ACPS Teachers Learn 'Cultural Responsive Teaching,' Other Lessons on Student Day Off

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ACPS teachers in lesson at Sutherland Middle School ACPS teachers in lesson at Sutherland Middle School

School was out for students Monday … but Albemarle County teachers had to spend the day in class.School officials used this day as professional development for the county's 1,200 teachers.

Teachers gathered at several schools for training and personal development sessions. One of the most important presentations held Monday was about cultural responsive teaching.

This is a vision that was established in 2009 by the Office of Community Engagement. The belief is that if culturally responsive teaching is implemented correctly and understood by the staff, it will close the achievement gap for students.

The county created a policy two years ago that all teachers receive cultural competency through professional development and embrace the idea.

 “We believe that when we develop relationships with students, we work towards creating relevance for them to make the learning more engaging, thus we're able to motivate them, thus we're able to get improved outcomes in terms of learning,” Bernard Hairston, executive director of community engagement of ACPS, said.

ACPS has a diverse school district with students born in 95 different countries from around the world. School leaders say this diversity causes a serious issue because of the opportunity gaps it creates.

ACPS says it's the first nationally that has created a culturally responsive certificate model that's evidence base.