PHILADELPHIA, PA — This year, the School District of Philadelphia is hosting a series of professional development opportunities aimed at supporting equity in education. The paid professional development opportunities, which began in September, are optional and will take place virtually. Each session will focus on providing teachers with the knowledge and subject matter expertise to teach different cultures and histories to students.

“We understand that each teacher brings their own racial and cultural background into the classroom, so these optional professional development opportunities are intended to provide teachers with subject content and exposure to different voices so they can provide welcoming and inclusive environments and deliver on the objectives of our coursework,” said Malika Savoy-Brooks, Ed.D., Chief Academic Support Officer of the School District of Philadelphia. “Teachers will walk away from these professional development opportunities with best practices that can impact their teaching throughout all content areas.”

According to Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson, Deputy Chief of Curriculum and Instruction, the professional development sessions were created with the intention of helping all teachers gain a greater understanding of the importance of racial equity.

“These sessions, while optional, provide space for educators to authentically engage with content designed to shift their consciousness and practices in the classroom,” said Dr. Francis-Thompson. “These sessions also leverage internal and external expertise as some of the facilitators are School District of Philadelphia teachers.”

In 2005, the School District of Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to require African American History as a graduation requirement for all high school students. The course covers a variety topics including classical African civilizations, race, slavery, and the abolition movement and Civil War. This year, the District launched a new African American History Teacher Leadership Cohort. Led by Ismael Jimenez, a Social Studies Curriculum Specialist for the School District of Philadelphia, this cohort includes six educators who will be mentoring teachers and curating professional development opportunities with best practices throughout the year to support instructors of the African American History course. Although some of the new professional development offerings were created as a way to support teachers of these courses, any teacher throughout the District can participate.

The next professional development opportunity takes place on Saturday, December 11 and focuses on creating educational environments that are empathetic and caring to Native Americans from across the Americas. This event is a partnership with Indigenous Peoples’ Day Philly, who will be facilitating the workshop on centering the Indigenous voice.

Additional opportunities will be available for teachers throughout the year. These equity-focused professional development events highlight the District’s commitment to anti racism, providing the structure, strategic guidance, and organizational leadership needed to redesign a more equitable school district.