More than 50 K-12 educators attended the first Urban Education Summit at Carthage College.
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Carthage welcomed more than 50 educators from Kenosha, Racine, and cities in northern Illinois for the inaugural Urban Education Summit on Jan. 19.

The one-day conference featured a variety of self-care techniques for urban K-12 teachers. Its theme, “Finding Peace Within,” also connected to the Martin Luther King Day celebration earlier that week.

Keynote speaker Michele Hancock, vice president of college culture for inclusion and founder of the Urban Teacher Preparation Program (UTPP) at Carthage, urged teachers and administrators to prevent burnout by incorporating “healthy selfishness” into their work and lives.

Carthage education professor Jackie Easley offered self-care tips for teachers during the Urban E... Carthage education professor Jackie Easley offered self-care tips for teachers during the Urban Education Summit. “When you ask for help, oftentimes big things happen,” Prof. Hancock said.

The gathering included sessions on journaling, yoga, and professional growth. Speakers drew a parallel to pre-flight instructions that caution airline passengers to help themselves before assisting others.

“Self-care is not just a buzzy term,” said Nina Weisling, an assistant professor of education at Carthage. “To do your job, you have to put on your oxygen mask first.”

In her session, Prof. Weisling also summarized brain research that underscores the need for culturally responsive teaching. Considered essential for successful urban teachers, that approach factors in the diverse concepts of courtesy and family that students bring to school.

“Kids cannot learn without a genuine sense of peace in their space,” she explained.

Two Kenosha community leaders, Tamarra Coleman (executive director of the Shalom Center) and Alvin Owens (owner of Regimen Barber Collective and founder of the Education Youth Development Outreach program), detailed the positive impact that community collaboration has on urban education.

Directed by Professor Siovahn Williams, the UTPP is the most immersive program of its kind in Wisconsin. Teacher candidates begin their fieldwork right away as freshmen, with guidance from experienced master teachers.

Six student workers for the UTPP assisted with the summit, which organizers hope to make an annual event.