Parent Education Night: Diversity, Awareness, Advocacy Panel

Parent Education Night:
Diversity, Awareness, Advocacy (DAA) Panel
September 23, 2021
6:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Virtual Event

 

Submit questions here for the DAA panel.

Click here to view a flyer for the event.

WRM is truly proud to have launched our Diversity Awareness and Advocacy curriculum last year. Presenting accurate, developmentally appropriate information to children about race, cultural identity, gender, differing ability, and other underrepresented/marginalized groups is a widely considered critical part of balanced child development. Dr. Montessori believed in creating environments that embrace the world in which children live. This panel is meant to raise awareness in our parent community as well as provide tools for how to talk with your children about topics such as this.

The panel answered pre-submitted questions from our parent community.

 

CO-MODERATORS

Rachel Gonzales

More about Rachel

Connie Laufersky

More about Connie

Rachel Gonzales

Rachel Gonzales is an advocate and ally in the movement for transgender equality. As the mother of a transgender child, Rachel fights to ensure that other parents are able to advocate for their transgender children, and that all transgender people receive the love and support that has allowed her child to thrive. Rachel has testified many times at the Texas Capitol, was an integral part of blocking Texas’s anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, and continues to push for trans equality across Texas and around the country.

Rachel maintains a local and national media presence, a platform she uses to defend the rights of the transgender community.l. As a member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Parents for Transgender Equality Council, Rachel provides input to HRC’s national strategy and has participated in roundtable discussions with the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force in Washington, DC. A fourth generation native Texan, Rachel is based in Dallas where she lives with her husband, three children, and three dogs.

 


Connie Laufersky

Connie Laufersky has been involved in Montessori education for over 25 years, having begun her Montessori journey when her children were enrolled in a Montessori school during their preschool years. She holds a BS in Earth Science, with a minor in Music from Michigan State University, has her MEd in Education with an emphasis on Montessori Integrated Studies, holds Montessori credentials in Secondary I, Secondary II, and Administration, and has her state certification in School Leadership. Ms. Laufersky loves anything to do with the outdoors, is a yoga enthusiast, and enjoys spending time with her husband, her four adult children, and her dogs, Sadie and Scout. She is originally from northern Michigan and loves spending time there whenever she is able.

 


PANELISTS

Geoffrey Bishop

Mukwonago, Wisconsin

Board of Directors, American Montessori Society

Executive Director, Nature’s Classroom

More about Geoffrey

Sara Bloomberg

Board of Directors, American Montessori Society

Founder, blossoming beyond the binary

Faculty, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

More about Sara

Vyju Kadambi

Washington, DC

Founder, Southwest Montessori Academy

Assistant Principal, Shining Stars Montessori Academy

More about Vyju

Saadia Ahmed

Houston, Texas

Houston Montessori Center

More about Saadia

Iana Phillips

Austin, Texas

Board of Directors, American Montessori Society

More about Iana

Dave Edwards

Minnesota

Gender Inclusive Schools

More about Dave

Geoffrey Bishop
Board of Directors, American Montessori Society
Executive Director, Nature’s Classroom
Mukwonago, Wisconsin

Geoffrey E. Bishop hails from the bush in North West NSW, Australia. After his childhood spent on his family’s sheep station, he went to an agricultural boarding school for five years, and then to University in both Sydney and Melbourne where he studied Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

In 1996 Geoffrey started Nature’s Classroom Institute of Wisconsin, Inc. NCI is a residential environmental education program serving schools throughout the Midwest. The Nature’s Classroom Institute program helps students understand the natural environment, participate in ecosystem exploration and study, and work together with their peers and teachers as a community. The program includes activities such as confidence-building, group challenges, historical simulations, scientific explorations, and many more hands-on academic lessons.

After developing a strong academic and environmental outdoor-based curriculum, he formed Nature’s Classroom Montessori School that blends the core philosophy of Montessori with his environmental principles. The past Board Chair of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education (WAEE), he has been honored by WAEE as Wisconsin Non-Formal Educator of the Year.

Geoffrey also serves on the American Montessori Society (AMS) Board of Directors.

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Sara Bloomberg
Board of Directors, American Montessori Society
Founder, blossoming beyond the binary
Faculty, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

Sara Bloomberg, MA (they/them/their) is the founder of blossoming beyond the binary a consulting organization that strives to bring gender diversity and equity and lgbqtia+ positivity to people across the globe. Sara is a veteran Montessori educator with more than 25 years of educational experience. Sara received an AMS credential in Early Childhood from West Side Montessori School. Sara is a faculty member at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Duhovkha Teacher Education Program, and is a consultant for West Side Montessori School’s Teacher Education Program. Sara is a Montessori Coach for the Bezos Academy and a board member of the American Montessori Society and the Chair of the AMS lgbtqia+ Affinity Group. Sara was the founder of Battery Park Montessori School and the Director of the Early Childhood Department of the St Augustine Public Montessori School. Sara is a Board Member of the American Montessori Society and has consulted for families, children, schools, and corporations internationally. Sara is incredibly passionate about collaborating with everyone and helping them support and guide lgbqtia+ people of all ages.

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Vyju Kadambi
Founder, Southwest Montessori Academy
Assistant Principal, Shining Stars Montessori Academy
Washington, DC

Vyju Kadambi holds AMS credentials in Early Childhood, Elementary I and Administrator. Vyju has almost 25 years of Montessori school experience as a teacher and in positions of leadership. She has worked mainly in the private sector and recently did a short stint in a Public charter school. In addition, Vyju completed her Master’s Degree in Education from Xavier University.

Vyju founded Southwest Montessori Academy in Fort Wayne, IN and continues to serve on that board. She is a Positive Discipline Parent and Classroom Trainer. She has presented workshops on Positive Discipline, Mindfulness and has done many assistant training workshops. Vyju also serves on the board for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative.

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Saadia Ahmed
Houston Montessori Center
Houston, Texas

Saadia loves writing fiction and non-fiction material. She is a closet comedian and a mystery movie solver. She feels the most authentic version of herself when she is teaching. She feels so blessed to spend the days learning and laughing in Montessori communities!

Saadia’s Montessori experience spans 11 years, in both public and private settings. She is Elementary I-II credentialed by the American Montessori Society and holds an M.Ed in Montessori Integrative Learning. She has been teaching adult learners for the past 5 years and mentor teachers internationally. She loves learning as much as teaching and is currently enrolled in the EdD program for Learning and Organizational Change at Baylor University.

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Iana Phillips
Board of Directors, American Montessori Society
Austin, Texas

An American Montessori Society (AMS) credentialed Elementary I and II teacher of eleven years and credentialed Administrator. Iana has worked in multiple Montessori environments and models; public, private, and public charter. Over the course of her Montessori career, she has served students in the classroom and works with future Montessorians, as an instructor at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD, an AMS consultant, and a volunteer MACTE verifier. Iana also serves on the boards of the Montessori Public Policy Initiative, the American Montessori Society, and is a nationally recognized presenter. Iana holds degrees in History from Mary Baldwin College and New Mexico State University and a Master’s degree in Teaching from Trinity Washington University. Iana is currently attending the University of Texas at Austin engaged in a doctoral degree. She considers herself a humble Montessori parent, supportive consultant, enthusiastic learner, and proud Montessorian of Colour.

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Dave Edwards
Gender Inclusive Schools
Minnesota

Dave Edwards, PhD (ABD), MAT, has served as a teacher and administrator in multiple school districts across the country. He has held full-time faculty positions in the teacher preparation programs at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Hamline University.

As a Welcoming Schools national facilitator, Dave provides whole-staff training and consultation using their 6 Professional Development modules. Over the last 3 years, he has trained and supported educators in over 150 different school districts and independent schools! He regularly supports individual families by attending social transition meetings and helping navigate instances of gender/identity-based bullying and discrimination.

Locally in MN, Dave serves on the board of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition and his family is heavily involved with Transforming Families MN.

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SUBMIT QUESTIONS FOR THE DAA PANELISTS

 


“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of (the person), the enhancement of (their) value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”

Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace