Hilliard Northwest News

Diversity program documented at Belgian conference

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A Hilliard educator recently shared with international leaders a diversity program used in local schools.

Janet Monseur-Durr, the diversity and educational equity coordinator for Hilliard City Schools, traveled to Belgium Sept. 23-24 to present at the International Conference on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization.

Monseur-Durr spoke about Hilliard's diversity and educational equity program in her presentation, A Practical Plan for Creating and Sustaining Culturally Responsive Schools.

"Students who are connected to learning and connected to the community become responsible citizens," said Monseur-Durr, 51.

Monseur-Durr has been coordinator of the program since 2005 and a Hilliard teacher since 1994.

"The goal of our program is to make students connected to learning through their individual culture," she said. "Every student has a culture and a story and we want to provide a setting where every student feels empowered to share it."

Monseur-Durr works with students and teachers to help the policy flourish in as many classrooms as possible.

"What students have experienced is a part of who they are," she said. "They don't have to leave who they are at the door."

In February 2013, Monseur-Durr presented the district's program at a conference in Washington, D.C., at the request of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"Our practices (at Hilliard) have been recognized by Homeland Security," which first reached out to her three years ago as part of its study of the Somali communities in central Ohio, Monseur-Durr said.

Monseur-Durr met officials from the Danish ministry at the Washington conference, which led to her invitation to present at the September conference in Belgium.

Her goal at the conference in Belgium, she said, was to show educators and government officials how to recognize discrimination and intimidation based on religion or ethnic background, as well as techniques and good practices to limit it.

Several college-level professors were at the conference, but Monseur-Durr was the only classroom teacher at the equivalent of a high school, she said.

"I presented at each session and shared the philosophy of our district: to be inclusive," Monseur-Durr said. "Every student has something to offer (and) every student can learn from each other."

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