Spring Updates 2021

March, April, May Updates

Educators of Color Resource Group

The Employees of Color Resource Group’s mission is to provide an affinity space for Employees of Color to understand how our racial/ethnic identities impact our experiences at RPS and to collaborate with the District in creating a more supportive, anti-racist school and work environment for students and staff. We seek to increase the retention of Black, Indigenous, and other Staff of Color by supporting and celebrating the impactful work we do to inspire, challenge and empower all students.
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A Stand in Solidarity

The Educators of Color Resource Group stands in solidarity with our Asian brothers and sisters. As we have seen a rise in crime against Asian and Asian Americans, please know that we will continue to protect and support each other. Please find some resources below to help us all process these hate crimes. If you or someone you know needs extra support, please reach out using the contact form linked below.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

Ryunosuke Satoro

RPS resources

A Mental Health Wellness Book for Asian Americans

Addressing Anti-Asian Racism: A Resource for Educators

Asian American racial Justice Toolkit

Addressing Anti-Asian Bias

Responding to Anti-Asian Violence and Georgia Shootings

Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong American Women


Our website is live! Check it out https://www.rochesterschools.org/eocrg. The page is under the careers section of the Rochester Public Schools webpage.

There you will find information about becoming a member, a communication form, and mentorship information

RPS Recruitment Video 2021
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World Language Teachers

Minnesota World Languages Update

Dear Minnesota Languages Educators,

I hope this message finds you well. March means that we are a little bit closer to spring. The anticipation of spring makes me feel upbeat and lifts my spirit. Many educators are receiving vaccinations. Many schools are returning to in-person learning. The sight of a yellow school bus in my neighborhood the other day suddenly brought back the memory of “school noises” that are filled with excitement, laughter, passionate discussions and friendly greetings. There is a lot to be hopeful and optimistic about. In April, I will be entering into my second year of this role as the World Languages Education Specialist. I am hopeful that I can continue to develop some effective ways to be connected and grounded with the daily experiences of languages educators and languages learners. One of the projects I am introducing this month is the Minnesota Bilingual Seals Advisory Committee. Please read the section below to learn more and apply to participate. I hope to hear from many of you. I am committed to making connections and building relationships; to learn from you so that we can collectively advance equitable language education for all.

MDE is seeking volunteers who will serve on the Minnesota Bilingual Seals Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to make recommendations and to inform decision-making regarding the implementation of the Minnesota bilingual seals program that ensures access to seals assessments which are grounded in equity. The committee will meet three to five times a year, in spring or summer, fall and winter. The anticipated time commitment is 10 to 15 hours. The membership is open to school districts and charter schools from all 11 regions as defined by Regional Service Cooperatives, post-secondary institutions, as well as community stakeholders. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please apply by submitting a brief statement that includes the following information.

  • Your name, organization, your role
  • Your experience with the bilingual seals program
  • A reason for your desire to serve on the committee
  • Any other things you would like to share.

The submission should be emailed to ayumi.stockman@state.mn.us by March 31, 2021.

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Apr 6, 2021, 6:00 PM – Apr 27, 2021, 7:00 PM CDT Becoming Antiracist: A Learning Series for Educators

About this Event

This is a professional learning series and community for educators who see ourselves as “liberal” or “progressive,” but who know that’s not enough. We want to do better when it comes to racial justice.

The series includes four 60-minute webinars and discussions with educator-activists of color about stepping up racial justice efforts, which will meet Tuesday evenings, 7-8:00pm Eastern Time, throughout April 2021. (Sessions will be recorded for people who register but aren’t able to view them live, so if you can't make it live, don't worry! Note that recordings will be available for 48 hours, then taken down, so you must watch the recording in that time block.)

Our amazing guests:

  • April 6: Cheryl Matias
  • April 13: Eddie Moore, Jr.
  • April 20: Gloria Ladson-Billings
  • April 27: Kike Ojo-Thompson

See fuller description below for more details of what is included in your registration.


The series is hosted by Paul Gorski in conjunction with the Equity Literacy Institute.


April 6 at 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm CDT: Rhythm and Resistance: A Conversation About Teaching and Writing Poetry (Free)

Join award-winning author, Renée Watson, and Rethinking Schools editor, Linda Christensen, for a conversation about teaching and writing poetry. They will discuss creating generative spaces for students to take risks as writers, finding poetry models that move students into writing, as well as tough questions about revising and grading poetry. Dyan Watson, Rethinking Schools editor, will introduce the evening.

This event is hosted by Rethinking Schools. Participants will need access to Zoom. The event is 75 minutes. ASL Interpretation is available.

Tuesday, April 6 at 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET.

REGISTER for the Zoom link and a 25% Rethinking Schools book and magazine discount code.

This event is free to attend. To make events like this available to more teachers, we would greatly appreciate your solidarity donation.


May 10 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm CDT: How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America with Clint Smith

May 10, 2021: How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America | Clint Smith is a poet, staff writer at The Atlantic, and teaches writing and literature in the D.C. Central Detention Facility. Smith, in conversation with Cierra Kaler-Jones, will talk about his new book, How the Word Is Passed, an examination of how monuments and landmarks tell myths or truths about the central role of slavery in U.S. history and its legacy today.

More Information

EoCRG General Meeting

Friday, May 14th, 4-6pm

This is an online event.

The Educators of Color Resource Group Executive Board is hosting our 2nd bi-monthly social gathering! Please join us for networking, sharing of experiences, fun, and community.

We hope to see you there!
Here's the Google Meet Link!


RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Tuesdays in October, 3-5:30PM Racial Equity Facilitator Training

About this Event

This training is designed for teachers, instructional coaches, professional development specialists, equity specialists, and anyone else who wants to lead the sorts of professional learning the Equity Literacy Institute leads.

We will meet Tuesdays in October 2021, 4:00 - 6:30 PM east coast time (with a break built in). We also will provide particpiants with a virtual toolbox of the exercies, short readings, case scenarios, and handouts we use in our workshops. Participants will be given a 12-hour professional learning certificate at the end of the series.

The. morning of each of the four sessions participants will receive an email with login instructions for that week's session.

All sessions will be recorded and distributed to registrants the day after each session. So, if you have to miss all or part of any session, you will still be able to see it. Note that recordings will be available for one week, then taken down.

What Registration Includes

Participants will receive:

  • a collection of the exercises and activities the Equity Literacy Institute uses in workshops and faciitations,
  • four 2.5-hour workshops led by Paul Gorski and Marceline DuBose plus ongoing access to videorecordings of the workshops,
  • a modifiable PowerPoint template with basic equity literacy components and exercises built in,
  • a vetted collection of short readings to use in professional learning contexts, and
  • a 12-hour certificate of completion for participating in the online sessions and doing the between-sessions exercises.

About the Equity Literacy Framework

To learn more about our framework, please visit http://equityliteracy.org.


Member Highlights

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Member Highlight-Thang Nyugen

  • What brought you to Minnesota?

We escaped out of our country (Vietnam) in the middle of the night to board a boat that takes us to a refugee island/camp and we were sponsored over to the U.S in June 1978 when I was 10 years old. We came straight to Rochester from the island.

  • What is your professional background?

I am a Rochester Schools product (Gage, Sunset Terrace, JA, and JM alum). Earned my AA degree at RCC (RCTC now), my BS degree at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, my Masters degree at Winona State, my Ed. Specialist/ADmin. at Winona State and U of M.

I’ve been teaching Health Education in the district for 26 years. Coached football for 23 years, Girls basketball for 16 years, and Girls Softball for 26 years.

  • What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

We are a very active family, so our free time is spent doing something outdoors(bike rides, walks/hikes at State Parks) or involves some sort of physical fitness routine. And just curling up to a good book. We love to travel also.

  • Who are the important people in your life?

My family: Wife, Sarah (teaches at Century), oldest son Marcus (17 yrs old), Maximus (14 yrs old), and Mason (12 yrs old)

  • What was a memorable moment while working with students?

After 26 years of teaching and coaching, there are so many satisfying, memorable moments that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and makes our profession so worth doing...from a light bulb that turns on in a student/athlete’s face that says “I Got It!!” To relationships built from an 8th grader that you taught who is now a grown person who is in their 40s. But one of the most memorable moments happened last week when an ex-student (41 years old) to me he is what he is today (a great husband and father of 2 daughters) is because of me and that I’m responsible for how he turned out, gave me a big hug and told me he loves me. WOW!!!

  • Any words of advice?
Be a thermostat in life, not a thermometer. A thermostat controls his/her environment, a thermometer reacts to it.

  • Favorite quote: I have a couple:

“As long as you’re green, try to be ripe. But as soon as you’re ripe, you’re rotten”

“A setback is nothing but a set up for a comeback” and “Every master was once a disaster”.

  • What is your involvement with the union? What advice do you give to others that are new in the union or have not engaged with the union yet?

I try to help out with Mentorship and provide feedback about teaching, teaching in the district as a person of color,or anything people want to know about our district since I have 26 years of experience under my belt. I’d like to do more within the union and District, but the time restraint from teaching to coaching makes it so hard to be committed to other things.

Some advice I would give to people is Get involved! Within your building or district wide. You will learn a lot and grow tremendously as a person as well as a staff. Reach out to others for help. Seek wisdom/wise counsel from others who have been there and done that. Remember, every master was once a disaster. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. So keep seeking and keep growing. And you keep doing it and doing it, because wealth grows where we exert energy and with consistency, your Burden becomes your Blessing.

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Member Highlight-Alexis Wash

  • What brought you to Minnesota?

I was born and raised in Rochester MN and my family is what keeps me here.

  • What is your professional background?

During the school year, I am a first-grade elementary school teacher. During the summers, I spend my time in St. Mary’s inpatient pharmacy as a certified pharmacy technician.

  • How long have you been in the district, and what is your current position?

I went through the district for my K-12 education, so I have been in the district for about 18 years. Now, I am in my first year of teaching at Jefferson Elementary School, the same school I attended K-5.

  • What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also love music, so going to concerts and music festivals is always a great time. COVID definitely changed that, so now I spend my time making tie blankets and watching Hulu & Netflix.

  • Who are the important people in your life?

My mom and aunts are the most important people in my life. My mom immigrated to America from the Philippines when she was around my age. From knowing little English in a completely new country to now becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, she has definitely taught me the importance of hard work and education. My aunts are also important to me because they were the ones who raised me while my mom was busy working. They are like second moms to me.

  • What was a memorable moment while working with students?

I feel like I make memorable moments every day with students. One of the most memorable moments happened this year. I was working 1-on-1 with a student who was still practicing her letter and sound recognition. I pulled the letter B from our stack of letters and asked her what sound it made then I asked her to tell me a word that started with that letter. She sat for a moment, then she looked at me and said “Bonjour?” We had a great laugh and I asked her “When did you learn French?” It was nice to have a moment to laugh with a student during this crazy pandemic year.

  • Any words of advice?

Use positive affirmations every day- especially during this school year! It is so easy to feel a certain way about yourself and your abilities. Take the time every day to remind yourself of the positive things you are doing.

  • Favorite quote:

It has nothing to do with education, but my favorite quote is “It’s above me now.” The quote is from Craig Brooks and has been my answer for a lot of different things.

  • What is your involvement with the union? What advice do you give to others that are new in the union or have not engaged with the union yet?

Honestly, I am not quite sure… but I’ll give you my advice anyways. My advice would be to remember that your voice and opinions are important. Reach out to others when you need to and continue to support one another.

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Shout Outs!

Natalia Benjamin (Multilingual Teacher, Century): Congratulations Natalia for being a semifinalist for 2021 Minnesota Teach of the Year Award!

Ben Thorton (Head Start (The Place)/Mighty Oaks Early Childhood Special Education Teacher): Ben has been celebrating Black History Month by including the teaching of Black Icons in his preschool lessons.

Thang Nyugen (Health Teacher, JM): Thang was the first person to sign up and record his part for the EoCRG promotional video. Thanks Thang!

Crystal Smith (DCD-MM ,Riverside): Crystal's work was highlighter in the Post Bulletin! Congratualtions, Crystal!! https://www.postbulletin.com/rochester-in-color/6905631-Crystal-Smith-has-tried-to-make-their-road-a-little-easier

MEA Online

Get the professional development you need from the comfort of your home or classroom through trainings on our online learning platform MEA Online (formerly known as LearnUpon)!

Improve your professional practice, earn CEU credits for relicensure or build your union understanding and power -- with MEA Online!

The majority of courses will be pre-recorded. Some will be offered live via webinar and some will be a combination of both.

The best part? These courses are FREE to active Education Minnesota members.

How to sign up

Education Minnesota sent email invitations to access MEA Online in July, September and November to all member email addresses we have on file.

1. Please check your email to find an invitation that says, “You are invited to the MEA Online learning portal.” The invite will come from Education Minnesota’s MEA Online Team at notifications@learnupon.com and contain a link special to each member to access the site.
2. If you did not receive an email invitation from notifications@learnupon.com, please email meaonline@edmn.org. (Remember to check your junk/spam folders!) The MEA Online team will respond to your email promptly and send you an automated email invitation as described in step one.

No account creation is required. That's all been done already on the back end of the platform.

NEA Professional Excellence Portal

Begin your journey to improve your practice as an educator and create better outcomes for your students.

Learn more »
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Paid Mentorship Program

As a reminder, if you are interested in getting mentored (1st 3 years at RPS) or being a mentor, please contact Ian Naatz at Ianaatz@rochesterschools.org, or complete the Contact Us form at the bottom of the newsletter. Both mentors and mentees will be compensated.

EdMN PD Grants-DUE APRIL 2nd, 2021

EdMN Professional Development Grants are Due April 2, 2021. There are several grants to apply for including:

Please visit https://edmnfoundation.org/overview/ for more information.

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Sunshine Fund!

The Sunshine Funds are monetary donations given by EoCRG members. These funds will be distributed to the EoCRG members to acknowledge special occasions or to provide support during unfortunate events. Sunshine Funds can be collected at John Adams contact person Ramona Norwood school #507-328-5700 and cell #312-513-9360 . You will receive a receipt for any donations for tax purposes. Thank you!

"It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving"

Professional Development Ideas?

Have you seen or heard of any great professional development ideas you would like us to know about for next year? Please complete the contact form and specify PD request. We would love to hear your ideas!
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Contact Us!