Event Speakers

We are pleased to offer the following break out sessions for our next event.  If you joined us before, welcome back.  If you are new to the group, welcome.  We are happy you are here. 

We have created this program to be deliberately scaffolded.  There is a session for people newer to social justice education, other sessions for those just dipping their toes into this field, and even sessions for veterans of this critical work. Regardless of your position on your social justice journey we hope to provide meaningful support to you. 

How to Read Like an AntiRacist

In this presentation, titled “How to Read Like an AntiRacist,” Ariel will discuss fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults that focus on antiracism.  Books that will be discussed will highlight #ownvoices.  #Ownvoices, is a term coined by writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to books written by authors of marginalized or under-represented communities whose characters share the same or similar experiences. 

How to Read Like an AntiRacist



Ariel Franchak is a reading specialist who is spending the 2020-2021 at home with her children, helping them navigate online learning.  Previously she worked for the Capital Area Intermediate Unit, providing reading instruction to students in grades 5-8 at Milton Hershey School.  She is one of the organizers of #nErDCampPA, an Ed Camp focused on literacy for teachers, librarians, authors and illustrators.  She is also a member of #LitReviewCrew, a group of educators across the country, who read and review children’s literature.  Ariel is continuously striving to be an antiracist educator and is always trying to “do the work” by reading, learning, sharing and advocating as much as possible.  In addition to being a certified reading specialist, Ariel also holds certificates in Elementary Education and Special Education.  Ariel holds a master’s degree from The College of New Jersey and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  She was previously a special education teacher for East Pennsboro Area School District.  Originally from Bucks County PA, Ariel currently lives in Enola with her husband, two children, two cats and four fish. Follow her on Twitter at @Afranchak.

Systemic Approaches to Equity and Teacher Support: From Theory to Practice

In this session, we will take a systemic and ecological approach to viewing equity issues from theory to practice, from the prospective of a state-level equity consultant, a school psychologist, and a consultation researcher and trainer. First, we will take a macrosystem view by reviewing state-level equity issues and initiatives in Pennsylvania, exploring the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Pillars of Practice and new Equity Hub tool. Then, we will drill down to a mesosystem view of the importance of building capacity for equitable school-level practices by understanding, disrupting, and divesting from policies and practices that devalue certain student groups. Finally, we will explore a microsystem approach and framework for supporting teachers to address equity issues in the classroom and enhance culturally responsive practices. An overview of the Double Check Coaching model will be provided. There will be time for questions and discussion with the presenters.


Nikole Y. Hollins-Sims, Ed.D., is an educational consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)-Harrisburg Office. She currently serves as the co-statewide lead for the Behavior initiative, as well as an active member of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) initiative. In addition, she is the statewide lead for equitable practices in partnership with the office of safe schools for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Dr. Hollins-Sims is also involved in the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) with a focus on increasing the graduation rates of students with disabilities. Finally, Dr. Hollins-Sims is a Pennsylvania certified school psychologist with a specific interest in social justice. She has also conducted research around caregivers of children of incarcerated parents and their motivation to engage in family-school partnerships.

Amber M. Sessoms, Ed.D., is a nationally certified school psychologist and facilitator, who has always been driven by her passion for giving voice to our historically marginalized groups as a conduit to guide all individuals in meaningful interrogation of the status quo. Dr. Sessoms earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Psychology from Millersville University, where she currently serves on the Council of Trustees. She also graduated with her Ed.D. in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education from Penn State, where her research focused on Black feminist perspectives of critical race theory within critical public pedagogy. Currently, she serves as a school psychologist and department chair for Central Dauphin School District. Dr. Sessoms was an inaugural recipient of the 2017 Community Courage in Action Award by the Community Responder’s Network and the recipient of her district’s 2017 Educator of the Year award in part for her work in creating student-led dialogue and culturally-responsive education to make visible the ways in which everyday microaggressions reinforce difference.

Lauren Kaiser, Ph.D., NCSP, is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School Psychology Program at Millersville University, specializing in consultation and coaching training. She is an approved trainer of Instructional Consultation and Assessment Teams (ICAT Resources) and co-author with Dr. Sylvia Rosenfield of a chapter on Instructional Consultation in the forthcoming book, The Desk Reference in School Psychology. Dr. Kaiser also spent five-years as a trainer and coach with the Double Check Coaching model, an evidence-based culturally responsive teaching and student engagement coaching model.

Developing Culturally Inclusive Classrooms: Implications for Educators’ Understanding of Religious Diversity in K-12 Classrooms

The increase in diversity is a reality in American society and is changing the demographic composition of public schools in the U.S. In the early treatment of multicultural education, religion was seldom if ever addressed as one of the prominent microcultures influencing a student’s perceptions and behaviors. Religion is likely as important in shaping an individual’s persona as gender, class or ethnicity. The religious pluralism of the school in which one teaches will be determined, in a great part, by the school’s geographic region of the United States. There’s a critical need for educators to be culturally inclusive by being sensitive to religious backgrounds of student’s composition in their classroom, thereby enabling them to create culturally inclusive classrooms both in theory and practice. In this presentation we will provide educators with the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their practices in terms of creating a culturally inclusive classroom where every student would feel welcomed as a member of the classroom community.


Dr. Abdulsalami Ibrahim is an Assistant Professor of Education (Instructional Technology) at Millersville University. Dr. Ibrahim’s diverse teaching assignments throughout his decade-long career have given him the ability to work closely with a diverse group of students, families, and administrators. He was a secondary school science teacher and a teacher educator in Nigeria. He served as a teaching associate for two years in the department of professional studies in education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ibrahim’s background in teacher education stirred his research interest in science education, technology integration, multicultural instructional methods, culturally relevant and sustainable strategies, and mixed method research.

Samantha Waldman is a second-grade teacher in the East Pennsboro Area School District. As an alumna of Millersville University, Samantha grew passionate about culturally inclusive pedagogy and positive learning environments for all students. Samantha invested in her passion by serving as a mentor in the Color of Teaching Mentoring Program, presenting at the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education Conference, and working as a research assistant with Dr. Miriam Witmer in the Educational Foundations Department at Millersville.

Samantha now works to take the valuable lessons she learned from these experiences and apply them to her own elementary school classroom.

“Doing (and Designing) School” in the Service of Social Justice 

School structures – including curriculum, student grouping, staffing, time schedules, discipline policies, and so much more – can serve or disrupt possibilities for social justice generally, and racial justice in particular.  But these structures cannot be imposed on schools; they can only emerge through the collaboration of leaders, teachers, and others.  In this session, three collaborators share their work together at Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School in Nashville, TN, a school reconstructed around a commitment to the capacities of marginalized and minoritized students, and marked by an understanding of urban teaching as a ‘team sport,’ shared autonomy/responsibility focused on teacher leadership, expanding relational capacity with teacher residents, culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum, and all adults, no matter their role, as warm demanders and co-learners.  Session participants will have an opportunity to think about their own school settings in light of the collaborators’ experience.


Dr. Christian Sawyer, Principal, Hamilton Middle School, Denver, CO

 Ms. Whitney Weathers, Assistant Principal, Manual High School, Denver, CO

Dr. Barbara Stengel, Professor Emerita, Vanderbilt University and Millersville University