Emily J. Wilson
The 2019 ECLC Summer Institute brought together over 75 education stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, school-based clinicians, researchers, funders, and expert faculty. Participants and faculty convened for two days of verdant learning, which centered around the theme of “Digging Deeper on Difference,” in order to think critically about the ways that school structures, curricula, and partnerships can be improved to best serve the diverse learning assets and needs of Essex County students. The Summer Institute kicked off with a keynote presentation by Patricia Lampron, Principal of The Henderson K-12 Inclusion School in Boston and her colleagues as well as several other mainstage presentations, which focused on student agency and voice, teacher-student partnerships, social emotional learning, and equity.
On the first day of the Summer Institute, Helen Beattie (pictured above) co-led a session entitled “Student Voice and Agency: Enhancing Motivation, Engagement, and Equity.” Beattie founded UP for Learning: her career reflects a life-long passion for elevating the voices of those who feel disempowered and voiceless, either in the health or education realms. Beattie’s goal is to decrease referrals to school psychologists by helping educators better meet the needs of all learners, ensuring that the wisdom and potential of each child is fully mobilized. During the Institute, Beattie was joined by members of her faculty team (pictured above) at UP for Learning including: Lindsey Halman, who joined UP after 15 years as a middle level educator and advocate for youth voice in school transformation; and Clara Lew-Smith, a Yale University college student and activist for educational reform that includes young people as decision makers.
The interactive, day-long Student Voice and Agency session invited participants to learn about teacher-student partnerships, while building their toolkits to amplify youth voice, student agency, and students as partners in learning and school decision making. UP for Learning supports schools in creating and implementing dynamic strategies to strengthen the social and emotional fabric of schools, enhance student motivation, engagement, and ensure equity in learning. Major takeaways from the day-long session presented by UP faculty include a shift in mindset, which prompts us to think about education as something that happens with students and not something that happens to them, and to think of students as key partners and co-creators of learning.
On Day Two of the Summer Institute, Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, M.A., CAGS, Director of Open Circle at the Wellesley Centers for Women (pictured left), led a powerful session on integrating social emotional learning (SEL) and equity in school classrooms. This session helped participants build a better understanding about how their multiple identities play a role in facilitating SEL in the classroom and their impact on equitable (and non-equitable) SEL expectations and practices.
During the session, attendees took part in several hands-on activities where they were encouraged to engage in self-reflection on racial identity and focus on building meaningful relationships with students as a pathway to equity. Drummond-Forrester has served as the Director of Open Circle since 2017. She works collaboratively with her colleagues to provide curricula, professional development, and support that keeps the wellbeing of students at the center while meeting the needs of schools and educators.
[Photo credits above left/middle: Stuart Garfield
Day Two of this year's Summer Institute also featured breakout workshops, including: