Event Speakers

We are pleased to offer the following break out sessions for our October 1 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 brand new 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.

Unpacking the Pyramid of Racism 

Please join me as we unpack the Pyramid of Racism and consider how each of us can be a change agent for justice. Participants will receive a list of resources you can reference as you continue your social justice journey. Understanding is the first step in making personal and community changes. In this workshop we will dialogue about the layers of racism that exist in our society, explore various ways you can engage your students in the important dialogue about racism, and consider your personal, concrete goals toward becoming an antiracist educator. #IPledgeToBeBetter 


Miriam Marguerita Gomez Witmer, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Foundations department at Millersville University where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in social foundations of education and content literacy for English language learners. She is the co-founder of Project Teacher Development and the Social Justice Collective at Millersville University. She will be facilitating the Educators of Color Affinity Group for the Social Justice Collective. Her research interests focus on social justice in education, mentoring, and diversifying the teacher workforce.  

Let’s Start at the Beginning: Social Justice Pedagogy in Early Childhood

Much of the research on social justice pedagogy has been focused on children in upper elementary, middle, or high school. Necessary as this work is, it often emphasizes the need to unlearn over a decade of biased or inaccurate instruction. In this workshop, we discuss what it might look like for children to start their schooling with accurate portrayals of history, positive representation in curricula, and equitable experiences of discipline. Essentially, we will be asking this challenging but essential question: What can it look like for the very youngest learners to engage with social justice?


Sarah Jackson, PhD, teaches in the Department of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education at Millersville University. She researches how the youngest readers and writers can engage in humanizing and anti-racist work, particularly through creative pedagogies.

The Poetry of My Experience

I think that we operate under the mistaken assumption that achieving equity is the work of changing hearts and minds: of getting people to admit to their inherent biases and strive to change. To some extent, that is true.  However, I think that we will have more success if we are more intentional in our efforts to make sure that our students not only have role models who look like them but that we also take advantage of each teachable moment that presents itself to us.  The poems that make up this presentation had their genesis in such moments and were shared with students during such moments.  I hope that they speak to you and allow you to pause and take advantage of those teachable moments your own students will present to you.


Howard P. Hanson still remembers being a little barefoot boy growing up in Jamaica more than sixty years ago. Since then, he has traveled the world, been a desegregation consultant, truck driver, zookeeper, electronics store manager, graphic artist/designer, photographer, teacher, parent, and grandfather. He is currently the Assistant Principal at J. P. McCaskey High School Campus in the School District of Lancaster. Teaching is, and has always been his first love. Poetry runs a close second – because it provides an outlet for his inner conflicts and allows him to speak on issues near and dear to his heart.

Do Better: Moving Social Justice Effort from the Personal to the Systemic

2020 has awakened many to the realities racial oppression, injustice, and bias-laden anxiety BIPOC face every day in America.  With this new level of “woke,” many have consumed pounds of historic, legal, experiential, and biographic content in order to fill knowledge voids.  These days, ignorance does not seem to offer bliss and in some cases may quickly cause some to succumb to cancel culture.  One look at the New York Times bestsellers list in recent weeks would denote a yearning…support…or maybe authentic zeal to know.  Such efforts, however, are woefully inadequate in the restructuring, reimagining, and yet realized hopes for those invested in social justice, particularly in education.  Now that you know, what’s next?  Marrying equity-based and culturally sustaining ideologies (Ladson-Billings, 2014; Nieto 2015) with narrative theory, this workshop explores practical and differentiated ways for educators to shift from knowledge consumption to active systemic change.  


Nakeiha Primus Smith, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where she prepares future educators in a wide variety of degree programs.  She is also Faculty Coordinator for the B.A./B.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Tufts University, a Master of Arts in Teaching English Education from Duke University, and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Delaware. Her academic research explores the synergies found in storytelling, curriculum theory, teacher identity, and equity in education. 

Social Justice in Children’s Literature: From the Margins to the Center

While strides have been made in the fight to publish and promote diverse books, teachers still struggle to find, critique, and share literature that goes beyond celebrating differences. What can teachers do to ensure their classrooms feature books that decenter whiteness and invite critical conversations around anti-racism, social justice, and empowerment?  This session will focus on the ways diverse books can transform the curriculum by offering opportunities to explore identities and advance social justice. Resources for finding quality diverse books that that move beyond inclusion to action will be shared.



Dr. Colabucci teaches classes in children’s literature at Millersville University. Her forthcoming book is titled Books As Partners: Diverse Books in the Early Childhood Classroom. 

Sport as Conduit for Discussions on Social Justice  

This session explores the different ways that sport is used as an expression of identity, human rights, and citizenship; and how sports both challenge and reinforce gender and racial norms such as in the example of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory which highlighted patterns of unequal pay for female athletes; and how sport can be used as a platform to protest racial injusticefrom the 1968 Summer Olympics Black Power protest by African-American track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos to more recent social justice activism by professional football player Colin Kaepernick.  Drawing on these and other cases, this session also discusses sports through an international relations lens including African-American sprinter Jesse Owens’ participation at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany, Olympic boycotts during the 1980s, and today’s Olympic athletes’ participation on behalf of nations which they were not born.   


Jeffrey Wimer, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wellness and Sport Sciences at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where he teaches a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses in athletic training, sport management, wellness, and research methods.  Before relocating to Millersville he held tenured positions at the University of Charleston (WV) and Wilmington College (OH).  Dr. Wimer earned his teaching credential in K-12 Health Education from Slippery Rock University.