By: Ron Dyer
York County has always had a special place in the world: its manufacturing and other industries, its contributions to American democracy, and its rich cultural heritage have all reflected international influences. The cultural diversity found in York County has enhanced the work and lives of its inhabitants. In our schools, cultural diversity finds expression in many ways – speakers at student assemblies about the topic, rich literature, classroom experiences, festivals, and other activities.
York County’s schools during the past decade have seen remarkable growth in the types and amount of cultures reflected in our schools’ populations. This growth has promoted discussions about cultural awareness, the emergence of understanding between groups, and other positive attributes. Challenges, of course, are inherent with cultural diversity. But, one group has been consistent in its unwavering support of bringing educators together to build awareness and to increase sensitivity about the topic: Leadership York.
Leadership York, through its Leadership for Diverse Schools (LDS) project and its collaboration with the Jewish Community Center, has taken hundreds of York County educators through a series of seminars about the topic over the past eight years. Participants in LDS develop an increased awareness and sensitivity about the impact of one’s cultural experiences in the school and workplace. As a result of participation in the LDS sessions, educators develop ‘cultural lenses’ through which they can better view these cultural linkages in promoting respect in our schools. Further, our schools become places where cultural diversity is valued, appreciated, and respected.
We thank Leadership York for its contribution to the discussion – and let’s keep those cultural lenses polished!
Ronald Dyer, Ed.D., is Superintendent of Dallastown Area School District. He has been an educator for over 40 years, with a passion for equity and access for students in educational settings. He was a member of Leadership York’s Executive Connections class of 2006, a two-term member of Leadership York's board of directors, and chaired the Leadership for Diverse Schools committee from 2008 to 2012.