The department of education at Winston-Salem State University has partnered with the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, to help future teachers develop social justice dispositions while exploring school and community diversity.
Launched in the 2019 spring semester, the program brought together 20 students, 10 from each university, to learn about social justice and diversity. The program included a session on recognizing implicit bias, and discussions on social justice. The students also visited Bethel Elementary in Watauga County, a rural mountain school, as well as the Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork, an urban school in Forsyth County.
“From the first day, the Appalachian and WSSU students were interested in learning about each other and forming real friend connections,” said Chris Osmond, associate professor in the department of leadership and educational studies at Appalachian State. “As we visited Bethel Elementary and the Academy at Middle Fork, and as we talked and reflected, the students showed a willingness to share their deep stories of implicit and explicit bias toward those different from themselves, where they learned them, and how they were working to overcome them.”
The program was designed by Fran Bates Oates, director of the Office of Field and Clinical Experiences in WSSU’s department of education and an alumna of both Appalachian State and WSSU, alongside Dr. Osmond and Nicholas Jordan, associate professor in Appalachian State’s department of human development and psychological counseling.
“My goal has always been to cause a ripple effect of social justice disposition and self-reflection across our communities,” Dr. Oates said. “The students are now ready to look at their professions and their future classrooms in a different way.”
Based on the positive results and feedback from the students, the two universities plan to continue the program in the spring 2020 semester.