RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced the members and leadership that will make up the new advisory committee tasked with making recommendations on culturally relevant and inclusive education practices throughout Virginia’s public schools.

The Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee is set to hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6, beginning at 2 p.m. The meeting can be streamed here.

“Inclusive and culturally relevant learning environments are vital to creating equitable pathways to success for all Virginians,” said Northam. “The work of this committee will advance our ongoing efforts to tell the complete and accurate story of Virginia’s complex past, improve our history standards, and give educators opportunities to engage in important conversations and lessons with their students.”

The committee was established during the 2020 General Assembly session under House Bill 916 and Senate Bill 853 sponsored by Delegate Mark D. Sickles and Senator Jennifer Boysko, respectively

The legislation directed the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to select the committee’s members and tasked the advisory panel with reporting its recommendations to Governor Northam, the Board of Education, and the Chairs of the House Committee on Education and Senate Committee on Education and Health, by July 1, 2021.

Specifically, the Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Practices Committee is charged with developing: 

  • Recommendations to VDOE for consideration by the Board of Education during the 2021-2022 review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning;
  • Recommendations to VDOE for consideration by the Board of Education during the 2021-2022 review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning;
  • Recommendations to VDOE for consideration by the Board of Education during the 2021-2022 review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning;
  • Recommendations to VDOE for consideration by the Board of Education during the 2021-2022 review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning;
    • Policies and regulations governing teacher preparation programs; and
    • Policies and regulations governing teacher licensure and professional development requirements for licensure renewal.

“When we teach an honest narrative of our past, students better understand their place in history and are equipped to work toward a better society,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This committee will build on the work of the Commission on African American History Education to ensure the content taught in Virginia classrooms is accurate and inclusive of perspectives which have been historically marginalized.”

The committee will be led by three co-chairs:

  • The Honorable Jennifer Boysko of Herndon, Member, Virginia Senate
  • Dr. Andrew Dair of Richmond, Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education  
  • Dr. Francisco Durán of RichmondMemberVirginia Board of Education; Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools 

Other committee members are as follows: 

  • Chief Ken Adams of Newport NewsVirginia Tribal Education Consortium (VTEC); Chief Emeritus, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe
  • Kathryn Adkins of Bassett, High School History Teacher, Henry County Public Schools 
  • Elena Baum of Virginia Beach, Director, Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
  • Seyoum Berhe RichmondState Refugee Coordinator, Department of Social Services, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Kristin Bolam of Yorktown, Elementary School Principal, York County Public Schools 
  • Maria Burgos of Dumfries, Supervisor of Global Learning and Culturally Responsive Instruction, Prince William County Public Schools; Member, African American History Education Commission (AAHEC)
  • Dr. Angela Byrd-Wright of Newport News, Mathematics Curriculum Leader, Hampton City Public Schools
  • Steven H. Cregger of Bristol, Elementary School Art Teacher, Washington County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Amaarah DeCuir of Sterling, Professor, American University School of Education
  • Colleen Eddy of Annandale, History and Social Science Content Coordinator, Fairfax County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Veleka S. Gatling of Norfolk, Director of Diversity Initiatives and Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Rachel Gomez of Richmond, Assistant Professor of Teaching And Learning, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education
  • Jennifer Goss of Staunton, Teacher, Staunton City Public Schools; Teacher Fellow, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Alfred J. Lerner Fellow, Jewish Foundation for the Righteous 
  • Dr. Tameshia Grimes of Nottoway, Superintendent, Nottoway County Public Schools; Member, African American Superintendent’s Advisory Council 
  • Austin Houck of Alexandria, Student, University of Virginia; LGBTQ+ Activist, Homoglobin 
  • Hyun Lee of Centreville, Member, Virginia Asian Advisory Board; Adjunct Professor, IGlobal University
  • Steve Legawiec of Williamsburg, Coordinator of Social Studies,  Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools
  • Divya Lobo of Sterling, Student, Dominion High School and the Academy for Engineering and Technology
  • Dr. Deborah March of Reston, Division Administrator, Fairfax County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Herbert Monroe of Glen Allen, Assistant Superintendent, Caroline County Public Schools 
  • Jared A. Morris of Barboursville, Division Curriculum Innovation Lead, Madison County Public Schools 
  • Jessica Morris of Pearisburg, Director of Special Education, Giles County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Monica Motley of Danville, member, Virginia African American Advisory Board
  • Kirk Moyers of Rockingham, Social Studies Coordinator, Harrisonburg City Public Schools; Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium
  • Brenda Muse of Rocky Mount, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Franklin County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Ilham Nasser of Falls Church, Senior Researcher and Director, International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
  • Dr. Megan de Nobriga of Bristol, Director of Special Education, Bristol Virginia Public Schools
  • Carla Okouchi of Fairfax Station, Education Subcommittee Chair, Virginia Asian American Advisory Board
  • Dr. Monica Robinson of Virginia Beach, K-12 Academic Support Programs Coordinator, Virginia Beach City Schools
  • Lyons Sanchezconcha of Richmond, Spanish Teacher, Richmond Public Schools; Member, Virginia Latino Advisory Board
  • Dr. Jennifer Santiago of Herndon, Director of Equity and Excellence, Falls Church City Public Schools 
  • Patty Smith of Chester, English Teacher, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology
  • Monica Starkweather of Sandston,ESL Teacher, New Kent County Public Schools; Member, Virginia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (VATESOL)
  • Dr. Ghassan Tarazi of McLean, Independent Consultant; Member, Virginia Coalition for Human Rights; Retired, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • The Honorable Schuyler VanValkenburg of Henrico, Virginia House of Delegates; High School History Teacher, Henrico County Public Schools 
  • Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez of Arlington, Retired Division Administrator, Arlington Public Schools 
  • Dr. Carolyn Waters of Richmond, ESL Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools 
  • Thelma Williams-Tunstall of Sandston, Content Specialist, Richmond City Public Schools-Retired 

“The instructional, policy, and equity staff of the department and I look forward to supporting the committee during the next six months,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “I am grateful to all of the educators and community leaders who graciously agreed to make this substantial commitment of their time and expertise to helping the commonwealth develop standards, practices, policies, and school cultures that support all learners.”

The virtual meeting agenda for Wednesday will be open for public comment during a select time slot. Members who wish to comment must register in advance online. Speakers will be limited to two minutes.

Additional information about the committee and meeting materials can be found on Virginia is for Learners website.

Read the full statement here.