The Maryland Multicultural Coalition (MMC) will host its annual spring conference Saturday in the Blair SAC from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. MMC is a local chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), a volunteer-driven organization that advocates for equity and social justice in education.
The conference, which takes place in a different Maryland school system each year, strives to educate Maryland teachers about multicultural issues in school environments, according to Director of Equity Training and Development Donna Graves. MMC board members met with the Equity Training and Development Team in the Office of Organizational Development to plan the conference, choosing the theme of Achieving Equity through Passion, Practice and Persistence. Other states hold comparable regional events and there is one culminating national NAME conference, according to Graves. This is the first time an MCPS school was chosen as a venue for an MCC conference.
Conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn about multicultural programs in group breakout sessions at two points during the conference. In each time slot, there will be 16 different presentations participants can choose to attend. MCPS staff and professors from George Mason University, Hood College and Montgomery College will host sessions on topics such as cultural stereotypes, family partnerships and ESOL teaching strategies. "The conference provides vital opportunities for Maryland educators to participate in workshops highlighting exemplary programs across the state, as well as to share resources and information with colleagues," Graves said.
Event participants include college students, educational staff from each county invited by superintendents, college professors from several states and local multicultural activists and consultants, according to Graves. No Blair teachers will be attending, according to Blair's Community Building Use Secretary Carrie Addison.
The event will begin with a breakfast and a performance from Blair's Red Line Quintet along Blair Boulevard. The conference will follow in the SAC with opening remarks from Principal Darryl Williams, MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast and MCC Vice President Bonnie Brownell. After messages from Graves and keynote speaker Ginny Gong, Director of the MCPS Interagency Coordinating Board, the breakout sessions will ensue in first floor classrooms.
Members of Blair Ambassadors will serve as greeters and chaperones for the conference, according to Graves. Lunch will also be provided for event attendees.
Graves stressed the importance of MCC's multicultural conference. "This is the single statewide event that focuses specifically on multicultural and equity issues impacting success and academic achievement for all of Maryland's students," she said.