DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION STATEMENT
Statement on how the applicant will contribute to the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, including applicant’s knowledge of and experience with inclusive pedagogical practices in classroom teaching, advising, and mentoring.
Being kind and having empathy goes a long way in this world.
I have taught at Palm Beach State for nearly ten years and our students come from all social classes, religions, speak several languages, have gender differences (including LGBTQ), cultural, ethnicities, and physical differences. My campus racial makeup is currently 31.1% White, 31.0 Hispanic, 29.8 Black. (see link below for graph) My classroom is diverse. It’s going to sound like a cliché or job interview question but I honestly don’t judge people on how they look. They are in my classroom to learn.
As one of eleven children, I came from a low income family. People often judged me on the behavior of my siblings. Having taught in such a diverse community I have encountered:
• Trans-gender students who have a female name on the roster but wish to be addressed as a male. Easy fix: Nadia was addressed as Noah. And Phillip became Phoenix. Especially in the art world, we encounter people who express themselves in non-traditional ways. It’s important to understand that we are all different.
• I have had students who ride their bike to school and the bike was stolen. Solution: I found a cheap bike at Walmart. And after that we wheeled the bike onto the courtyard adjacent to the classroom where it would be safer. I have no problem when a student rolls their bike right into the classroom. (there is space) I don’t feel that a student shouldn’t have to drop out of school because they don’t own a car and their bike was stolen. As John Lennon said “there’s no problems only solutions”.
• I have encountered students who could not afford the textbook so I always put several reserve copies in the library so they can read the book outside of class.
• If their financial aid hasn’t kicked in and they can’t afford the art supplies I have my stash of materials that I share until everyone gets theirs. I am there to help them succeed. And at the end of the term if a student doesn’t need the materials they donate to my hoard.
• The President and Provost ask my design students to create Christmas cards. However, over the years I had a handful of Jehovah’s Witnesses enrolled and they stated they did not celebrate holidays and that it went against their religion to design holiday cards. Simple solution: they could instead make a generic card for the Provost or President that promotes the college and not a holiday. I also explained to them that most bosses would probably have an issue with them not doing the job they were hired for. Which lead to great discussion on ethics and being true to one’s self.
The point of these examples is I believe in solutions. Too often in life hurdles are thrown in our path and we can find ways to be a part of the problem or the solution. Being kind is a big part of teaching a diverse student body.
As a professor my students have taught me how one simple act of kindness can transform their lives. A lot of the time it’s not even something I remember doing, but to them it meant an awful lot.