Savvas Learning Company Launches Culturally Responsive Learning Initiative
UW-Madison's Gloria Ladson-Billings named to advisory board
September 24, 2020 | By Savvas Learning Company
Savvas Learning Company, a next-generation learning solutions provider for K-12 education, is proud to announce the launch of its Culturally Responsive Learning (CRL) Initiative that will focus on supporting teachers in making real changes in their classroom practices to foster student voice and improve achievement as well as using curriculum that opens minds and allows students to see themselves reflected in what they learn.
Building on the national movement for social justice, the Savvas CRL Initiative seeks to cultivate a more inclusive culture at Savvas that elevates different perspectives and increases diversity within its workforce, vendors, and editorial content. As part of its effort, Savvas is developing professional learning to support teachers in setting high expectations for all learners and creating classroom environments that welcome individual voices, provide safe spaces for challenging conversations, and promote student agency by empowering students with choices in how they learn.
“Culturally responsive learning is critical for increasing student engagement by encouraging student voice. We want our curriculum to be a tool to inspire that student voice in an authentic way, and to create opportunities for students to share their rich, cultural backgrounds,” said Bethlam Forsa, CEO of Savvas Learning Company. “As an extension of our core values of expanding equity and empathy, culturally responsive learning must be woven into everything we do at Savvas: from the curriculum we build and the professional learning we offer teachers, to the training we provide our employees, who are the heart and soul of our organization.”
To help guide Savvas in advancing culturally responsive learning within its products and services and throughout its organization, Forsa created a Culturally Responsive Learning Advisory Board comprised of prominent education scholars, researchers, former teachers, and advocates. This diverse group of experts brings a depth of knowledge and viewpoints on a wide range of culturally responsive topics. Its role is to provide insight and expertise that informs the efforts by Savvas to develop and deliver on culturally responsive learning through a holistic, research-based, and real-world approach. The board members include:
Cati V. de los Ríos, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of literacy, reading, and bi/multilingual education at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former ESL, Spanish, and ethnic studies public high school teacher in California and Massachusetts.
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Ph.D., a professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the original author on culturally responsive education and currently writes about culturally relevant pedagogy and critical race theory.
Ernest Morrell, Ph.D., is an award-winning literacy education scholar and the author of two core Savvas programs, myView Literacy™ and myPerspectives® English Language Arts.
Theresa Santos-Volpe is an LGBTQ+ family advocate and consultant, journalist, and children's book author with 28 years of educational publishing experience.
Kate Seltzer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of sociolinguistics and ESL education at Rowan University, and a former New York City ELA teacher.
The Savvas CRL Initiative will impact all facets of the organization, including the design and development of its editorial content, the recruitment and professional development of its employees, the selection of its vendors, and the marketing of its products and services. As part of the initiative, Savvas and its advisory board have already begun a comprehensive review of the editorial guidelines used by Savvas across every educational discipline. Savvas will also provide training to its employees around diversity and inclusion.
Another key part of the Savvas CRL Initiative will be the creation of a scholarship program that annually will award five Black and Brown students a total of $50,000 each toward tuition for a four-year college degree. In addition to the financial support, Savvas will provide mentorship opportunities and career-planning workshops, as well as sponsor and facilitate internships inside and outside Savvas.
“Simply writing a check is not enough,” Forsa said. “We want to be able to help mentor these young scholars, who will come from some of the most marginalized and underserved populations in our society. We have a vested interest in helping these scholarship winners get the resources and skills they need to succeed in their careers and in life.”