• MSJ: Aiming to be a beacon for diversity
    By Cristina Kumka
    STAFF WRITER | November 15,2012
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    A private foundation has granted Mount St. Joseph Academy $2,500 to train its teachers in diversity and bias reduction.

    The Jane's Trust Foundation supports community causes in Vermont and is administered through the Vermont Community Foundation's Small and Inspiring Grants program. It recently granted more than $100,000 to the construction of the Rutland Creek Path.

    At the private Catholic high school, teachers have begun training to get to know their school climate and the role they play in the community when it comes to acclimating kids to diverse students with ethnicities and experiences different from their own, according to Dean of Students Sarah Fortier.

    Curtiss Reed, Jr., executive director of VT Partnerships for Fairness and Diversity, came to the school last week to talk with teachers and will develop an in-house training program for them moving forward, Fortier said.

    Reed is also a member of a newly-created state council of public educators and public education leaders who are aiming to combat bullying, harassment and hazing.

    Fortier said MSJ is instead continuing to evolve in its acceptance of ethnic and international students.

    “In the past, we've had a large population of diverse kids, Ten percent of kids in any given year are of different ethnicities and backgrounds. Obviously, this is a huge issue for us,” she said.

    Fortier said MSJ is trying to be the example for educators statewide with this “pilot” program of how to properly teach kids to be world citizens.

    “We are teaching our kids to be world and American citizens. It is part of who we are as a nation to understand regional differences and it's a real part of our school. It's not just up to parents,” she said.

    "We've always had a large population of international students. It came to the forefront last year with the kids from the Bronx but we want to be a beacon that says we care about everyone. In the world, that's how it works."

    cristina.kumka@rutlandherald.com
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