College of Education students and faculty participate in Inclusive Illinois Day

by The College of Education   /   Oct 14, 2011

The College of Education participated in “Inclusive Illinois Day: One College, Many Voices” on September 21, 2011.

Individuals walking through the north lobby of the Education Building could recommit themselves to Inclusive Illinois and were reminded of both tangible and intangible ways to support Inclusive Illinois and its goals.

Participants, as members of the University of Illinois community, could agree to a commitment statement that read, in part, “I will encourage the expression of different voices, perspectives, and ideas. I will challenge my own beliefs, opinions, and viewpoints … My commitment will be demonstrated by my voice and my conduct.”

Approximately 200 students, faculty, and staff received an “I committed” sticker for signing the diversity pledge.

“It is a very important day that helps us to reflect on our commitment to a diverse college and campus,” said Mildred Trent, assistant dean for diversity, access, and academic affairs for the College of Education.

Making a commitment to diversity “is a very necessary exercise. Inclusive Illinois gives us an opportunity to experience that exercise,” Trent added.

As part of Illinois Inclusive Day, the college held a mini-conference that promoted diversity and equity on the following topics: males of color in a college and career readiness intervention; global inequities in education; cultural diversity and social justice; and communities of acceptance in all classrooms.

Program presenters included Lorenzo Baber, assistant professor in EPOL; Bekisizwe S. Ndimande, assistant professor, and Marilyn Johnston-Parsons, professor; both in Curriculum and Instruction; David Zola, clinical professor, and Milo Dodson, graduate student, Educational Psychology; and Michaelene Ostrosky, professor and department head, and Johnell Bentz, clinical associate professor, Special Education.

In addition to activities at the College of Education, Kayla Bell, one of two College of Education Inclusive Illinois student representatives, partnered with Next Generation School in Champaign to teach students there about diversity. Trent and Bell “thought that partnering with Next Generation would be a great way to promote and encourage diversity at a younger level,” Bell said.

“Because Next Generation is a diverse school setting, I thought that it would benefit this population greatly and give the students an opportunity to talk a little bit about themselves, their culture, and ethnicity,” she explained. 

Bell encouraged her students to wear orange and blue that day. In addition, they were asked to bring two "show and tell" items from home–one that represented their family or culture and something else that represented them as an individual.

She also planned group activities for the children that centered on the appreciation of diversity and individuality. “I explained Inclusive Illinois to my second grade students as a special day to celebrate everyone's differences and accept everyone no matter how they look on the outside, and that it's what's on inside that counts,” Bell said.

After students shared the items they brought in, they drew and colored a portrait of themselves on a crayon template. Bell then placed the crayons together in a crayon box she created out of construction paper. To conclude her activities, Bell emphasized to the children that celebrating diversity should not be reserved for one day, but that it should be done every day.

For additional information about the College of Education’s commitment to diversity and equity, contact Mildred Trent at mtrent1@illinois.edu or at 217-333-2800.

“Inclusive Illinois, one campus, many voices” is the University of Illinois’ commitment to diversity. For more information about the campus-wide initiative, go to www.inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu.