Clayton Early Learning
26Mar/15Off

Speak Up for Kids: Advocacy in Action

Peter Blank

Posted by Peter Blank

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Peter Blank

On March 18, Clayton Early Learning co-hosted the 4th annual Speak Up for Kids event at the Denver Art Museum and the State Capitol.  Together with the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Children’s Hospital Colorado, Clayton sponsored the event to prepare partners across the state to advocate for children and build confidence in engaging their legislators.  With great turnout and active participation, another successful Speak Up for Kids day is in the books!

The focus of the advocacy at Speak Up for Kids day this year was on supporting two generation strategies that promote self-sufficiency and student success. Specifically participants learned about House Bill 1194 and several funding bills for early learning that are currently being considered in the legislature. House Bill 1194 would authorize a $5 million state investment to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to continue an existing program that increases access to long acting reversible contraception as part of the CDPHE’s family planning efforts. This bi-partisan bill provides the opportunity to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion in Colorado, support the health and education of women and children, and reduce reliance on government programs.

The investment bills that were discussed by the advocates and their state legislators focused on access to preschool, full-day kindergarten, and affordable child care which are some of our most cost-effective strategies to supporting children and families. Current legislation that was highlighted included:

  • House Bill 1024 which would add 3,000 new slots for part time or full time preschool under the Colorado Preschool Program
  • House Bill 1020 which would improve funding for full day kindergarten and help districts expand their kindergarten facilities if needed
  • The School Finance Act which could likely include the expansions for the Colorado Preschool Program and Full Day Kindergarten
  • The Long Bill, or the legislature’s appropriations bill, which could include line item funding for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) including an increase to help with the implementation of the CCCAP revisions from last year

The legislation discussed during this year’s event is of great importance for all members of Clayton’s diverse family– from the policy advocates to parents and community members, to teachers and kids.  Sena Harjo, a community based Child Family Educator and two year member on the planning committee for Speak Up for Kids believes that the event “… gives parents and families an opportunity to speak up for kids and have their voices heard at the hill.”  She also thinks that “…it gives the parents a chance to see how policy trickles down from the capitol to affect their daily lives.”  Speak Up for Kids also offered a setting for Buell Early Childhood Leaders alumni and current cohort participants to come together to network, practice their advocacy roles, and even serve as advocacy coaches.  There were 17 registered Buell leaders for this year’s event!

Each one of these unique perspectives is not only evidence of the breadth of work at Clayton, but also highlights how many people are positively affected by the continued advocacy demonstrated at this year’s Speak Up for Kids event.

It is important to keep in mind that this advocacy work doesn’t end with the Speak Up for Kids event – there is more work to do!  All voices were welcomed at the event and everyone is encouraged to continue advocating for kids.

If you want to get involved and advocate on behalf of children in Colorado you can:

  • Call and email your legislators. Reach out and share your thoughts on this year’s legislation.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to reach out and express their opinions with their legislators. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.
  • Testify in a committee hearing. If you have a passion for a particular piece of legislation or issue, you can testify at a committee hearing. To testify you just need to show up at the specific committee hearing for each piece of legislation and sign up.   A calendar of the Senate committee hearings can be found here.  A calendar of House committee hearings can be found here.  More information on testifying at committee hearings can be found here.
  • Sign up for KidsFLash! KidsFlash is a weekly e-newsletter from the Colorado Children’s Campaign that offers helpful analysis and discussions on all things kids, including legislation and advocacy. You can sign up for KidsFlash here or by visiting the Colorado Children’s Campaign website.

 

On the Steps of the State Capitol [Image Source: Colorado Children's Campaign]

On the Steps of the State Capitol [Image Source: Colorado Children's Campaign]

 

Questions?

Contact Lauren Heintz, Policy Specialist at Clayton Early Learning, for more information or assistance on getting involved in the advocacy process. Email: LHeintz@claytonearlylearning.org. Phone: 303-393-5623.

 

 

Links:

20Mar/15Off

Clayton Staff Working to Reduce Family Food Insecurity

Emily Cutting

Posted by Emily Cutting

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Emily Cutting

Emily Cutting

As Clayton celebrates National Nutrition Month this March and all the ways we promote healthy lifestyles to our children and families on a daily basis, we also seek to acknowledge the challenges many people living in Denver face with having the resources for appropriate foods for a nutritious diet., Professionals define food insecurity as a social and economic condition that stems from “the lack of consistent access to adequate food” (Coleman-Jensen, McFall, & Nord, 2013).  The Department of Agriculture states that this varies from hunger, a physiological condition, but can exacerbate into hunger if prolonged (Coleman-Jensen, McFall, & Nord, 2013).

 Hunger Close to Home

In 2011, 17.9 million families in the United States reported food insecurity at some point during the year.  This issue rings true right here in our neighborhoods surrounding Clayton Early Learning.  Research conducted at Clayton this past fall identified that across our school based and Head Start Home Based programs, 38.6% of families worried about food running out.  Food ran out completely for 18.7% of families at some point during the year.

Hunger Impacts Learningstress-busting-foods_med

Food insecurity can disturb children’s learning.  Hunger affects children’s biopsychosocial development and impairs a child’s ability to pay attention and retain information learned in the classroom.  Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that even “short episodes” of food insecurity can cause serious long-term damage to child development across cognitive, behavioral, emotional and physical spectrums (Raphel, 2014).

  • Clayton Staff Working to Combat Hunger in the Community

    The Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee has a twofold mission to act as a catalyst in building the capacity of families to prevent food insecurity through:

    1. Providing emergency access to nutritious food for all families and staff
    2. Educating families about food and nutrition in three main areas:
    • Food budgeting
    • Meal planning
    • Cooking skills

Throughout the year, the committee maintains the Food Pantry— an emergency resource for families and staff in need of support.  During the summer months, we maintain and harvest gardens to provide fresh produce at no cost.  We have collaborated with Denver Urban Gardens to offer two Youth Farmers’ Markets in the past year and strive to hold more this year!   The Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee hopes to reduce food insecurity within our community.  When our children have access to consistent and nutritious food, we can ensure that they have the brain nourishment needed to focus, grow, and succeed in school and life.Farmers market 2014

If you have any questions about the Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee or would like to get involved please contact

Sonia Chawla (schawla@claytonearlylearning.org) or Emily Cutting (ecutting@claytonearlylearning.org) for more information

References

Coleman-Jensen, A., McFall, W., & Nord, M., (2013). Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-11. United States  Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service, Economic Information Bulletin 113.

Raphel, S. (2014). Eye on Washington: Children, Hunger, and Poverty. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 27, 45-47.

17Dec/13Off

Culture Night at Clayton Early Learning Schools

By

Kelsy Petersen-Hardie

It is that time of year again for Culture Night, a special night that gives the schools of Clayton Early Learning a chance to celebrate culture in a meaningful way with staff, families, young children, and community members.  Each year we strive to offer an experience that is not only fun, but one that provides opportunities for young children and their caring adults to learn about and reflect on their own culture, as well as a chance to come together to celebrate as a community.  This year the planning committee got excited about delving deeper into an aspect of culture that all groups share.  Families and staff voted for their favorite cultural element from a long list of topics and music was nominated as the focus this year.

In reflecting on what music means from my cultural lens, I had visions of my facabinmily gathered together listening to old country western records as my grandpa took turns dancing the grandchildren all around the living room of my family’s cabin, a crackling fire in the background.  Images of practicing my violin and choreographing dance moves to Paula Abdul flooded my mind.  Music played a part in all special events I can recollect, like weddings, parties, and funerals.

When we talk about culture from a theoretical perspective, we lose children and adults alike. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t have a culture” or “I don’t know what my culture is”?  Culture is experienced every moment of every day, but we don’t necessarily recognize that we are living it because we are IN it.

I wanted to understand culture from my six year old daughter’s perspective so I asked her what she thinks about when she thinks of music.  She then gave me a laundry list of what music means from her cultural lens:  music as a school special, old country western records like Johnny Cash (that’s my girl!), music that people dance to, music from the Nutcracker, the rhythm and beats of jazz (she then proceeded to demonstrate the different tempos of jazz, illustrating the different lengths of notes with her stuffed animal collection).  There you have it, from the eyes of a young child.  Culture is lived.  Culture comes from experiences.  Culture is shared among people.  The special people in our lives touch us with these experiences, forever shaping our cultural lens.

What musical memories made the biggest impact on your life? What do you think about when you think of music’s impact in your family?

We hope you will join us at Clayton Early Learning’s Culture Night as we share the musical cultures of our staff, families and community, as well as engage in experiences that create new cultural memories among our children and our learning community.

Culture Night 2013:

Join us for an evening of celebrating culture through music as you mingle throughout the rooms, experiencing the movement, sights, and sounds of our School Family!

Tuesday, 12/17 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. at the Far Northeast Campus

Thursday, 12/19 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. at the Near Northeast Campus

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Would you like to join our Blog conversation? How do you celebrate culture in your community? If so, you can leave your statement in the Comment section at the bottom of this blog.

12Dec/13Off

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela: His Legacy of Walking in Cultural Humility

Shant'a Johnson

Posted by Shant'a Johnson

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Shant'a Johnson

It is fitting to use this space and time to honor and celebrate the life of one of the world’s most influential and courageous leaders of whom we have recently lost-Nelson Mandela.  Mandela, a South-African anti-apartheid activist and revolutionary, also served as the first black South-African President from 1994 to 1999.

Over the past week, as I viewed news clips of his life and legacy, one theme continued to shine through about who he was and the life and work that he lived.  It was his legacy of forgiveness and resiliency.  This legacy is one that many of those on either side of the former apartheid system attributed publicly to being the unifying factor of the 52,981,991 people who live in South Africa today.  Being an African-American female in the U.S., who still feels the impact of racism, classism, and gender inequality; I am thankful to have an example such as Mandela to look to as I journey and grow towards cultural humility.

You might be asking, what is cultural humility and what does this have to do Nelson Mandela?  Cultural humility, is a concept first birthed out of the health field to address the issue of lack of patient compliance to doctor prescribed treatment.  In the article Cultural Humility versus Cultural Competence: A critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education, cultural humility is defined as being:

“A lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, to redressing the power imbalances… and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations” (Tervalon, 123).

A young African American boy immitating a picture Nelson Mandela's raised fist during a speachMandela’s legacy embodies the very essence of cultural humility and its standing principles.  One standing principle that I feel reflects the life and legacy of Mandela is that of self-reflection and the life-long learner model.  Mandela states, “As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself.  You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”

This principle deems it “imperative that there be a simultaneous process of self-reflection (realistic and on-going self-appraisal) and commitment to a lifelong learning process” (Tervalon, 119).  One must first be willing to “consciously think about their own, often ill-defined and multidimensional cultural identities and backgrounds” (Tervalon, 120).

Mandela is characterized as a highly self-reflective individual, he shows what he has learned about himself and accepted through the following quotes:

“I am fundamentally an optimist.   Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.  Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.  There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.  That way lays defeat and death.”

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered”

We also can see Mandela’s process of letting go and forgiving in the following quote, as he reflects upon being released after serving over 27 years in prison, due to his involvement in anti-apartheid activism, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”

Mandela, with a firm foundation of understanding who he was, and the strength to accept what came, changed the course of a nation’s history and impacted the world.  If we were to take a closer look at his life’s journey, we can see one who lived by the principle of self-reflection and the lifelong learner model, allowing his life’s tragic events to transform him from being not only an influential activist against the apartheid, but also an advocate for the cause of peace on behalf of all.

In conclusion, let us all be challenged to take more time to self-reflect and accept what comes, using it to strengthen ourselves and others in this journey called life.  Together, we can have a hand in helping to shape the future for those little ones who will follow.

References:

Tervalon, M., Murray- García, J. Cultural Humility versus Cultural Competence: A critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education.  Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved; May 1998; 9,2; Research Library pg. 117.

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/278812-as-i-walked-out-the-door-toward-the-gate-that

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela

 

29Oct/13Off

Why is Handwashing Important?

Brenda Hoge

Posted by Brenda Hoge

By

Brenda Hoge

“When handwashing is done correctly by children and adults - there can be a 17% reduction in respiratory infections for young children This translates to preventing more than 100,000 colds per year.

 

What is the issue?

One of the most commonly missed indicators on the Environment Rating scales is using proper handwashing techniques for children and teachers.  We hear from many teachers that they are spending most of their day washing hands. They say that following the proper procedures are “impossible.” We want to clarify why handwashing is important and give some helpful tips about how to wash correctly.

Why is handwashing important?

Handwashing is the most important way to reduce the spread of infection. Many studies have shown that unwashed or improperly washed hands are the primary carriers of infections, particularly among infants and toddlers. Since many infected people carry communicable diseases without having symptoms and many are contagious before they experience a symptom, staff members need to protect themselves and the children they serve by carrying out hygienic procedures on a routine basis.

What does the research tell us?

HW1029Proper handwashing is extremely important for infants and toddlers. Research has shown that infants are especially vulnerable to infectious disease between 6 months and 9 months of age, when the protection of being in utero wears off. From that point, it takes until children are 2 years of age before their immune systems are fully functioning.

For preschoolers, studies have shown that deficiencies in handwashing have contributed to many outbreaks of diarrhea among children and caregivers in child care centers. In child care centers that have implemented a hand-washing training program, the incidence of diarrheal illness has decreased by 50%. Another study found that handwashing helped to reduce colds when frequent and proper handwashing practices were incorporated into a child care center's curriculum. Finally, when handwashing is done correctly by children and adults- there can be a 17% reduction in respiratory infections for young children. This translates to preventing more than 100,000 colds per year.

So why do we need to wash correctly?

The correct handwashing procedure is as follows: Hands must be wet first with warm water, which helps loosen soil, including infection-causing organisms. Next, soap must be applied. The soap lather also helps to loosen the soil and brings it into solution on the surface of the skin. To be effective, this process should take at least 20 seconds to complete. Hands must then be rinsed, which moves the lather off into the sink, as well as the soil from the hands that the soap brought into solution. Finally, hands must be dried with a single-service dispensed towel, which prohibits the spread of germs between children. Without these steps, potential infection-causing organisms will remain on the skin and then  those can be transferred between teachers and children.

So what are some helpful tips for carrying out these procedures?

  • The most important tip that teachers can use to teach children how to wash hands correctly is to role-model by washing their hands correctly. Often times it is the teachers who are not doing the procedures correctly, rather than the children. By being good role-models children understand not only how to wash but it emphasizes the importance of washing.
  • The second tip is to supervise children while they are washing. Children need to be reminded of the handwashing steps regardless of their age. The programs that are the most successful at handwashing are the programs that have the teachers supervising the procedures. This does not necessarily mean that teachers need to be at the sink with the children (although this is recommended for younger children and at the beginning of the school year), but that they are watching from wherever they are in the classroom and reminding children when steps are missed and praising them when it is done correctly.
  • One helpful tip that can help children remember the steps is to have a poster with pictures of a child (preferably one of the children in the class), performing each of the steps. This should be posted at all sinks that children and adults are using.  One school district made a story board out of the pictures, and children practiced which steps come first, next, etc.
  • Another tip for having children wash for 20 seconds is to have them sing a song.  Some popular songs that are used are“Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “ABC song,” and “Happy Birthday.” Feel free to have the children make up their own songs, or give them a list of songs that they can choose from.
  • Finally, if you are having trouble with the amount of time it takes to wash all of the children’s hands during transitions, one way you can do it is to wash as a group. One of our home providers came up with putting water in a spray bottle which she then sprays onto the children’s hands (hands are wet step). She then applies dispenser soap to each child’s hands, and they sing a song together as a group (soap and 20 sec. step is met). She then has them line up at the sink and they rinse their hands under running water (rinse step). Then they dry their hands with a paper towel (dry step). This process is very quick and it eliminates a lot of the issues of children waiting at the table and in line for a long amount of time.

So can handwashing be done correctly?

Yes, it can. It just takes some creativity (like what was mentioned above), some persistence, and some supervision. One thing to remember is that if children and teachers are absent because they are sick, the children are not learning. So it really is worth taking the time and effort to make sure that handwashing is done correctly.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (U.S.), American Public Health Association, & United States (2002). Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards : guidelines for out-of-home child care (2nd ed.). Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Hawks, D., Ascheim, J., Giebink, G. S., & Solnit, A. J. (1994). Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards-Guidelines for out-of-home care. American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, & National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.

Krapp, K., Wilson, J., & Thomas, G. (2005). Immune System Development. In Encyclopedia of Children's Health.

Roberts, L., Smith, W., Jorm, L., Patel, M., Douglas, R. M., & McGilchrist, C. (2000). Effect of Infection Control Measures on the Frequency of Upper Respiratory Infection in Child Care: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.105.4.738-42.

Niffenegger, J. P. (1997). Proper handwashing promotes wellness in child care. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. doi:10.1016/S0891-5245(97)90141-3 11: 26-31

Wald, E., Dashefsky, B., Byers, C., Guerra, N., & Taylor, F.(1988). Frequency and severity of infections in day care. Journal of Pediatrics. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(88)80164-1 -112:540-546

15Oct/13Off

Clayton Early Learning vs. Food Insecurity: Opportunities for a Healthy Lifestyle

Sena Harjo

Posted by Sena Harjo

By

Sena Harjo

Food is crucial for development in any age of people. Babies and young children need nutrition in order to assist their bodies in developing the strength, ability and cognitive processing that will carry them into many years of joy and learning.  Watermelon on the vineElementary age children and teens need nutrition to keep their bodies and minds growing, changing and transforming into the amazing adults that will create new beginnings within in our communities and in families of their own. And adults and elders need nutrition in order to maintain healthy lifestyles and to be able to engage and interact in their world to the best of their ability. As important as fresh food and healthy choices are, we at Clayton Early Learning have found that for many of our families, food insecurity is a persistent concern and stress in their everyday lives.

1015-strawDuring the 2012-2013 school year, Clayton surveyed parents about whether they were able to afford all of the food they need for their families. Families were asked questions like: How frequently are you anxious about running out of food? How often does the food run out before you have money to purchase more? What we found was that many of our families are facing some very difficult circumstances.  47.1% of our families worry about running out of food regularly and 35.6% of families are regularly facing empty cabinets at mealtimes. For our families this means over a third of our students are going without food at home from day to day.

So what is Clayton Early Learning doing about it?

1015-eggPFirst of all, Clayton Early Learning is making sure to consistently provide exciting healthy and fresh meals and snacks to the students enrolled in the many different program options that we serve. We also have a nutrition staff to support families who have questions and situations needing dietary supports. We cultivate two on-campus gardens to provide produce used in the kitchen, as learning opportunities’ for the classrooms and in fundraising opportunities’ for the programs. Also, throughout the year we offer Cooking Matters classes, where families can sign up to learn how to prepare healthy meals at home. Clayton’s new initiative, however, connects the learning from the classrooms into a service model, while offering a connection to fresh vegetables and fruits. Clayton will be having their very first Youth Farmer’s Market right on the Clayton campus!

This October 23rd from 2:30pm to 4:30pm the students and families of Clayton Early Learning will be running a fresh produce market where families, staff, and the community will have access to low cost fresh produce. Patrons will be able to purchase a variety of items promoting a yummy, healthy lifestyle.   We will be selling carrots, chilies, cucumbers, onions, jalapenos, red potatoes, squash, pears and apples!

Corn on the stalkWe invite you to come and join in the conversation about food resources and healthy options in our community.  The staff and families at Clayton Early Learning are invested in creating the best outcomes possible for our children and communities. We look forward to seeing you there!

Youth Farmer’s Market
Time and Location:

Date: October 23, 2013
Time:
2:30pm - 4:30pm
Location:
Clayton Early Learning (school parking lot)
3751 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205

Resources: Images courtesy of Sena Harjo.

19Dec/12Off

Why Does Culture Matter: The Clayton Approach to Culturally Proficient Work

Shant'a Johnson

Posted by Shant'a Johnson

By

Shant'a Johnson

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican journalist, publisher, and political activist in the late 1800’s, once stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Events such as cultural celebrations or cultural exchanges are necessary to promote understanding around issues of difference, but it doesn’t stop there.

The journey that Clayton Early Learning embarks upon with each individual child and their family is one that honors cultural foundations. We value and implement Principle 1 of the document Revisiting and Updating the Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five, expressing that “Every Individual is rooted in culture” (p. 11).

At Clayton Early Learning we understand that in order for an early childhood educator to work effectively with a child, it is critical to work through the lens of the child’s individual culture. As stated in the manual Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, “Culture is a predominant force; you cannot not have a culture” (p. 6).

The definition of culture can be simultaneously complex and yet simple in nature. It is important to understand that an individual’s culture comes in layers.
From universal identity- being part of the human species, to group identities such as race, age, gender, geographical, etc. and then familial identity (positioning in the family, effects of childrearing practices and historical family background). These levels of identity build an individual’s culture that make them unique, and yet also connected to others through shared experiences and identities.

For Clayton, learning how to build relationships that honor who a child and their family are is a work that is continuously growing. A wide range of information is captured spanning from the child’s family structure such as: who are the primary caregivers, home language, to important health information about the child and the family, all beginning at enrollment. In addition, a two page document called the first home visit form interviews the family about things like the origin of the child’s name, to favorite foods and eating habits, as well as educational practices within the family. All of this is done for the child to have a better connection to the teachers in their classroom, with their classmates, and ultimately to thrive in their educational setting and with the primary caregivers in their classroom.

In learning about a child, it is understood that culture is a part of the picture, but not the whole picture. A great point made in the Multicultural Principles document is that, “Culture is a way or (ways) of living.” In other words, culture is not the only way to explain human development…Individuals are also dynamic- they change and adapt to the circumstances of their lives” (p. 14). Clayton utilizes the detailed information that is received about each child as a firm foundation upon which to build strong transitions and growth in developmental milestones which ultimately will support a child’s success throughout their academic career and beyond.

Points of Reflection:
• Culture is a predominant force
• Diversity within cultures is vast and significant
• The group identity of individuals is as important as their individual identities
• The family, as defined by each culture is the primary system of support in the education of children.

References:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/culture.html#OWKPCqHm5DRbPhW4.99
Revisiting and Updating The Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five (2010). HHS/ACF/OHS.
Lindsey, R. B.; Robins, K. N.; Terrell R.D. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders. (Corwin Press; Thousand Oaks, CA)