As we emerge from the shadow of lockdowns and quarantines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is heartwarming to be able to gather among peers at conferences that address issues that Horizons Colorado works on, namely advancing educational equity for students hailing from under-resourced communities and schools. In mid-January, a group of Horizons staff and students was fortunate to attend the 16th annual Educating Children of Color Summit. Held on the campus of Colorado College, the conference brings education, juvenile justice, and child welfare professionals and parents together from across the United States to learn about different ways we can better prepare our students so that they can move past barriers and actualize their dreams. High school students are also encouraged to attend the conference, which culminates in the awarding of over $150,000 in scholarships to students who apply and are selected.
The one-day summit was jam-packed with various workshops, ranging from “Creating LGBTQ-Affirming Schools in the Current Era” to “Eradicating Childhood/Youth Homelessness” and much more. Our students spent the day together and concurrently attended their own series of workshops. The keynote speaker, Chris Singleton, left everyone in the packed auditorium in awe and speechless with his “Love is Stronger than Hate” message. As a renowned motivational speaker, Chris has made it his life’s work to unify our country and make racism obsolete.
The Horizons staff split up and attended different workshops. All of the workshops that I attended were well thought out and incredibly informative. “Social Emotional Learning Implementation Methods for Educators” was brimming with information that I am excited to implement during our summer program. “Disrupting the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Through Thoughtful Literacy Engagement Practice” was led by five dynamic educational thought leaders from Texas who had a wealth of knowledge and experience. The same group led the interactive workshop “Thinking About Implicit Bias Through the Cultural Competence Lens,” which prompted rich conversation and exchange amongst participants.
On the bus ride home, we were buzzing with conversation, sharing what we had learned. The students who attended were very grateful for the opportunity, and we are all looking forward to attending again next year! After experiencing the isolation of COVID-19, it is so refreshing to be able to once again learn from others how best to work with our Horizons students and provide them with all of the necessary tools to open doors and access opportunities that will make an impact in their lives.