Event Speakers

We are pleased to offer the following break out sessions for our September 3 event.  If you joined us in August, 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.

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.  (This session is a repeat from the Aug. 4 event. Anyone who previously attended this session is encouraged to engage in a different session to continue their growth in this field.)


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. 

Social Justice in the Curriculum: Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy for Young Learners 

This session explores how culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) can inform Integrative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (iSTEM) curriculum for young children who are culturally diverse and/or living in poverty conditions. Research has given little to no attention to how iSTEM relates to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy for young children. In other words, this research addresses two gaps in educational research: a) iSTEM for Pre-K and b) Culturally Relevant iSTEM curriculum for diverse learners. This research is particularly significant for several reasons. The National Association for the Education of Young Children asserts that not only are children natural scientists but also iSTEM subjects offer many opportunities for children to use their minds and hands to play, explore, and learn. Moreover, research indicates that providing young children with iSTEM content has shown to enhance potential school success. These experiences also can be a predictor of children’s lifelong career success. Despite the fact that iSTEM holds such potential for young children it has received little attention in scholarly literature. Likewise, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is particularly significant in reaching and teaching historically underserved children (e.g. culturally, linguistically, racially, socioeconomically diverse, etc.). 


Sharon Brusic is a professor at Millersville University in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology where she primarily works with the teacher preparation students in Technology & Engineering Education (grades Pre-K-12) and Integrative STEM Education Methods (grades PreK-4). Her research interests focus on STEM education, especially how to best prepare teachers to build their competence and confidence with these subjects. She was recently involved in helping to revise state and national standards associated with STEM education. She is the author of several nonfiction children’s books and numerous articles and presentations associated with integrative learning, STEM education, Technology & Engineering Education, and related topics.  

Dr. Beth Powers is an Associate Professor of Early, Middle, & Exceptional Education at Millers University. Her teaching research, and service, are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her current scholarly projects are focused on culturally relevant pedagogy in the areas of STEM and classroom management. She is also currently collaborating on a project, that provides vetted resources for families and educators, with the other presenting authors and additional colleagues (Dr. Karena Rush, MU Associate Professor of Psychology, and Mr. Kevin Bower, Adjunct Professor of Education Foundations & Teacher in the Hempfield School District) titled, Connectionspot.org. This website includes vetted resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers of children age birth-25 that relate to a variety of subjects including COVID-19, race, racism, and STEM subjects. Dr. Powers has been an educational professional for 30 years and has worked with children, families, in-service and pre-service teachers across the U.S. (CA, NC, NH, PA) and the world (Thailand, Zimbabwe, &  South Africa).

Lauren McNeely is a recent Post Baccalaureate and Masters graduate in Early Childhood Education, and a current elementary school teacher. In 2010 she obtained her Business Degree from West Virginia University and spent 8 years in the Finance Industry. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, three fur children and a little one of her own on the way! 

Taking the First Step to Anti-Oppressive Teaching 

We know from Ibram Kendi and Kevin Kumashiro that it’s not enough to be not racist-sexist-homophobic-ableist;  we must be affirmatively (and actively) “anti-oppressive” in our educational practice.  But how do I get there?  The first step — the step that makes all the reading and resources make sense — is to learn to be “pulled up short.”  Being pulled up short occurs when I recognize that my taken-for-granted horizons of understanding are impacting my interactions with students and families in ways that limit student growth.  How does this happen?  And how can I welcome it as part of my growth toward anti-oppressive teaching?  


Barb Stengel is a former MU Professor of Educational Foundations (1985-2010) and a former Vanderbilt University Professor of the Practice of Education (2010-2019). At both institutions, Dr. Stengel led efforts to educate teachers for urban schools through “residency” type partnerships with SDL and Metro Nashville Public Schools.  She is the author (with Elizabeth Self) of Toward Anti-Oppressive Teaching to be published by Harvard Education Press this fall.

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. 

Multipartiality: Critical Facilitation Connecting Personal Experiences to Structural Inequities 

Creating inclusive environments requires educators to recognize and deal with the dominant narratives and power asymmetry present in every setting. This workshop will share the dialogue approach and necessary skills of inquiry, counter-narratives, and empathy needed to balance social power within groups; a process referred to as multipartialityMultipartiality is an intentional “push back” against the dominant narrative while simultaneously inviting and valuing the participation of members from the dominant group. 


Dr. Karen Rice is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of the School of Social Work at Millersville University of PA. She is trained in Intergroup Dialogue and for the past 13 years has applied this model in youth programs she developed and within her courses she teaches. She also trains others in the dialogue process and how to facilitate dialogue to foster critical consciousness and effect positive social change. 

J Whitlow, pronouns: they/them is originally from Louisville, KY and currently serves as the Inaugural Director of the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center at Millersville University. J holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University Kentucky and a MS.Ed in College Student Personnel from the University of Dayton. In their role at Millersville University, they provide various opportunities to engage in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work through leadership and identity development. Outside of MU, J serves on the leadership team for Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. Whitlow’s passion for social justice comes from their lived experiences as a Black, Queer, Non-Binary Person and strives daily to create spaces where individuals can live in their truth. Whitlow is unapologetic about their radical approach to naming and affirming marginalized identities and the ways in which our current systems and structures continue to oppress and silence identities and communities.