Cultural Diversity Professional Development for Teachers

In December of 2016, the MERC Policy and Planning Council supported the establishment of a study team to begin the work of developing ideas for research related to Cultural Diversity Professional Development across the Richmond metropolitan area. The purpose of this study is to understand cultural diversity within our schools and to explore professional development that will equip educators with tools to help them engage with students from various backgrounds. The direction of this study includes an interest in the following areas:

  1. Are there best practices that could be implemented throughout the region to address cultural diversity and the changing demographics of our region?
  2. In what ways do stakeholders’ perceptions of cultural diversity influence teacher practices, receptiveness, and response to cultural diversity professional development?
  3. How are implicit biases displayed through teacher actions during instruction and / or interactions with students? Are there effective professional developments available to teach adults to become aware of and self-correct for their implicit biases?
  4. What do teachers, students, administration, and parents / community members identify as areas for growth in teaching culturally diverse learners?
  5. What is the current landscape of cultural diversity professional development in the Richmond Metropolitan area, and which professional development programs are effective?

Final research questions will be solidified over the summer and proposed in the Fall of 2017.

Listen to the Podcast

Learn more about the study through Episode 5 of Abstract, featuring a conversation with members of the Cultural Diversity Professional Development for Teachers study team!

Diversity Mapping Project










In conjunction with the current work on developing the study, a team of VCU graduate students (listed below) is working on a diversity mapping project with the goal of understanding what diversity looks like across Region 1 and how it has changed over the past 10 years. It is evident through this work that Region 1 schools are serving an increasingly diverse student body (see map above). The team will explore demographic change at the school level with the hope is that this work will allow school divisions to identify which schools are experiencing the most rapid demographic change. Identification of these schools may serve as an additional indicator of which schools are in need of support around cultural diversity professional development.

Diversity Mapping Team Members:
Fatemah Khawajifa
Tonya Gokita
Vivian Vitullo
Ashlee Lester

Research Team

Julie Gorlewski – Co-Principal Investigator, Department of Teaching and Learning, VCU
Hillary Parkhouse– Co-Principal Investigator, Department of Teaching and Learning, VCU
Jesse Senechal – Co-Principal Investigator, Department of Foundations of Education, MERC, VCU
Ashlee Lester – Graduate Research Assistant, MERC, VCU

Study Team

Cara Jean O’Neal – School Psychologist, Henrico County Public Schools
Jaime Stacy – Associate Principal, John Rolfe Middle, Henrico County Public Schools
Tameshia Grimes – Assistant Director of Student Support Services, Chesterfield County Public Schools
Akeda Pearson-Stenbar – Coordinator of Professional Development, Richmond Public Schools
Amie Potter – Assistant Principal, Goochland County Public Schools
Amy Thompson – Head of Professional Development, Hanover County Public Schools
Brian Maltby – Assistant Principal, Chickahominy Middle, Hanover County Public Schools
Emily Garcia – School Counselor, Lee Davis High School, Hanover County Public Schools
Jake Reynolds – Instructional Specialist / Math Coach, Colonial Heights Public Schools
Jennifer Rucker – Principal, Goochland Middle, Goochland County Public Schools
Joshua Cole – Principal, Ecoff Elementary, Chesterfield County Public Schools
Laura Faulcon – Assistant Principal, James River High, Chesterfield County Public Schools
Lynn Clayton-Prince – Co-Principal, Pocahontas Middle: Powhatan Public Schools
Matthew Mason – Assistant Principal, Goochland High, Goochland County Public Schools
Rachel Wilborn– Assistant Principal, Goochland High, Goochland County Public Schools
Travis Ridley – Principal, North Elementary, Colonial Heights Public Schools
Mike Massa – Principal, Powhatan High, Powhatan Public Schools

Read the research brief

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