PD: Supporting Cultural and Gender Diversity

Tarlan Ahmadov and Hannah DeAngelis from Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services speaking with Breakwater faculty and staff on Friday, January 27, 2017. "New Home" artwork by Johana Rivera ('17) and Gaia Ayres ('16).

Tarlan Ahmadov and Hannah DeAngelis from Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services speaking with Breakwater faculty and staff on Friday, January 27, 2017. "New Home" artwork by Johana Rivera ('17) and Gaia Ayres ('16).

Breakwater’s Mission is to engage our students in an optimal learning experience that inspires them to live well on the planet, embrace their whole being, and realize their full potential. We accomplish this by continually reviewing and applying best educational practice while remaining true to our community’s values and spirit.

We believe that the diversity of our community enhances our ability to implement our Mission. We are fully committed to developing a continual, productive dialogue that deals with issues of diversity, and encourages students and faculty to talk openly and effectively about complex, sensitive and sometimes difficult issues. To open an intentional dialogue around how we actively acknowledge and support each student at Breakwater, faculty recently engaged in two professional development trainings - the first with Equality Maine and the second conducted by Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services.

Both trainings sparked meaningful reflection on how cultural competence and gender equality in classroom instruction is practiced, and how Breakwater can improve to an even greater extent the positive actions, policies and statements that serve children, their families, and our communities. 

Given its importance to creating just, inclusive and cohesive societies, as well as its role in supporting individuals to fulfill their potential in the absence of discriminatory barriers, promoting gender equality and recognizing the changing understandings of gender is part of our mandate as teachers. So, too, are the ways in which we actively seek out certain personal and interpersonal experiences that taken together underlie effective, culturally responsive teaching.

Cultural competence, absence of bias in teaching, and gender awareness doesn't occur as a result of a single day of training, or reading a book, or taking a course. Educators become competent over time. Our Breakwater community of educators has a significant history of continually striving to do our very best to live our Mission, both personally and as an institution, and will continue to actively seek ways to improve our ability to apply best educational practice with compassion for humankind, and care for the world we inhabit.