Event Speakers

We are pleased to offer the following break out sessions for our February 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. 

Anti-Racist Education 101

This session is designed for people who are new to social justice work.  Vital concepts such as oppression, priviledge, and identity will be explored at both the macro-societal level and the intimate classroom level.  Basic definitions of anti-racism (Kendi, 2019)  will be shared, and we will begin to define the necessary steps it takes to become an anti-racist educator. This session is appropriate for all teachers, prek-12.  


Dr. Jennie Burke is an assistant professor in the Department of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education at Millersville University.  Twelve years of teaching in a diverse public elementary school in central New Jersey fostered her profound interest in the possibility for social justice through education.  Her current research explores how elementary children engage with critical curricula designed to encourage them to examine the role race and gender play in their daily lives.  She is one of the co-founders of this Social Justice for Educators Summit, and the current chair of Millersville’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women. 

Working with Transgender and Non-Binary Students

 It is the public school’s responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory education experience for all students. Schools are faced with navigating the needs of the LGBTQ+ Community, including best practices for supporting transgender and non-binary students. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQ+ or LGBTQQIA+)* people have existed in society for all of recorded time. Understanding LGBTQ+ history is a crucial part of being an effective ally. Part of the misconceptions around LGBTQ+ people is the blending of terms around gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation. All four are distinctly different, function on a spectrum, and are innate qualities that people may understand differently throughout their lifetimes. While there are federal and state protections for students, there remain holes in the systems that should protect LGBTQ+ students and it’s the responsibility of adults to make sure they are protected.


Sherri Castillo is a doctoral student in the Education Policy and Planning Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on LGBTQ+ issues of equity in K-12 public education systems, specifically policies that protect the rights of transgender and non-binary students. Sherri’s work has been published in Principal Leadership Magazine and presented at NCTE.

Presenters for Social Justice Starts with Our Youth 

Developing Social Identity and Awareness Through Activities Implemented in a Sixth Grade Classroom

This presentation will share work done in a homogeneous, white sixth-grade classroom to explore ideas of social identity and awareness. The presenter shares literature, discussion topics, writing activities, and student samples that were collected from this experience.  Lessons learned from the presentation can be applied to 2nd through 8th grades. 



Dr. Aileen Hower is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and the Graduate Coordinator for the Masters in Language and Literacy with a Reading or ESL concentration at Millersville University where she also runs an annual Summer Literacy Institute on Writing. She is a National Writing Project Fellow through the Capital Area Writing Project at Penn State University, Harrisburg, and the past president for the Keystone State Literacy Association, the state affiliate of the International Literacy Association.