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August 07, 2017 06:04 PM

Providing Equal Access To Education In Sioux Falls

School is just four weeks away in the Sioux Falls district.  Some teachers and administrators are preparing this week by talking about the different biases that can arise when it comes to certain students. Whether it's race, ability or gender identity, this week's sessions are about creating equal access to education for each student regardless of background. 

Patty Vincent is the Principal at JFK Elementary. She's here with colleagues identifying reasons why teachers can sometimes struggle to get through to certain students. 

"Becoming aware of personal things, biases maybe you weren't aware of that come out in ways in a classroom to change that," Vincent said. 

From poverty to language barriers, special needs and gender identity, these educators are encouraging each other to continue to open their minds to kids with a variety of backgrounds and avoid discrimination. 

"How can we help those kids? How can we recognize the challenges that they face in their day-to-day lives? And how can we really make us aware as a group of teachers about what we can do," McAdaragh said. 

Teachers and administrators will be training at IPC for the next four days and they'll be covering topics that might be uncomfortable to talk about. 

"Sometimes it's really tough, challenging things. We tell teachers, 'This may be uncomfortable. You're going to be reflecting. You're going to walk out of here at the end of the day, you might have a funny feeling in your stomach. You might just really be uncomfortable, but that's okay.' We just need to wrestle with those problems and get them out in the open rather than pretending they don't exist," McAdaragh said. 

In the end, it's important to keep pushing students to achieve academic success regardless of social and economic challenges. 

"Don't give up and making adjustments in the classroom and the school as a whole and just the whole culture of the school in a more positive way," Vincent said. 

The annual training wraps up on Thursday. School starts in Sioux Falls on September 5.

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