Teachers to learn creating inclusive classrooms at educators conference
Sep 8, 2023, 7:41 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend, teachers from around the state will become students as they learn how to better support kids in their classrooms from all different backgrounds.
One of the people they’ll be learning from is herself forging a new path at the state education level.
During some downtime in her office at Salt Lake Community College one afternoon this week, Sarah Reale, SLCC’s Director of Digital Marketing, answered emails and talked about some projects they’ve been working on lately.
“We just opened a new campus in Herriman,” she said, looking at her computer screen. “It’s a joint campus with the community college and the U of U. And we’re working on new signage.”
Reale also teaches a political science general education course at SLCC, which she’s been doing for about a decade.
“It’s so awesome to be around the students,” she said. “Because of my role, my full-time role, I’m working on how we communicate with students, how we support students. And being able to be in the classroom, while also teaching something I’m super passionate about, is really awesome.”
This weekend, Reale is switching campuses and will be in the classroom teaching at Westminster University. Her students will be other teachers, coming in from across Utah.
She’s the keynote speaker at the inaugural IncludEd in Schools Conference, hosted by brand new nonprofit IncludEd United.
Reale will share her experience from another role she serves, as a member of the Utah State Board of Education.
“I am the first openly gay board member,” she said. “And I knew going in when I ran for office that that was a big role to play because I wanted to make sure that not only through policy but through actions, I was supporting the LGBTQ community.”
She explained that she’s worked to move the needle on how they are supporting and representing those students and has been trying to encourage inclusive policy.
As Reale talks about the work she’s done on the state level in the LGBTQ space, teachers at the classroom level will also focus on topics like suicide prevention, vetting books, reducing bullying, and growth in leadership at the day-long conference.
IncludEd United Executive Director Amanda Darrow explained that the organization aims to unite individuals throughout the state around education.
“We’re really trying to get people to find common ground. And the best way to do that is to educate each other on all of our uniqueness,” she said.
Darrow said IncludEd United focuses on five areas: LGBTQ, people with disabilities, race and ethnicity, religion, and women.
The IncludEd in Schools Conference, she said, will bring together educators to learn about how to be inclusive for all students, with a little bit of a hyper-focus on LGBTQIA+ students. She hopes teachers will take away a sense of confidence and community, as they learn how to build inclusive environments.
“I want them to know that what they learned at this conference has left them with tools that they’re able to go back and put into their classroom,” she said.
Reale said there are a lot of things that are important for teachers to consider and understand when trying to make those inclusive environments, and she talked about how grateful she is that they’re able to come together to learn and grow.
“Students learn best when they’re the most comfortable,” Reale said. “Students are comfortable when they can be themselves.”
The IncludEd in Schools Conference is taking place on the Westminster University campus on Saturday, September 9 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Walk-in registrations are welcome for school and charter employees. Click here to learn more information.