Creating Culturally Affirming Education for Students of Color

Workshop Presenters

Rossana M. Cota  is a music specialist in Clark County School District, Las Vegas, NV.  She is a music choral director for middle school and teaches Orff-Schulwerk level courses at a number of universities.  She is co-author of the music curriculum used in grades K-5 for the Clark County School District.  She is a national presenter at music organization conferences and has written many songs/plays for elementary children which are bilingual in Spanish and English.

Barry Derfel is the Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity in the Ithaca City School District's Office of Staff Development.  He has been a classroom teacher since 1985, working from pre-K through high school. His main areas of expertise are Social Studies and English Language Arts, and he is known throughout the district for his skill in creating engaging, culturally responsive curriculum that addresses equity issues and the achievement gap while also meeting state standards effectively.  Barry grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, completed his B.A. at Ithaca College in 1985, and has lived in Ithaca ever since. He and his wife, who is also a teacher, have three children.  To see some of the work he is doing in his current role, visit his ICSD Equity Homepage: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/legacy/district/staffdev/bderfel/

Rosemary Eichenlaub is a teacher at the Hochstein Music School, in Rochester, NY and the  director of the Mozart Kids Chorus at Nazareth College, where she is also a supervisor of music student teachers.  She received her BS degree in music and MS degree in elementary education from Nazareth College. She has taken Orff Levels at Hamline University and the Eastman School of Music. She presented at  the 1994 AOSA Conference and authored the article “Journaling in Music--A Different Kind of Assessment” published in the Winter 1996 Orff Echo. She was the recipient of the Rochester Philharmonic  Orchestra Outstanding Music Educator Award in 1998. Rosemary taught  elementary vocal music for 34 years in the Rochester City School  District. She was a mentor teacher for nine of those years and a  cooperating teacher for many students from Nazareth and Eastman.

Sean Eversley-Bradwell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College.  He coordinates the African Diaspora minor and teaches courses on critical race theory, hip-hop, and educational pedagogy.  His research interests include the process of racialization and policy/pedagogy concerning the educational experience of marginalized students.  He received a B.A. in political science and an M.S. in education from the University of Rochester, and, just recently, his Ph.D. from Cornell University.  His just completed doctoral dissertation is titled “Black Students and Educational Policy.”

Prior to his position at Ithaca College he served as a secondary school social studies teacher and assistant to the principal for multicultural affairs at the Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca, NY.  Through his professional experiences in education as well as his work with community organizations, he remains dedicated to positively altering educational outcomes for all students, especially students of color.

Geneva Gay, Ph.D., is a Professor of Education at the University of Washington-Seattle where she teaches multicultural education and general curriculum theory. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, presented by the Committee on the Role and Status of Minorities in Educational Research and Development of the American Educational Research Association; the first Multicultural Educator Award presented by the National Association of Multicultural Education; the 2004 W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Lecturer Award presented by the Special Interest Group on Research Focus on Black Education of the American Educational Research Association; and the 2006 Mary Anne Raywid Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Field of Education, presented by the Society of Professors of Education. She is nationally and internationally known for her scholarship in multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, staff development, classroom instruction, and intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, teaching, and learning.

Dr. Gay's writings include numerous articles and book chapters, including A Synthesis of Scholarship in Multicultural Education; the co-editorship of Expressively Black: The Cultural Basis of Ethnic Identity (Praeger, 1987); author of At the Essence of Learning: Multicultural Education (Kappa Delta Pi, 1994), and Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Practice, & Research (Teachers College Press, 2000); and editor of Becoming Multicultural Educators: Personal Journey Toward Professional Agency (Jossey-Bass, 2003). Culturally Responsive Teaching received the 2001 Outstanding Writing Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). She also is a member of the authorship team of the Scott Foresman New Elementary Social Studies Series. Her professional service includes membership on several national editorial review and advisory boards. International consultations on multicultural education have taken her to Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Finland, Japan, England, Scotland, and Australia.

Cynthia Henderson, MFA, is an Associate Professor in Ithaca College's Department of Theatre Arts.  In addition to her college teaching, research, and producing of plays, she has worked with students of color in the Ithaca School District to write and perform a play, Voice Suspended, about their experiences with issues of race and racism.  For this work she received the 2008 CSPA-NYS Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice Award. A professional performer for a number of years in the U.S., Europe and Africa, her Ithaca credits include: the Hangar Theatre - Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream; the Kitchen Theatre - Lily in Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Callie in Stop Kiss. Cynthia's New York City credits include: A Wrinkle in Time at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts; Off Broadway: Dorothy Dandridge: An Evening of Song and Remembrance; Brother's Keeper; and It's Only a Play. Her regional theater credits include the Foothill Theatre Company's Valley Song. Her European credits include leading roles in Dreamgirls, Into the Woods, Children of a Lesser God, and Little Shop of Horrors. Professor Henderson was acknowledged by the European Tournament of Plays with the Best Supporting Actress in a Musical award for her role in Little Shop of Horrors. African credits include Charlayne in Pretty Fire and a production of for colored girls ... which she directed. Television credits include a starring role in UPN's Ghost Stories as well as numerous commercial and industrial credits. Her directing credits for Ithaca College include: Burn This, The Colored Museum, Triad by EJ Gold, and other explorations. She is also an alum of the Fulbright Scholar program, and as a Fulbright Scholar she spent a year in Cameroon studying theatre for social justice.

Alejandro Jimenez has been a music educator in the Hartford Public Schools since 1974, with 22 of those years spent teaching in middle and junior high schools.  He has been a presenter at many national conferences (National Multicultural Music Symposium, National Urban Music Symposium, MENC, CMEA, CTAOSA, and others), and he has published numerous articles/chapters with such publishers and publications as: Share the Music textbooks from McGraw Hill, World Music Press, K-8th Magazine, and Spotlight on Music by Hal Leonard Publishers.  In 2006 he was named Connecticut's Elementary Music Teacher of the Year.

Alice Pratt taught music in the Rochester City Schools for 33 years, is a winner of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music Educators Award, and is a multiple year inductee in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.  Currently teaching at the Hochstein School of Music in Rochester, NY and on the faculty of Nazareth College of Rochester, she is also on the National Board of Trustees for the American Orff Schulwerk Association and is a column coordinator for OPUS (Orff Programs in Urban Schools) in Reverberations.  She is a published composer and frequent presenter for AOSA, Canada Orff, and the New York State School Music Association. 

Kathy Robinson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Alberta, Robinson is author of White Teachers, Students of Color: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for Elementary General Music in Communities of Color and South Africa Sings: Choral Dance Songs from Galeshew.  She also contributed a chapter to the book, Cultural Diversity in Music Education: Directions and Challenges for the 21st Century.

Sofia Villenas, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at Cornell University.  She specializes in the anthropology of education, exploring the intersections of culture, language, race, class, and gender with family education and the schooling experiences of Latinos/as in the United States. Specifically, she studies how immigrant families in newly forming Latino communities describe the challenges of raising children in unfamiliar contexts and how they see themselves as teachers and learners within their families and larger community. Dr. Villenas asks how Latina mothers integrate themselves in their new surroundings and how they teach their children cultural identity in a local context that may be welcoming or isolating. These questions are important for considering adult and K-12 educational initiatives in rapidly changing communities and within the current national debates on immigration. Dr. Villenas' research also leads to theoretical and practical concerns about how members of non-dominant groups work to survive and construct fulfilling lives. She engages in the ongoing process of thinking from and with the knowledge and organic theories produced by U.S. Women of Color as a way to perceive Latinas' experiences and modes of resilience as pedagogy.

Dr. Villenas' main areas are educational anthropology, ethnography, multicultural education, issues of school inequality, the study of race, culture, gender and language in K-12, higher education and adult educational settings, Latino education, and cultural studies and women of color feminist thought in education. She teaches some of these areas as specific courses, but each of her courses is influenced by the above perspectives, theories, and qualitative methodology. She is interested in exploring the role of diversity in classroom settings and in educational reform.

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