Today is the day after an important holiday; a holiday that celebrates the life of Martin Luther King (MLK). Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement. He gave his life while protesting racial discrimination. Yesterday, numerous staff members served our kids, our community, and our future as they attended the PIR training that addressed the important topic of cultural proficiency. They had rich and authentic conversations about: the core values that drive us as educators; examined the alignment between those core values and the decisions we make; and explored ways to navigate the dynamics of difference.

MLK had a vision – Freedom and respect for all people. Still today, after all these years, we seek to fulfill his dream where all people are respected regardless of their skin color, wealth, gender, abilities, disabilities, and any other characteristic that makes us individuals. As recent national conversations about race indicate, we have work yet to do.

Freedom and respect for all requires a nation of people who are culturally proficient. Being culturally proficient is an intentional decision to learn about oneself in order to be open to learn about others. Being culturally proficient means that you are cognizant of your own culture, and also recognize that every individual has culture. With recognition, we are more able to respect the culture of other, whether as groups or individuals.

As a district, being culturally proficient means that we are open to understanding that culture is a predominant force in our schools as it impacts the ways we enforce and reinforce the values of GFPS. We must be good at acknowledging, affirming and embracing the diversity that exists between and within cultures. We must also be good at upholding the dignity of every person, and by doing so; we increase opportunities for their success.

Thank you to all the staff that organized yesterday’s PIR opportunity and to the staff members that attended. The GFPS Indian Education Department’s mission is to support the District’s efforts in our journey towards cultural proficiency. If you have questions or need support in your personal journey, please contact Director of Indian Education, Corri Smith. There are many resources available to support your work on this path. It’s a trip worth taking.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.