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ACC Hosts Curriculum Conference

After being born premature in Baltimore and then growing up in poverty, Dr. Richard White said he had to make the best of his upbringing.

White  was homeless and hew would find his meals in trash bins and stuff newspaper in discarded shoes so they would fit.

“It was the hand I was dealt and I played it to the best of my ability,” he said.

With the help of educators and others in his life, White would go on to earn a Music PhD in tuba, the first African American in the world to do so.

“Give the world your best and immortality will be yours,” he said. “Every second every minute of every day counts. The time to make a difference is now.”

White was the keynote speaker for the 6th Annual Across the Curriculum Conference at Alvin Community College on February 18. The virtual conference is an opportunity to provide local educators with an opportunity to share their methods in the classroom while also learning about how to make improvements.

“This conference creates a safe space for faculty and staff to exchange new ideas and innovative practices for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Nadia Nazarenko, ACC dean of  General Education and Academic Support. “This year the conference focused on Diversity and Inclusion and provided a forum for the participants to discuss best practices for engaging students from various backgrounds and life experiences.”

More than 130 educators from ACC and other colleges participated in the conference.

“One thing community colleges do that no other institution does is that we open our arms wide and welcome every individual who wants to change their lives and increase opportunities to improve our communities,” ACC President Dr. Robert J. Exley said.

During his keynote address White discussed various aspects about how teachers can reach their students. The most important trait, he said, was to never be discouraged in the classroom

“No one ever gave up on me,” he said.

Another key aspect is motivating students to succeed by setting their expectations high and helping them meet those expectations through performance.

“This educator has the ‘Rocky’ theme playing in their head. They make you believe you are a champion.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are also important to bear in mind when working with all students as labels can inhibit an educator’s expectations and therefore student achievement.

“Stereotypes prevent us from seeing differences that actually exist,” White said. “We should never lower the bar of excellence.”

Educators must not always see success as the only useful outcome.

“Success is just as important as failing, “ he said. “If you failed there was something you needed to know that you didn’t know. Now that you know you can fix it.

Whether teachers fail or succeed, it is important that they maintain a vision for their students.

“I would like you to be a prisoner of your past but to be a pioneer of your future,” he said. “May we all keep believing and making a difference.”