Diversity Workshop for Teachers 

Teaching diversity in a state that isn’t very diverse.That’s the challenge facing a lot of teachers in Maine, but today some of them heard from folks who reminded them about the importance of the topic.”It’s amazing to me now that everything we were told not to do, we are now allowed to do.”More than 130 teachers and administrators gathered at the University of Maine to hear from a diverse group, about language, culture and education.The keynote speaker was Sonia Nieto. She retired from teaching at the University of Massachusetts a few years ago, and has been speaking about diversity for more than three decades.She points out that even though Maine’s population is made up of mostly caucasions, that’s not the case in other parts of the country.In fact, there are estimates that within 35 years, the majority of citizens in the U.S. will be people of color.”I think we do a disservice to our students to our young people by not preparing them for that diversity, and so that means we need to prepare our teachers for diversity.”One future teacher at the workshop says she was inspired by Sonia’s message, and understands the importance of teaching young people about different cultures.”Because in the future they are gonna be going out of the state and out of the country and I think what’s what really hit home with me about teaching them even though it’s not their everyday surroundings.”Johanna Bridges is a Spanish teacher and says she got ideas about bringing her Columbian background into the classroom.”Sonia like opened my mind about a lot of thinks that are happening in other schools.”Sonia also says these kinds of lessons can have far reaching effects on our country.”I think it’s important that we think of language and culture as enriching rather than as a threat to national unity. I think our national unity comes from respect for our differences.”