beto 2017Alberto “Beto” Vasquez

Outreach Coordinator
San Diego Continuing Education

Biography: Beto Vasquez is currently finalizing his studies at UCSD where he is pursuing a Masters degree in biology. He is committed to becoming a community college professor of biology and ultimately an administrator of higher education. As a formerly incarcerated student, he is all too familiar with the multifaceted challenges faced not only by this demographic, but underserved groups generally. He works for San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE). He is an advocate for education, STEM and restorative justice.


(1) Previous experience coordinating, facilitating, and leading a series of professional development workshops in the greater San Diego County area to educate community college staff and faculty titled, “Education, not Incarceration: Facilitating Success for Previously Incarcerated Students.”
Most recently, the presenter partnered with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and the Opportunity Institute to host one of three statewide sessions on Supporting Formerly Incarcerated Students.
The presenter currently serve as Chair for the Warden’s Community Advisory Board at RJ Donovan State Prison, President for the Nostros Alumni Association (a nonprofit committed to assisting men in recovery), Co-Founder of the Urban Scholars Union (an education-based support group for ex-incarcerated students), and a founding member of the Region X (Southern California) Consortium on Education for Previously Incarcerated Students.
(2) It is no surprise that although people of color are disproportionately represented in higher education, they represent greater than 60 percent of people in prison nationally (The Sentencing Project, 2016). There are more than 2 million people currently incarcerated in the United Sates. This population has grown exponentially at an alarming rate of greater than 500 percent over the past 40 years. In California, an exacerbated prison system (over 180 percent capacity) (CDCR, 2016) has led to the imposition of federal mandates on state government to decrease populations within the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR). This has led to legislature designed to alleviate prison overcrowding. As a result, thousands of inmates have been released in California over the past couple years. Of those released to San Diego County, realignment efforts have led to individuals serving time out of custody or serving local prison time in county jails. Although the state appears to making strides to decrease the inmate population, there is yet much work to do in helping to rehabilitate the formerly incarcerated.
Rehabilitation is the new reality; these individuals will be our neighbors upon their release regardless of one’s biases. The presenter’s personal story, along with many others, serves as testimony that education is transformative and can change lives. For previously incarcerated students (as is true for students of color), community colleges are the only avenue to higher education. With the ability to meet students wherever they are at, community colleges across the state are equipped to provide the opportunities and resources necessary to increase a sense of belonging, validation, and ultimately the engagement of previously incarcerated individuals. It is important to cultivate the necessary partnerships between community colleges and community organizations to develop programmatic solutions, lower recidivism, and increase enrollment, retention, and degree acquisition rates among this population.
(3) This workshop will consist of a brief presentation covering the climate of our current national stance (with a special emphasis on CA) on mass incarceration, the disparities it leads to, and the need for innovative approaches to restore lives. The presentation will be followed by a student panel of formerly incarcerated students who will share their experiences and speak about education’s impact on their rehabilitative process. The panel will be followed by a brief Q&A session and a group dialogue about restorative practices being used (and challenges) in their regions to assist formerly incarcerated individuals seeking higher education and and an improved quality of life.
(4) Handout will be provided.
(5) The goals are as follows:

  • Challenge stigmas surrounding Currently & Formerly Incarcerated (C&FI) populations
  • Create a dialogue about restorative practices (and challenges) in other regions
  • Increase network of reentry allies
  • Discuss regional challenges for nontraditional students
  • Raise awareness of challenges faced by C&FI individuals
  • Identify ways to improve ability to connect with this population
  • Challenge the ability to identify and mitigate personal biases
  • Understand the political landscape with respect to justice reform
  • Contribute to lowering recidivism


Educators and service providers

Promoting Equity Through Personalized Project-Based Learning

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Innovations on Equity in Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Session II: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM


More so now than ever before, today’s classroom combines students at all levels of proficiency, ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, behavioral tendencies, and motivation. Such extreme diversities create major challenges for the delivery of course content that promotes student engagement, comprehension, and retention. Springs Charter Schools’ Career/Internship Technical Education (CITE) will share an educational approach that promoted equity for ALL students in any classroom environment.


ESSEL_george 2017George Essel

Lead CTE Coordinator
Springs Charter Schools

Biography: George Essel is a military trained electro-mechanical technician who, after earning his BBA, became a Business Development and Program Manager is military education and training – specifically providing operation, maintenance, and instruction on military simulation systems. In 2005, George established River Springs Charter School’s Wathen Aviation High School with the assistance of a Perkins III Tech Prep Demonstration Grant that he authored on behalf of the school. Over the past decade, he has continued to expand the CTE program for the school to include twelve pathways under eight industry sectors. Mr. Essel holds two clear CTE Designated Subject teaching credentials – one in Engineering and Architecture and the other in Business and Finance. He has designed and taught aviation, business, engineering and robotics courses. George attributes the success of the school’s CTE program to the military education model that he replicates for the school’s CTE programs.

ESSEL_deb 2017Debbie Essel

Asst. Superintendent of Education – Academies
Springs Charter Schools

Biography: Deb Essel’s employment with Springs Charter Schools began in 2000 when she was a teacher for adults in recovery programs to her current positions for the last ten years as the Assistant Superintendent of Education – Academies. Mrs. Essel has a double major bachelorette degree from Boston University in Physical Education and Special Education and a master degree in Education and Curriculum from Kaplan University. Deb holds a lifetime multi-subject teaching credential with the State of Massachusetts and a clear single-subject PE teaching credential with the State of California. Prior to joining River Springs Charter School, Mrs. Essel was the Site Manager / Lead Instructor for the United States Message Text Formatting contract at Fleet Training Center, San Diego, CA where she re-designed the Government provided curriculum that resulted in an average GPA increase of over six (6%) percent in each of the three courses taught.

WILSON_maureen 2017Maureen Wilson

Director of Real World Programs
Springs Charter Schools

Biography: Maureen Wilson graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Fine Arts and a single subject teaching credential. Upon graduation, she began teaching in the San Diego Unified School District. She left the teaching profession to raise her two children, but enjoyed volunteering in their classrooms so much she decided to return. She earned her multiple subject credential and taught grades 4 through 6. She was introduced to Homeschooling and Charter Schools when she was employed by Springs Charter Schools in 2004. In 2014 she was made the Director of the Real World Programs, which includes CTE. The importance of preparing students to be both Career and College ready is her primary goal.


George Essel, a member of CA Joint Special Populations Advisory Committee (JSPAC), transitioned to secondary CTE from military education in training in 2005. He initially developed River Springs Charter School’s CTE curriculum using military course structure. Over the past 10 years, with the assistance of his co-presenters, Debbie Essel and Maureen Wilson, the school has made adjustments to the curricular content delivery model for CTE programs designed to provide personalized learning for every student in the classroom, effectively tearing down walls that lead to inequity.

This workshop will model our classroom approach consisting of short lecture, project-based learning assignment, and discussion. Participants will observe this teaching strategy in action as the recipients of instruction (experienced learning). The discussion phase of the workshop will focus on participant observed strategies used by the three presenters to provide additional comprehension to all attendees.

Many attendees will be able to replicate these strategies in their classrooms with minimal planning. However, 75 minutes may be inadequate for all participants to fully comprehend the educational delivery concept. So, in the spirit of equity, we will provide a suggested resource list to all attendees in page copy with the option of signing up for an email copy with active hyperlinks.

The personalized learning through project-based education model is designed to provide each student with one-on-one instruction from the teacher. This allows the teacher an opportunity to diversify instruction to meet the individual needs of the student, help a struggling student comprehend through additional instruction, challenge high-achieving students to go beyond the learning objectives of the project, and connect with students on a personal level to help offset emotional, economic, special education, or motivational challenges.


This workshop is intended for educators with students in a classroom setting from diverse populations and various levels of proficiency.


Is STEM Truly for All: The Authentic Voice of Black and Latino Students Regarding Their STEM Motivation

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Session II: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM


This presentation takes an intricate look at the factors that motivate Black and Latino students to engage in STEM. According to the literature, the U.S. workforce could employ as many as 140,000 additional Black and Latino college graduates in STEM fields annually. Thus, the goal of this presentation is to inform the STEM education-to-career pipeline of a five-step, motivation-based process that encourages Black and Latino students to engage in STEM.


Coleman_Adrienne 2017Adrienne Coleman, Ed.D.

Multicultural Education Specialist
Illinois Mathematics And Science Academy

Biography: Adrienne Coleman possesses a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Argosy University as well as two Masters of Science in Health Education and Educational Administration and Foundation from Illinois State University. Currently, she is employed at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), a three year residential high school for gifted students, as the Multicultural Education Specialist. She previously worked at Rutgers University as a Program Development Specialist and at Illinois State University as a Health Educator. Adrienne has served as an AmeriCorps member and has been part of the United States delegation team to assist Moldova in addressing issues of human trafficking and inadequate health education. Her areas of interest include public health, social justice/diversity education and higher/gifted education. She hopes to continue promoting diversity/inclusion and providing enrichment opportunities, specifically STEM related for underrepresented populations.


Is STEM truly for all? According to the literature, it is rare to find gifted and talented Black and Latino Students who are engaged in STEM. They are virtually invisible in STEM majors and careers. Caucasians and Asians view STEM careers as a world of opportunities, whereas Blacks and Latinos view them as challenging and inaccessible. This results from a lack of exposure to STEM in K-12 education, mathematics phobias, students’ misperceptions of what science is, lack of real-life application of science, lack of motivation to succeed, and peer pressure that devalues high achievement. Black and Latino students tend to pursue familiar areas, such as the arts or athletics where they are sure they can excel because their role models have excelled in those areas already.

The literature has shown that Blacks and Latinos are earning less than other subcultures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for Blacks is $58,000, almost $20,000 less than Whites. However, the median income for Blacks in STEM careers is $75,000, which is only about $10,000 less than Whites (Landivar, 2013). With Blacks and Latinos not pursuing a STEM education, they are unable to excel in careers that typically provide a higher standard of living (Riegle-Crumb, Moore, & Ramos-Wada, 2010). Whites and Asians view STEM careers as a world of opportunities; whereas, Blacks and Latinos view them as challenging and inaccessible (The Center on Education and Work, 2008). The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Commission stated that between 2010 and 2020 the overall employment in STEM occupations will increase by 17 percent, yet not enough students are pursuing degrees and careers in the STEM fields to meet this increasing demand (Casey, 2012). Thus, this racially based STEM education gap needs to be examined in order to engage more Black and Latino students in STEM careers, and ultimately to improve the economies of those communities.

Although this STEM gap exists, Black and Latino students currently enrolled at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) suggest that STEM is for all. They are motivated to engage in STEM, and they plan on majoring in STEM as well as entering STEM careers. These 85 students were asked “What factors do gifted and talented Black and Latino students identify as motivating them to engage in STEM at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a residential academy for gifted/talented students?” The trends that all students agreed upon include personal drive to learn, obligation to Black and Latino community to eliminate negative stigmas about Black and Latino students, and solve problems/to advance humanity. This presentation will inform educators on an approach to minimize the STEM gap that disproportionately impacts Black and Latino students by providing a five-step, motivation-based process.

This presentation will also serve as the genuine voice of Black and Latino students, which seems to be absent from research; “it is important that we listen to what they are telling us about who they are, what they think, and what they hope to achieve.” In addition,, “research into the motivation of gifted minority students is so scant that there remain many untapped avenues of investigation as we attempt to develop a more complete understanding of the interaction between giftedness, race and ethnicity.” With an understanding of gifted and talented Black and Latino students’ motivation, matriculation to higher education may improve, STEM engagement may be enhanced, and visibility in STEM careers may increase. Diversifying the STEM field may indirectly impact the socioeconomic status of the Black and Latino populations with opportunities to earn more money, have more consistent employment, and obtain leadership positions.


This presentation is for educators who are attempting to motivate Black and Latino Students to become engaged in or major in STEM. It is for professionals in the STEM industry who are attempting to strengthen and diversify the STEM education-to-career pipeline. And it is for Diversity Managers who are attempting to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This presentation will speak to both new and seasoned professionals, because the data serves as the genuine voice of Black and Latino students, which seems to be absent from the research.

Building Capacity: Preparing FIRST for the Race to STEM Access and Opportunity

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Building a Diverse Workforce
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Session II: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM


This session provides an opportunity to learn from FIRST’s “race” toward equity, diversity, and inclusion. FIRST will offer its rationale for building organizational capacity to respond to shifting national demographics and address the need for future STEM professionals, and for positioning its programs to be a solution. Attendees will learn about three core strategies: (1) Partnerships and Alliances, (2) Professional Learning—a NAPE collaboration, and (3) Pilot Initiatives.


HENDERSON_shelley 2017Shelley Henderson, MSeD

Diversity & Inclusion Manager

Biography: Shelley Henderson is the Diversity & Inclusion Manager for FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—a global New Hampshire-based nonprofit that offers accessible, innovative programs to motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. She leads its national STEM equity initiative to design and implement strategies that will not only improve the diversity of K-12 program participation but will also embed inclusion within the FIRST organization and field implementation. Shelley has defined and prioritized underrepresented and underserved populations to design laser-focused strategies aligned with metrics for optimal impact.


Our country’s demographics are shifting—and our economic fate will hinge on how we respond to these changes. As the population grows more diverse and people of color become the majority, equity—just and fair inclusion of diverse populations—has become an imperative. Diversity is an asset, but rising inequalities and persistent racial gaps in health, wealth, income, employment, education, and opportunity prevent low-income people, people of color, and other underserved populations from realizing their full potential. The jobs of the future will require higher levels of skills and education, but our education and job training systems are not adequately preparing the Latinos, African Americans, and other underserved populations. Attendees will be presented with some national data related to the above from the PolicyLink National Equity Atlas and with local data from 1 or 2 attendees. Attendees will also view an opening video on equity and participate in a session-opening icebreaker; we will use the “race track” metaphor throughout the presentation.

STEM education and training offer a pathway to well-paying jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in the fastest-growing fields. Increasing participation in STEM fields is critical because America needs a qualified workforce, leaders, and innovators to maintain a competitive edge. There is also rapid growth in the need for STEM professionals. Between 2008 and 2018, the nation’s need for STEM professionals will grow by 17 percent–which is more than the projected growth for administrative work, sales, and transportation combined.

The mission of FIRST® is to inspire youth to become science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting, mentor-guided, project-based programs that teach STEM skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities. It provides opportunities to develop STEM literacy through a robotics platform. It has four programs–FIRST LEGO League Jr., which serves K-3, FIRST LEGO League which serves grades 4-8, FIRST Tech Challenge, serving grades 7 through high school, and the oldest program, FIRST Robotics Competition, which serves grades 9-12. Attendees will receive take-home information about these programs.

FIRST is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion to help achieve STEM equity. It embraces and encourages differences in race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, income, or any other characteristics that make our workforce and program participants unique. Exploring, developing, and implementing strategies to become more inclusive and ensure access of our programs to all students (as well as access to key support factors) is critical for FIRST to reach its goal and mission. ALL young people should have the opportunity to become science and technology leaders. FIRST will remove barriers to program participation for underserved, underrepresented children and youth. Pursuant to that end, the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative is a concerted, organized effort on the part of FIRST to develop strategies to make its programs more accessible and inclusive.

FIRST has set a strategic priority of making its programs more inclusive and better representative of the communities where teams are located and build a presence where we have little or none. Demographic data on program participation indicates that girls represent 25%-35% of team members at FIRST, and data from the longitudinal study suggests that the majority of youth in FIRST programs are male (68%), white (68%), suburban (51%), from two parent households (88%), and middle class backgrounds (73% indicated $50,000 or more; 19% indicated $150,000 or more). Exploring, developing, and implementing strategies to become more inclusive and ensure access of our programs to all students (as well as access to key support factors) is critical for FIRST to reach its mission. Attendees will learn about the pre-implementation work done and data gathered to prepare for the launch of the initiative.


Attendees will learn about the development and implementation of three core strategies at FIRST: Partnerships & Alliances, Professional Learning, and Pilot Initiatives.

Partnerships & Alliances: FIRST realizes that it will not reach its strategic objective on diversity and inclusions without solid, mutually reciprocal partnerships. FIRST maintains important national alliance and local relationships with a network of organizations, corporations, foundations, institutions, colleges and universities, and others that are committed to sustaining key programs that ignite young minds and advocate STEM. These relationships help increase FIRST visibility and provide valuable resources. At the state/local level, these relationships can have a significant impact in the community by creating more teams, engaging more mentors, and reaching out to more students.

Professional Learning: FIRST is launching training and technical assistance for headquarters staff and field coaches, mentors, volunteers, and partners designed to strengthen both diversity awareness and inclusive practices. An initial assessment will (1) help rate the diversity and inclusion awareness and skillsets within the organization, (2) uncover the unconscious bias, attitudes, and beliefs of training participants that may either strengthen or undermine performance and program implementation, (3) create organizational recommendations on how to inspire culture change, and (4) provide participants with tips and techniques on how to be more inclusive in the areas they may need improvement. A combination of customized online and face-to-face learning will allow FIRST to address gaps in understanding that ultimately encourages improved access to programs for diverse populations and inclusive environments and experiences for children, youth and families. Attendees will learn about FIRST’s progress, tools, and collaborations with partners like the one it undertook with NAPE on micromessaging. This unique program provides participants with an awareness of the power of micromessages, which include looks, gestures, tone of voice, or the framing of feedback that subtly yet powerfully shape our culture, our classrooms, and the individuals within them.

Pilot Initiatives:

FIRST has launched targeted initiatives to build the capacity of communities to develop coalitions that promote STEM engagement and FIRST program participation to increase diversity and foster inclusion. These initiatives are designed to increase the number of underrepresented, underserved youth and enable community leaders to map current resources, identify service gaps or other unmet needs, and provide the supports necessary to initiate program participation (rookie FIRST teams) or improve inclusion (in veteran FIRST teams), and create the metrics and data systems to drive continuous improvement over time. With generous support from donors, FIRST is launching these initiatives and will support as many as 20 communities to improve diversity, inclusion, and implementation of FIRST programs. Attendees will learn about these new coalitions and identify ways they can engage in efforts near them.


The intended audience includes those with all levels of experience implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives–from novice to advanced.