Reopening: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools
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Master Class Q&A on Meaningful Work around Race and Equity

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    April Hattori

EL Education's 2016 National Conference (October 27-29 in Detroit) will feature more than 100 master classes, enabling attendees to "live the learning" by experiencing EL Education best practices as if they were in an EL classroom. In this Q&A, Capital City Public Charter School's Head of School Karen Dresden and Instructional Coach Leensa Fufa share a preview of their master class Engaging an Entire School in Meaningful Work Around Race and Equity. Capital City is an EL Education Credentialed School.

What inspired you to design this Master Class for EL Education’s National Conference?

Located in Washington, DC, we serve an incredibly diverse population at Capital City. It is a reality that we work with students and colleagues from backgrounds different from our own. It is another reality that historic and present day racism in our society significantly impacts the work we do. At Capital City, we aim to ensure that ALL students can achieve at high levels and recognize that we need educators with the will, skill, and knowledge to be leaders for equity in our classrooms and in our entire school community. For the past two years, Karen and I have co-facilitated another Master Class, Engaging an Entire School in Meaningful Work Around Race and Equity, that has reached maximum capacity for participation each time. We have been inspired by the deep and increasing investment of school leaders in the EL network to see the urgency of this important work.

What makes this Master Class different?

We redesigned this Master Class in response to participant feedback. The major shift in our Master Class this year is a digital Gallery Walk/Chalk Talk of our New Teacher Training agenda. Participants spend time looking through our facilitation plans online in a Google doc with links to protocols, texts, and other resources. They are given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions that we can respond to in real time.

What is one thing that you hope attendees of your Master Class walk away with?

The goal of making this shift is for attendees to walk away from our session with tools to initiate or lift the equity work needed at their own schools.

What was your favorite part of preparing this Master Class?

Preparing for this Master Class, and the Master Class that came before it, has provided us with another opportunity to reflect on our work, take stock of our progress, and plan for our continued journey.

Are there any other Master Classes you are excited about?

We are excited about the focus on educational equity for this year’s National Conference and look forward to gaining valuable insights from the keynote speaker, Jonathan Poullard, who is also facilitating the Pre-Conference day workshop and double session Master Class. We are also excited for the Master Class, Constructing a Culture of Liberation and Joy, facilitated by Monét Cooper, who has been a leader at Capital City in our work around race and equity both with students and our staff.

DETROIT: Stories from Inside the City, is another Master Class of interest. At Capital City, we believe that storytelling is an important lever for developing empathy and alliance across difference to interrupt inequities and combat racism. Given the current narratives of Detroit and the location of National Conference this year, we recognize a unique opportunity for EL Education to provide a platform for alternate perspectives to be shared.


Capital City Instructional Coach Leensa Fufa (L) and Head of School Karen Dresden.