Diversity, Equity and Inclusion » School Curriculum and Professional Development

School Curriculum and Professional Development


Sacred Heart Academy

SHA Faculty Social and Racial Justice Professional Development

  • Redlining Louisville: Racial Capitalism and Real Estate by Josh Poe (Online Presentation)
  • Faith and Racial Equity – Just Faith Ministries (Online Educational Series)
  • Difficult Conversations with Marian Vassar (Online Presentation)
  • White Fragility (Book Study)
  • White Fragility: A Four-Week Exploration of Whiteness and Systemic Racism (Online Educational Series)
  • How to be an Anti-Racist (Online Workshop)
  • What We Continue to Get Wrong About Racism: Ideas for Furthering the Conversation on Racism (Online Presentation)
  • Who Feels Fragile? Anti-Racism Training (Online Workshop)
  • Break Through Implicit Bias with a Conversation (Online Presentation)
  • Black Women of Print Speaker Series: Delita Martin (Webinar)
  • How to Talk About Racism – Part 2: The Questions (Webinar)
  • Lesson From the History of Black Louisville: An Educator Symposium (Online Workshop)
  • Teaching Black History and Culture (Online Workshop)
  • Racism Discussion – Facing an Uncomfortable Truth (Online Presentation)
  • Communicating Across Divides: Student and Faculty Training (Online Workshop)
  • Overcoming Racial Inequity in Business: Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement (Online Presentation)
  • Breaking Through Implicit Bias, Start the Communication (Webinar)
  • NACAC – How to Practice Anti-Racist School Counseling (Webinar)
  • UK Diversity and Inclusion Updates (Online Presentation)
  • Micro-Aggressions Workshop with Marian Vassar (Presentation)
  • Socially Just Practices for Safe and Sound Schools (Webinar)
  • National Coalition of Girls’ Schools: Building Anti-Racist School Communities (Online Presentation)
  • “Witnessing to the dignity of the human person as an antidote to the grave sin of racism” Archdiocesan Leadership Institute (seminar)

SHA Student Social and Racial Justice Activities

  • Student Assembly led by the DLT, BSU, and The West Meets East Club – Diversity and Inclusion Workshop
  • Junior Retreat - “The history of African American racial injustice in our city.”
  • Hearts for the Holy Spirit and Junior Class – Communicating Across the Divides training with Cory Lockhart
  • BSU guest speaker – Mukesha Eduige; Crossroad Ministry Retreat Leader
  • Martin Luther King Day Celebration (video)
  • 2020-21 Summer Reading Program

SHA Summer Reading Selections (2020-21) 

Freshman: Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
Sophomore: I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda
Junior: Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Senior: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson


Over the past five years, the English department has worked to develop a curriculum that has a balance of both contemporary works and the classical canon at each grade level. The English Department has also been engaged in making the summer reading selection a study of strong women, focusing on nonfiction texts that provide the opportunity for students to explore issues of social justice.  We are continually developing and adapting the curriculum and all teachers actively reflect on and refine their teaching each year to always improve and meet the needs of students. This year’s summer reading selections reflected that intent and provided opportunities for students to expand their worldview.


For the 2020-21 academic year, SHA’s English Department moved away from the One School, One Book program of the last four years. While that program brought about rich discussions across grade levels and a sense of community that came from engaging in a common book study, the school recognized that each grade level has specific needs and abilities and saw the importance of strengthening the connections to the core value for each class and developing outreach projects for students to engage in each year in conjunction with their discussion on summer reading.


The freshman selection, Funny in Farsi, is a collection of vignettes describing the experiences of the Iranian-born author upon moving to America with her family in the 1970s. It explores the ideas of identity and community as Dumas walks the line between maintaining her cultural traditions at home with her family and her desire to experience American customs. SHA had planned to partner with Americana or Catholic Charities to design outreach for the freshman students during this unit, but restrictions were in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. English department leadership is continuing to research other options for students that will allow them to have an authentic learning and service experience in regard to immigration.


The sophomore selection, I Will Always Write Back, is the true story of a friendship that developed between Caitlin, a seventh-grade white girl in Pennsylvania, and Martin, an African teenager living in Zimbabwe. As they exchange letters over the course of six years, they discover similarities (the universal truth that teenagers find themselves at odds with parents is seen several times) as well as differences that change their view on the world. This unit focused on the idea of perspective, which is an IB MYP concept explored throughout the sophomore year.


The junior selection, Left to Tell, is a memoir of the Rwandan Holocaust told by Immaculee Ilibagiza. It is the incredible story of the author’s faith and resilience during unfathomable suffering and cruelty. As the junior core value is service, teachers led the students in making the connection between giving selflessly to others and allowing our faith to guide our beliefs of social justice. They hope to partner with our Ursuline Sisters to hear stories of how their faith has called them to a life of service to marginalized communities both locally and abroad.


The senior selection, Just Mercy, is a deep dive into America’s justice system as told by Bryan Stevenson, who has worked for justice reform for almost twenty years. Though the selection was made in early March 2020, this text took on a deeper meaning as the calls to dismantle the systems of oppression for people of color in the country grew louder. To this end, the English Department engaged in reading and discussion guided by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) on best practices to address issues of race within the classroom. They also hope to engage in discussion with our many SHA alumnae who serve as judges within the state of Kentucky to learn more of their call to serve in the field of law and justice.

Sacred Heart Model School

Every SHMS faculty and staff Professional Development (PD) opportunity throughout the 2020-2021 academic year has focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  1. The majority of our teachers and staff are participating in campus-wide BAR-WE (Building Anti-Racist White Educators) group(s) and discussion.
  2. SHMS teachers and staff have participated in three Professional Development Training sessions led by Marian Vasser. Topics were Unconscious Bias, Microaggressions, and How To Have Difficult Conversations.
  3. SHMS teachers and staff participated in a presentation and discussion on racism with Fr. John Judie and Mrs. Anette Mandley Turner, Executive Director of Multicultural Ministry for the Archdiocese of Louisville, called "Everything You Wanted to Know About Having a Difficult Racial Conversation, But Were Afraid to Ask."
  4. The majority of the SHMS teachers and staff have attended a variety of PD opportunities outside of school on social and racial justice.
  5. A few SHMS teachers and staff are participating in the Just Faith Ministries: Faith and Racial Equity program.  It is a 10-week program that explores issues around race and equity.
  6. SHMS teachers and staff are participating on the District DE&I committee and serve on district and sub-committees.
SHMS implemented numerous projects, speakers, and activities throughout the curriculum to increase cultural competency and address diversity, equity, and inclusion through education. Examples include:
  1. Level 7 students participated in the Global Read Aloud reading the book Stamped From the Beginning.
  2. In L7 and L8 'Individuals and Societies' courses, SHMS students completed a unit about the long fight for women’s suffrage. They wrote editorials urging citizens to exercise and appreciate their right to vote considering past discrimination that prevented certain groups from exercising this right.
  3. SHMS will have several L8 students attending We Day-sponsored roundtable discussions on Community Health & Well-Being, Environmental Justice and Racial Equity, Educational Equity, Equity for all. 
  4. Numerous L8 community projects and MSA bills were aimed at addressing social justice issues.  Examples include the elimination of the pink tax and poetry written to advocate for compassion for the community.
  5. All the L5 Exhibition projects are tied to a United Nations sustainable goal.
  6. Jailyn Stewart, who uses art to spread a message of social justice, was a guest speaker in SHMS art classes.
  7. L7 is completing a unit about refugees in religion.  Their summative assessment is to use the design cycle and the information from research to create a product that could be useful to Louisville refugees as they attempt to acclimate to their new life here.

Sacred Heart Preschool

Over the last few years, SHP has built into their calendar early dismissal days for students, so that faculty could participate in Professional Development.  The professional development provided to faculty and staff is a continuum of learning designed to prepare the teachers to work with and support the students and their families, as well as ongoing experiences to enhance themselves. These opportunities facilitate their knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions as early childhood professionals.

SHP teachers and staff have participated in three Professional Development Training sessions led by Marian Vasser. Topics were Unconscious Bias, Microaggressions, and How To Have Difficult Conversations; and participated in a presentation and discussion on racism with Fr. John Judie and Mrs. Anette Mandley Turner, Executive Director of Multicultural Ministry for the Archdiocese of Louisville, called "Everything You Wanted to Know About Having a Difficult Racial Conversation, But Were Afraid to Ask."

Below is a summary of our work this past year, from Michele Hemenway Pullen, SHP’s Professional Development partner:

“For nearly a year, beginning in March 2020, the Sacred Heart Preschool faculty and staff have undertaken a consensus-driven, faculty-led self-study. After much consultation with trainer, Michele Hemenway Pullen, the faculty agreed to a year-long exhaustive look at their practices and approach based upon the foundation of development in Early Childhood.

They began with a study of their literacy practices via two texts, “More Than the ABCs,” a NAEYC publication, and “No More Letter of the Week,” a Heineman Publishing textbook for teachers. As a result of this study, we began to also look at Early Childhood development with a focus on Social-Emotional and Cognitive areas, ages Birth–Five, those being the ages served by the school.

Following that, we examined, Racial Socialization development via two texts for children, “Antiracist Baby” and “Not My Idea.” In these areas, we examined how we are presenting content related to all children in terms of racial identity. We then examined our content areas of Science and Math, and most recently, the Arts. We will conclude this content self-study with documentation of our Social Studies curriculum activities, thus concluding the year-long process.

This study was taken on by agreement with faculty that over many years of training in new practices, it became important to look at ways those are being integrated as well as supported by an understanding of the developing child. The self-study process has been comprehensive and exhaustive in nature with multiple pieces of documentation now available for use in communication with parents, new teachers, and one another. It has given the faculty a common language in order that practices and rationale are consistent across the ages and classrooms while, at the same time, providing freedom for each teacher to bring their unique talents and knowledge. It is in that balance any school finds that it can provide reliable information for parents and new teachers, as well as honor the existing wealth of wisdom in individual teachers. Both are essential to serving young children with integrity.

As the trainer involved in reading documentation, self-study, and reflection, it has been my privilege and honor to stand on this very sacred ground with these teachers. As a lifelong teacher myself, I recognize the energy, devotion, and intellect it takes to undertake this work. Doing it this school year is heroic and that is not an exaggeration. The leadership, faculty, and supporting staff are to be commended. The preschool should be proud of its accomplishment and celebrate it.

You have committed to being a place of decency, joy, and future-oriented developmentally sound practices.

We have hope for a brighter community thanks to the faculty of SHP!”

Respectfully submitted,
Michele Hemenway Pullen

SHP also asked faculty to assess their environments after the holiday break.  As part of the broader goals of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and as professional development unique to SHP, SHP has really taken a deeper dive into this area this year.  Faculty, staff, and administration worked with our PD coach to create an environmental assessment tool specific to inclusion and representation. The teachers used this to assess their classroom environment “through a different lens”.

Checking the Environment for Inclusion and Representation


  • Does the door/entrance WELCOME each person who enters? How does it do that?
  • If not, what does it need?


The WALLS and Hallways

  • What’s ON the walls?
  • Who is on the walls? Who and what is NOT on the walls?
  • How much is on the walls?
  • Start by examining each and every item that’s up in your classroom.



  • In general, is the room flexible?
  • Can the seating be arranged based upon the nature of classroom activity?
  • Are the activities of the classroom balanced in terms of teacher /student voices?
  • Is there a process in place that ensures being heard and/or seated in a space that suggests the nature of required participation?



  • Where are they?
  • What’s on the walls in them?
  • What books, music, etc. are in them?


BOOKS/ READING MATERIALS/Artistic work/Music all curriculum content materials
This is a task that is monumental and needs a set of eyes that evaluates these over time.

  • Start with textbooks which students use most frequently or any other materials used.
    What’s there, what’s missing?
  • Who is represented? How are they represented?
  • Do the roles of varied individuals shift and change?
  • Are the real-world experiences of varied individuals and their self-identified group represented?
  • Who is telling the story?
  • What images appear?



  • WHO are the evaluators and what training and qualifications do they have?
  • In the area of Racial Socialization, it is helpful if someone is able to evaluate, in the process, train others.
    • Who on the faculty can do this work?
    • Can faculty address issues with one another or do they need someone to work with them who is in an objective role?
  • It is CRUCIAL that all processes are documented and carefully communicated. Who is going to do that work?

It generally helps if we identify three areas:

  1. Need to go: very clearly problematic, given what we now understand
  2. Problematic areas that can be identified and discussed with students and students can be involved in redirection/redesign, thereby allowing them to become discriminating readers/viewers
  3. What needs to stay and/or be ADDED that is not there currently?