Continuing a long-standing partnership, Bergen County Technical Schools in New Jersey joined forces with Guttman Community College faculty in an effort to create a more equitable and inclusive high school experience for students. Guttman’s experts have offered insight and training in areas of race literacy, gender equity, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) to the New Jersey schools. The partnership will aid the district’s secondary programs serving over 2,500 students in five high schools across the county, each offering a wide array of career majors in addition to rigorous academics.
Guttman Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Mary Gatta was invited to undertake a gender equity assessment of some of Bergen Tech’s technical programs. She also developed follow-up professional development to begin to address gender bias in the curriculum and co-curriculum. Organized by Dr. Gatta and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Niesha Ziehmke, a team of Guttman faculty – Dr. Marcus Allen, Dr. Lori Ungemah, and Dr. Grace Pai – developed an excellent and impactful CRP workshop for Bergen Tech teachers. Following this work, Dr. Karen Williams worked with Bergen to create a video tutorial on Confidentiality and Personal Pronouns for teachers. During the 2021-2022 academic year, Dr. Marcus Allen & Mr. Douglas Medina will take lead on deepening the Bergen Tech partnership further by co-creating a professional development series with Bergen Tech faculty leaders who will offer long-term support for more equitable and inclusive Bergen campuses. The series will provide a toolkit that includes an overview of CRP, challenging assumptions about teacher and student-centered pedagogy, examining the role of the instructor, and engaging mindset theory through small group activities.
Richard Panicucci, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Bergen County Technical Schools, said of the partnership: “The support that we have received from our partners at CUNY has guided us to build on this work on implicit bias and reexamine our curriculum in subjects like history and literature through a more equitable lens.” Dean Ziehmke further encouraged the collaboration: “Bergen leadership and teachers have been outstanding partners in the critical work of developing more equitable educational experiences for their high school students. They consistently show a deep commitment to this evolving work and are so appreciative of our faculty’s expertise in this area.”