Educators explore teaching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s radical side during virtual discussion

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Photo RUSD:  Werner Elementary School Principal Ayanna Ibrahim-Balogun (above), Assistant Principal Emily Dominguez, and Instructional Strategist Vanessa McParland took part in the “Exploring the Radical Side of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." virtual dialogue on Tuesday afternoon. The event was hosted by the University of Redlands.
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Leading an important dialogue, members of the Werner Elementary School staff took part in a dialogue about how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is discussed in the classroom on Tuesday afternoon. 

Werner Elementary School Principal Ayanna Ibrahim-Balogun, Assistant Principal Emily Dominguez, and Instructional Strategist Vanessa McParland took part in the “Exploring the Radical Side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” virtual dialogue. The session was part of a series of events on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put on by the University of Redlands. The University’s School of Education, Center for Educational Justice held three dialogue sessions Tuesday. University of Redlands professor Jose Lalas and Ibrahim-Balogun co-facilitated the discussion. 

The panel touched on how educators can approach the radical side of Dr. King within the classroom. Although teaching that side of Dr. King’s message has often been avoided, Ibrahim-Balogun said that is changing. 

“Now we are at a time in this world where we can really understand and be willing to accept the radical King,” Ibrahim-Balogun said during the session. “I don’t think that in the past folks, and especially folks in education, were ready to understand or accept and appreciate that side.”

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The panel, which also included Bloomington High School Assistant Principal Heidi Strikwerda and Eleanor Roosevelt High School English teacher Frank Mata, agreed that part of the work of educating students starts with educating teachers. 

“We have to pass the shallow understanding that we have on (Dr. King),” Dominguez said. “We do have the capacity (to do that). There’s no reason in this day in age that any of us should have a shallow understanding of his ideals. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. There’s no reason for any of that. More than anything, we have to educate ourselves so that we are able to do that for our kids.”

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