Leighann Forbes, Ed.D., associate professor and associate dean for the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, is helping Gannon University stay on the forefront of education through her work with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
In 2022, the PDE formally adopted three new sets of program framework guidelines, including Culturally-Relevant and Sustaining Education (CR-SE) guidelines. This set of guidelines is made up of nine competencies that are intended to help education stakeholders create student-centered learning environments that affirm cultural identities; foster positive academic outcomes; develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices; empower students as agents of social change; and contribute to individual student engagement, learning, growth, and achievement through the cultivation of critical thinking.
As these competencies were being developed, Forbes was asked to represent the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators and became one of three contributing writers to these competencies. The CR-SE competencies are now required to be integrated in educator preparation, induction and continuing professional development programs.
For Forbes, these competencies are crucial to educators who wish to truly understand their students and, in turn, help them reach their greatest potential.
“It's important to recognize that your experience is not always the experience of others and recognize the importance of diverse perspectives among our students,” Forbes said. “How they understand something may not always be how I understand something.”
Forbes is now bringing what she’s learned back to Gannon’s education faculty. Gannon’s education graduates will be equipped to walk into the field prepared and ahead of the game because these competencies will implemented into the university’s education curriculum,
Throughout this summer, Forbes and the school of education are planning a curriculum map, CR-SE competencies included, and how they can be implemented into courses at Gannon. Her hope is that Gannon will one day have a role to play in professional development for teachers in local K-12 schools as well as creating concrete professional development programming for Gannon educators, residence life leaders and more.
“These competencies are a good framework for thinking about the idea of belonging, and recognizing and valuing diversity,” Forbes said. “I think our faculty, staff and students would all benefit from having a better understanding of these.”