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Courageous Conversations

Courageous Conversations is a series of collaborative discussions within the School of Education regarding race and culture in schools and society. Students, faculty and staff gather to discuss our roles as teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and educational leaders. 

Our aim is twofold:

  1. to provide a safe space to discuss race, culture, diversity, and inclusion both within the School of Education and in the schools, institutions of higher education, agencies, organizations and communities in which we serve and live.
  2. to discuss our roles as educators, counselors, and leaders in making a positive impact in our communities and becoming true allies to our communities of color. 
Upcoming Courageous Conversations

To Be Announced

Previous Conversations

November 14: Actors, Allies & Accomplices
There is an increasing need for advocacy by allies and accomplices on behalf of marginalized populations that are targets of censure and oppression. This Courageous Conversation will be an opportunity to briefly explore the different forms of support that we provide each other and discuss barriers, facilitators, and needs within the SOE community. 

September 14: Working in Polarized Spaces
Multiple data indicate a consistent theme of polarized experiences, views, and perceptions within the broader society and, as a byproduct, within the School of Education. This Courageous Conversation will provide the community a chance to process how and why polarization occurs within the School of Education, as well as working within spaces in which viewpoints appear to be in contradiction.

April 25: Finding Joy Amid Toxic Climates

March 23: Anti-DEI Movements in Higher Education
The School of Education community discussed the recent anti-DEI movements in higher ed, including an overview of proposed legislation in Virginia and examples from other states, and focused on how to continue working within the sociopolitical environment.


December 6: Compassion and Oppression Battle Fatigue in Education
This conversation focused on experiences of, and ways to address and mitigate, exhaustion associated with extending empathy, advocacy, and oppression (e.g., Racial Battle Fatigue, Queer Battle Fatigue).

May 5: Radical Healing in Education
This conversation focused on radical healing. The concept of radical healing (French et al., 2019) was introduced, and a discussion of how it can be applied in education to support marginalized youth and families followed. This psychological framework is grounded in five anchors: collectivism, critical consciousness, radical hope, strength and resistance, and cultural authenticity and self-knowledge. There was also a deeper dive into individual and group efforts that can be taken over the summer to promote our own healing and develop ways to promote healing in the next academic year.

February 21: The Whitewashing of Public Education and How to Move Forward
The School of Education community examined the recent efforts to stifle the instruction of an inclusive history in our public schools and stymie the scholarly pursuit of research related to race and equity in our schools and society. We welcome all students, faculty and staff into this safe space to share, listen and learn. 


November 15: The Path Forward for Equity
This Courageous Conversation, held during W&M Education Week, discussed the future of equity in our educational institutions. As the topic becomes more and more politicized in the media and national discourse, how do we move forward as educators?

October 6: The Violent Dismantling of Education: Processing the attacks on Equity in Educational Institutions
Over the past year, the rhetoric surrounding race and schools has become increasingly heated and politicized. There was a discussion about equity in K-12 and higher education settings. 

May 6: The Overcriminalization of the Black Community: Implications for Education
As we witness incidents of brutality and violence against members of the Black community across the country, the School of Education held a Courageous Conversation featuring community-based guest panelists to reflect on our roles as educators, colleagues and active citizens in combatting the criminalization of Blackness.

Hosted by Natoya Haskins, Director of Diversity & Inclusion in the School of Education, the panel included: 

  • Linwood Blizzard, Candidate for House of Delegates, Senior Pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Heathsville, Virginia
  • Deborah Cheesebro, Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police, William & Mary
  • Martinis Jackson, Author of Justice My Way: Memoirs of a Black Prosecutor, Founder of Jackson Legal Services PLLC
  • Charles Pierre, Lead Counsel for Data Privacy and Products, Facebook
  • Yohance Whitaker '16, Organizer of the Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center

April 8: Courageous Conversation
The School of Education community discussed, processed and reflected on issues relating to race and education.

February 16: Democracy, Freedom and Justice in Education
School of Education faculty, staff and students gathered for a Courageous Conversation on the topics of democracy, freedom and justice, examining these concepts through the lens of equity in education. The discussion focused on strategies for navigating divergent perspectives in the classroom and workspace, as well as how to create safe spaces for students and colleagues to share their voices.


November 16: Post-Election Courageous Conversation
This Courageous Conversation focused on moving forward as educators, colleagues and community members after a tense and divisive election season. Faculty and student moderators will introduce the topic, followed by breakout discussion groups in which participants can connect with fellow members of the community. We’ll explore the implications of the election on individual feelings of belonging and identity — and how we can support one another as we move forward together.

October 20: Race and Equity during an Election Year
The School of Education held a discussion about race, equity and education in an election year. As the country experiences a tense election season, how we can work to address racist policies in our workplaces, schools and communities? Faculty and student panelists will introduce the topic, followed by breakout discussion groups where all voices can be heard.

September 1: Courageous Conversation: Jacob Blake
As students across the country head back to school, the nation is grappling with yet another police shooting of a Black man. The School of Education community gathered to discuss the shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing events in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the interactive session, participants discussed their own reactions to these events and shared ideas about how to move forward as educators. There was also a discussion on how to recognize trauma — particularly among students engaging in virtual environments — and share resources for responding.

July 8: Student Forum
This conversation was intended for students and was led by a panel of student moderators. Students brought questions and thoughts to this safe space, working to incorporate social justice and anti-racist practices in our individual, community and professional lives. Moderators included Paige Goodloe, Aiesha Lee, Shené Owens, and Unity Walker. 

June 18: Where do we go from here?
School of Education faculty, staff and students gathered for our second Courageous Conversation about race, equity and education following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others. The discussion focused on how we can sustain the momentum gained and continue social justice and anti-racist work in our individual, community and professional lives.

Our panelists included faculty members Dr. Natoya Haskins, Dr. Janise Parker, Dr. Leandra Parris, and Dr. Katherine Barko-Alva, joined by Ph.D. students Aiesha Lee and Unity Walker.

June 4: A courageous conversation
School of Education students gathered to discuss how we move forward as scholars and educators in the current climate. The conversation focused on support resources for students of color, the role of allyship, and actionable steps we can all take to support one another and create an inclusive culture characterized by equity and open dialogue.

Dr. Natoya Haskins, Dr. Janise Parker, Dr. Leandra Parris, Dr. Katherine Barko-Alva, and Dr. Kim Lee Hughes, president-elect of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development, facilitated this courageous conversation.