Ann Arbor nonprofit holds joint workshop on diversity and arts for Ann Arbor and Ypsi teachers

Ann Arbor nonprofit Embracing Our Differences Michigan (EOD Michigan) recently hosted a joint workshop to share curricula on diversity and the arts with both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti teachers. 

EOD Michigan Executive Director Nancy Margolis explains that the idea behind the workshop was to provide educators from both Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) and Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) with "curriculum they could easily use in their classroom or school."

"We want to make it as easy as possible for teachers to teach students [so] that a diverse society can enhance our own lives and the society around us," says Margolis. "The teachers wanted to have something that was easy to use, and available for everyone for free through our website."

Feedback from one participating teacher expressed appreciation for how "valued and respected" they felt in the workshop. Because Michigan teachers are required to participate in five days of professional development over the course of a school year, Margolis says she is working both to ensure that future workshops will count towards that requirement, and to provide compensation to participating teachers. 

Margolis worked alongside new EOD Michigan Director of Education Kay Wade to assemble a team of teachers who wrote K-12-friendly lesson plans and curricula that teachers could implement immediately in their classroom with little modification to their pre-existing lesson plans. Wade, who has worked in both YCS and AAPS, wanted to create plans suitable for all teachers regardless of grade level or discipline.

"We wanted to respect and honor how difficult the job of teaching is, and give them material they could use right away and not spend hours planning," Wade says. "If I can help teachers help their students think differently or reaffirm their way of thinking, that's what excites me."

While the Embracing Our Differences parent organization in Sarasota, Fla., also offers free lesson plans for teachers, Wade and Margolis are currently working to put more of that content on the EOD Michigan website and adapt it to Michigan's educational standards. Wade also says that other teachers from around the area are itching to get into the next workshop, although dates for future workshops are not currently set.

"Teachers need to know that they are honored, valued, and respected for their ideas and the work they do on a day-to-day basis," Wade says. "Not only did they go away with some ideas, [but] sometimes, the things we did remind them of things that they already had or were doing, and I think teachers need more of that."

For more information on upcoming EOD Michigan workshops, or to access lesson plans discussed and shared in workshops, visit EOD Michigan's website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Lynne Settles.
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