Diverse Voices: Wolfburg Fellowship for Social Justice in Education Empowers Teachers and Students in Duval County Schools
The Wolfburg Fellowship for Social Justice in Education connects cultures, builds empathy
Within the halls of Duval County schools, you can hear a multitude of languages being spoken by the diverse student body. According to Duval County Public Schools, the students’ cultural backgrounds represent more than 14 different languages, and Jacksonville’s diversity is increasing, according to the last U.S. Census.
Social Justice in Education
With more and more students coming from different cultures and students graduating into a world where business takes place on a global scale, teachers are finding new ways to connect to their culture and prepare them for a multi-cultural workplace. Through the Wolfburg Fellowship for Social Justice in Education several teachers have discovered new ways of connecting with students and their cultures and also partner with students to explore topics related to culture, inclusivity, equity, and social justice.
The Wolfburg Fellowship
The Wolfburg Fellowship, established in 2020, is a unique opportunity that provides up to $7,000 for teachers to deepen their knowledge around issues related to social justice, diversity and inclusion, and to implement an aligned action research project in partnership with students.
The award is given annually as a named grant and announced publicly to recognize teachers who have demonstrated an interest in and talent for ensuring equitable access to supportive learning environments for students in diverse and low-income school communities.
There have been four fellows to date, and each has used the Fellowship opportunity tackle challenges specific to their school communities.
Abby Solano, a dual-language instructor in Language Arts and Science at West Riverside Elementary, created a photography project for students to explore identity and representation. Students learned about photography, took their own photos and compared the images to what – or who – is commonly portrayed in the media.
Stanton High School teacher Steve Ingram developed a course to teach social justice outside of the classroom and engages the high school students as mentors and coaches to elementary school students. The students conduct research and present their projects that include the four components of social justice: tolerance, respect, empathy, and equity.
Shaneka Ferrell, a counselor at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, is using her Fellowship opportunity to explore how a student-created, student-led, Black-performing, and visual arts production exemplifies and employs culturally responsive and sustaining practices that could inform overall efforts to create and sustain greater educational equity in performing arts schools.
The most recent Wolfburg Fellow, Anthony Aiuppy, an arts teacher at Englewood Elementary School, is going to help students at his diversely populated school create an anthology diary comic that tells the stories of their backgrounds and cultures. Mr. Aiuppy hopes teachers and the community can learn from the students even as the students are learning the connection between written words and visual arts.
As Duval County’s population continues to be more diverse, dedicated teachers are using opportunities like the Wolfburg Fellowship to connect with their students and giving them a framework that values respect, empathy, and equity.
Along the way, the students are having fun exploring cultures and sharing their own experiences. “I felt excited,” said Amer Rojas, a student who participated in Ms. Salono’s photography project. “Because you get to take pictures of your family, and that’s the thing I loved most about it.”
Are you a teacher who is doing great work and have an idea you’d like to develop and need resources for? Or if you know of such a teacher, visit https://www.jaxpef.org/what-we-do/strategic-initiatives/wolfburg-fund-for-social-justice-in-education to learn more about the Wolfburg Fellowship.