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Teachers gain new perspective during cross-culture training

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Updated: 6/20/2013 11:06 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) --At Clark County schools most teachers don't look like their students.

Almost half of the children in the district are Hispanic and many others come from a wide array of ethnic backgrounds.

So teachers are going through some training to connect with students where they are most comfortable. News 3's Sandra Gonzalez reports on this diversity training for our teachers.

Author Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu tried to get teachers to look inside themselves and think about the impact they have on children's futures, and those around on campus.

"Are teachers comfortable making derogatory comments in your presence? What does that then say about you?" Kunjufu said.

His keynote speech was part of the 2013 Cross Cultural Institute for Clark County teachers. Pat Lawler is a special education teacher.

"We have to set aside our differences before we can ask the students to accept us, and with a little time. it takes some time, and nurturing for the students to respect and feel comfortable with you and the fact that you'll be there in the morning," Lawler said.

CCSD's student population is nearly half Hispanic; 60,000 students have trouble speaking English, a majority of those speak Spanish. One of Thursday's workshops was designed to build a cultural bridge to learning.

"We must look at our classrooms through the lens of cultural diversity," said Dr. Marie Wakefield, a visiting lecturer from UNLV, to a room full of Teachers at the Texas Station in North Las Vegas.

One topic: teaching cultural sensitivity to teachers.

"They can take the time to immerse themselves in cultural activities going on our community and our Latino community; to visit with some students in their home if necessary to get a better understanding of the holidays, the artifacts that go along with those children who are of Latino descent," said Dr. Doug Garner of the Jeffrey Behavior Center.

In the Latino family, for instance they may teach the children to listen so they're learning and not always raising their hand and being disruptive. They are taught to obey and listen and learn," Dr. Wakefield said.

Recently some parents of ELL students gathered at the Rafael Rivera Community Center. Many were unhappy with the way some teachers spoke to their children. But the district hopes through this type of training, respect and learning will blossom.

"We need to be sensitive not only to the students that we are working with as educators but also to each other as collaborators and colleagues and our administrators, as well as to the parents of the students who bring the best they have for us to try to the best we can with," said Connie Kratky, with CCSD's Equity and Diversity Education Department.

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