SEL Awardee

Laura Denton

Knox County Schools
Knoxville, TN
“KCS includes 57,000+ students and 8000+ staff. Student diversity is growing; 32% of students identify as Black/Latino/Asian/Native American or Pacific Islander. 14.2% indicate a disability, 7.9% are ELL, and over 26% are economically disadvantaged. However, even with district-wide diversity, many individual schools tend to be homogenous in their composition. Disparities in educational outcomes persist especially for Black males, students with disabilities, English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students. Following the University of Michigan's process of intergroup dialogue, SPACES will bring together 36 diverse students and 6 educators from 6 schools, to engage in a student-centered dialogical and collaborative process. This innovative educational process aims to guide students in learning how to talk with and listen to students from different backgrounds, discern commonalities as well as differences in these interactions, work cooperatively across differences, and learn how to negotiate intergroup conflicts. Students, alongside KCS staff, who will serve as facilitators, will culminate this experience by developing media products around the themes of identity, diversity and belonging. Media may include but is not limited to videos, podcasts, websites, art and literature. We anticipate participants developing greater self-awareness, empathy, and collaborative problem solving, skills needed for advancing justice and peace in a culturally diverse world. The culminating media products have the potential to be used within all KCS schools and beyond to further these critical conversations. Adult facilitators will also develop the capacity to use this dialogue practice and extend it into their realms.”
Tags: District, Middle School, Students Affected by Suspensions, Traditional Public School, Urban