Merrill Middle School Staff Participate in Refugee Simulation

posted Nov 19, 2018, 1:50 PM by Katie Nieman   [ updated Nov 19, 2018, 1:58 PM ]
Staff professional development prioritizes cultural responsiveness

Refugee Simulation with Merrill Middle School StaffRefugee Simulation with Merrill Middle School StaffThe Oshkosh Area School District is committed to providing a culturally responsive environment, and schools throughout the District have embarked on a variety of initiatives to help to create a bridge between home culture and school culture. On Wednesday, November 14, the staff at Merrill Middle School participated in Against All Odds - a refugee simulation project, facilitated by Dr. Michael Fonkem of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The staff professional development opportunity aimed to help teachers and staff members increase their cultural competence and discover ways in which the school community can work together to ensure that all students can succeed and excel in a multicultural world. Making sure all students can succeed means understanding students’ cultural beliefs and practices. By engaging in culturally responsive practices, the school community is focused on creating a shared understanding of the values, beliefs, and behaviors of all people and cultures.

Dr. Fonkem is a professor in the Human Services Leadership Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. His expertise and understanding of cultural responsiveness come from his life experiences, as well as his work with the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, and Saferworld. Dr. Fonkem has authored numerous books including Nationalism and Intra-State Conflicts in the Postcolonial World. Additionally, he recently facilitated the refugee simulation for the Winnebago County Literacy Council.  

Merrill Middle School has identified cultural responsiveness as one of its building goals for the 2018-19 school year and the refugee simulation was one component of the school’s ongoing staff professional development. The cultural diversity of Merrill Middle School provides a unique opportunity for continual learning about the diverse cultures of students and families. By increasing the cultural awareness of the staff, the school community will be able to support growth in student achievement by better understanding the multiple stories of each of their students, and how they learn best. Merrill Middle School will continue to promote cultural responsiveness throughout the school year through continued professional development, responsive literature investigations, and school-wide celebrations of cultural awareness.