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Social justice education conference set for June 19-20

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UNG's College of Education will host the All Y'all Social Justice Series on UNG's Dahlonega Campus from June 19-20.

Less than two years ago, former University of North Georgia (UNG) faculty member Dr. Adam Jordan and colleagues from the University of Florida (UF), University of North Florida (UNF) and Teaching Tolerance wanted to provide some free professional development to help teachers in the South be better prepared to teach about the complex history of the region.

His vision came to fruition with a free conference that brought together college faculty members and elementary through high school teachers in Jacksonville, Florida, in summer 2018. The second installment of the All Y'all Social Justice Series comes to the UNG's Dahlonega Campus from June 19-20.

Dr. Sheri Hardee, dean of UNG's College of Education, is glad UNG is host for the conference.

"It's a good mix of people. You're bringing together practicing teachers and researchers," Hardee said. "So it's a good time for the theory and practice to come together. That can help have a little bit more impact."

College faculty; elementary, middle and high school teachers; and college students can apply to present or register for the conference on the All Y'all Social Justice Series website. Presentation applications are open through April 22.

Jordan was still a faculty member at UNG when plans for this year's event began. He is now an associate professor of special education at College of Charleston, which is a partner in the conference. The Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at UF's Levin College of Law and the UNF's Center for Urban Education and Policy join UNG and College of Charleston in organizing this year's conference.

The event's first day will feature concurrent sessions and a keynote address from Marie T. Cochran, an artist, educator, curator and art writer from Toccoa, Georgia. Cochran is the director of the Affrilachian Artist Project, which seeks to build "a sustainable community-building platform for artists of color from and inspired by the Appalachian region," according to its website.

The second day of the conference allows teachers to connect with people engaged in social justice work in the communities around UNG. Winnie Namatovu, assistant professor of teacher education at UNG, is coordinating those efforts.

"It is figuring out a way to build bridges instead of doing the same work in isolation," Namatovu said.

One of the groups that attendees will have the chance to connect with is the Appalachian Studies Center housed in the Historic Vickery House on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

The event will also include two movie screenings. "Hillbilly" explores the social, cultural and political underpinnings of the infamous stereotype in its title. "Chico" tells the story of 2010 Kentucky Social Studies Teacher of the Year David Prince.

Hardee is excited to see the ideas discussed at All Y'all.

"It's a time to come together and have conversations about inclusion and multicultural education," Hardee said. "A lot of people pay lip service to diversity, but what does that actually mean and how do you dig below the surface? And what does it mean to really teach about diversity and teach students to respect and affirm one another? And how do we teach teachers to do the same?"

As a first-generation college student from the north Georgia region, having All Y'all at UNG is personal for Jordan.

"North Georgia will always be my home, no matter where I'm working," Jordan said.

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