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Two NFA P-TECH Educators Present at National Conference of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Two Newburgh Free Academy P-TECH educators, Christine McCartney and Jacqueline Hesse, are working to help teachers facilitate civic discussions around real-world issues, with a specific focus on topics such as race, immigration and LGBTQ equity.
Recently McCartney and Hesse shared their work in a presentation at the National Conference of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Houston, Texas. They shared their belief that when students are given the opportunity to engage in civic discourse, they are better prepared to take an active role in a democratic society and become practiced in the art of critical thinking. In addition to the conference, both educators work with the Hudson Valley Writing Project, the Orange County Human Rights Commission and YWCA Orange County to facilitate a five-series workshop for teachers which explores important contemporary topics that impact our classrooms, such as racism, immigration, gender equity and LGBTQ issues. The workshops, sponsored by a Teaching Tolerance grant from The Southern Poverty Law Center, is called Teaching Tough Topics provide teachers with support for teaching contemporary issues and promoting civic discourse and invite teachers to learn and practice teaching and facilitation strategies with a social-justice orientation. Strategies featured in the course are student-centered and literacy-driven, and are easily adaptable for various parts of the writing process. After participating in the course, one participant said, “I really want my students to learn how to take the perspectives of their peers and listen to the opinions and thoughts of others. This course gave me strategies to encourage my students to engage with one another with an open mind. I also learned a great deal about the issues we explored.”
Because McCartney and Hesse recognize that the current political climate poses a threat to our immigrant students, in this workshop for NCTE, they focused on the issue of immigration. Participants spent time considering significant immigration legislation throughout our country’s history, collaboratively examining the legal paths to citizenship that exist today, and trying out a portable strategy for promoting civic discourse in their classrooms.
When asked about the experience, Mrs. Hesse commented, “we were so grateful for the opportunity to enter into this conversation with colleagues from around the country.” Mrs. McCartney added that “the efforts that the Newburgh Enlarged City school district is taking to ensure inclusive equity for all students validates the importance of this type of work.”
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