Finding urban education solutions was the main focus during the Central Florida Urban Education Summit.
Educators and community leaders gathered during the College of Education and Human Performance (CEDHP) and Lou Frey Institute event to discuss ways and best practices for ensuring student learning and academic success.
David Johns, the former Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, provided the attendees with a raw and real presentation about race perceptions and barriers and how students’ voices need to be heard.
“We need to understand our babies,” said Johns. “Most of them are demanding love. Our job is to support them. We have to do the tough work required to build empathy and increase knowledge and understanding.”
Orange County Public Schools' (OCPS) Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said her county experienced accelerated urban growth when the economy declined and now has a diverse group of students from 200 countries.
“We have a beautiful tapestry and the challenge is to help lead our students to success no matter their background,” expressed Jenkins.
Breakout sessions centered around the event’s universal theme, “PK-20 Students, the Community, and a Commitment to Serving” with informative presentations by CEDHP professors, OCPS, the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, the Kissimmee Police Department, and other organizations.
Polk County School Board Senior Director for Professional Development Cheryl Joe was empowered by the summit, but feels there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“It’s the sign of the times,” she said. “We as educators need to know that we have to serve all kids who walk through our door. We have to be able to make a difference in their lives. It’s about changing beliefs, so we can change behaviors. They need to hear what’s relevant for today’s students.”