Thursday, May 14, 2015

The University of Iowa College of Education recognized two outstanding Iowa educators for their innovation and unique perspective in promoting and building respect for diversity in the classroom.

Jess Harris and Anah Austin received the 2015 Phyllis Yager Memorial Diversity Teaching Award for going above and beyond the curriculum. Harris and Austin are seventh-grade literacy teachers at Northwest Junior High in Iowa City. The pair made a push in their first year of teaching to integrate different levels of readers into one literacy classroom. Harris and Austin felt it was one of the biggest ways to help build respect for diversity because, by keeping the courses together, students of all backgrounds and abilities were valued as readers. 

The award comes with a grant, which Austin and Harris will use to buy books that reflect the lives of the students. The school serves a wide range of families: students speak more than 60 languages, have a wide range of socioeconomic status as well as a wide range of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identification and background.