The entire community would benefit from a program introduced this year in the Milton Area School District, an effort designed to underscore the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The “Understanding A Culture of Inclusivity” program started this past fall when the district engaged expert facilitator Dr. Brian Johnson to begin discussions with school district staff.

As a trainer and provider of professional development, Johnson presents topics and themes each month during online discussions with teachers. Using film clips, he said his goal is to spark ideas and discussions among members of the school district’s instructional and administrative staff.

Johnson is the co-author of “Reel Diversity: A Teacher’s Sourcebook” (2008 and revised in 2015), winner of the 2009 Phillip Chinn Book Award by the National Association for Multicultural Education, as well as “We’ve Scene It All Before: Using Film Clips in Diversity Awareness Training (2009).”

Milton Area School District Superintendent Dr. Cathy Keegan said the dialogue is “deepening our understanding” of child abuse and homelessness, discrimination, cultural competence, implicit bias, racial bias, diversity and sexual orientation.

“We believe that our school community is a microcosm of the world and therefore we embrace the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Keegan said.

District teachers said they find the sessions helpful.

“While I consider myself to be an empathetic and open-minded person, I am constantly striving to better myself in understanding people who are different than me,” said Janna Bond, a K-12 instructional coach.

English teacher Wes Cromley said incorporating the concepts of the inclusivity into the normal curriculum will “allow students to learn, in a more profound way, about themselves and the society in which they live.”

Second-grade teacher Lindsay Pawling offered this eloquent summation of the program benefits: “Divisions and barriers that are erected from racial, cultural or economic differences can be demolished with love.

“Love is what students need to be shown consistently, Love helps students to know that they are cared for and valued no matter what the color of their skin or what socioeconomic background they come from.

“Displaying genuine love is what creates a bridge from a teacher to a student, allowing the student to reach his/her fullest potential.”

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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