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Online Spring Speaker Series Began with Lecture on Cultural Competency & Leadership by Phillip A. Smith, Ph.D.


Assistant professor Phillip A. Smith, Ph.D. presented on “How One Sees and Makes Sense of the World: What Do We Bring to the Table? Examining Cultural Competency & Leadership.”

Fordham University’s Division of Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy (ELAP) Online Spring Speaker Series began in February with a thought-provoking lecture from assistant professor Phillip A. Smith, Ph.D., on the importance of cultural competency in education.

Attendees were presented with a guiding question to consider: “How might we develop and incorporate culturally competent approaches in school leadership development and community?”

The discussion underscored the importance of demonstrating a working knowledge of the community in which one is teaching. In defining cultural competency, Smith named four critical elements: awareness, attitude, application, and skills. He clarified that being culturally competent implies having the awareness, attitude, and skill while demonstrating and applying cultural competency.

Smith then led a discussion about what might prevent cultural competency from being a viable practice in education, including unconscious biases among educators about social and identity groups. He further emphasized the importance of recognizing that there is a plethora of cultural experiences, and that we should ask ourselves: Whose cultures are we talking about? Whose cultures are we not?

Lastly, Smith reminded attendees that competency is just an initial step on a broader continuum, and that we should all aspire to cultural proficiency and the implementation of changes to improve services based upon cultural needs.

The second presentation in the Online Spring Speaker Series was on March 15, featuring assistant professor Tiedan Huang, Ed.D., on Advancing Continuous Improvement Through the Dissertation in Practice Description. Panelists included Laura Dubak, Ed.D., principal of Croton-Harmon High School, and Kenneth Kroog, Ed.D., assistant director of the Department of Special Education, Nassau BOCES.

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