Teaching Through Students, Not To Students:

Embodied equity within quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment

Join us for this  in-person event that features an opportunity for Lunch & Networking from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m, with presentation and dialogue to follow.


The learning cycle comes to life for each and every student when they feel seen, heard, and reflected in what they are learning, how the learning is facilitated, and how their learning is measured. Effective teaching and formative assessment can, and should, honor the students’ cultural identities and nervous system responses to learning as variables for adaptation. When we learn to value our own lived experiences, informed by and communicated through our bodies, we become more compassionate to the lived experiences and physical realities of others. When this happens in the classroom, outcomes are improved for all students.

Framing Questions

  1. What are the big ideas relating equity to measuring student learning?
  2. How does quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment champion equity?
  3. How does culturally responsible instruction and assessment look and feel?
Event Resources

Presenter: Heather Vaughan-Southard

Heather Vaughan-Southard is the Professional Learning Director for the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project (MAEIA) and a consultant for The Polyvagal Institute. As a former director of dance programs in K-12 and higher education, Vaughan-Southard represents the body within social-emotional learning and represents the arts as a critical component of a well-rounded education, honoring the wholeness of both children and educators.

Presenter: Nafeesah Symonette

Nafeesah Symonette is a champion of arts education and advocacy and has dedicated her research to focus on the intersection of arts education and culturally responsive teaching. Nafeesah recently received a DEI in the Workplace Certification from the University of South Florida, Muma College of Business and is passionate about using it to prepare practitioners in arts education as an Adjunct Professor at Oakland University and Eastern Michigan University. In 2011 Nafeesah was the recipient of the District of Columbia’s Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Visual Art Secondary Teaching. With twenty plus years in the field of arts education, including teaching experience and program development, Nafeesah is well versed in best practices for the art educators classroom. She has served as the Manager of Art Education at Paint Creek Center for the Arts in Rochester, Michigan and currently operates as a visual arts education consultant using her ability to think big to move arts education forward. Nafeesah is a board member of PuppetArt Detroit, a 501c3 non-profit that explores storytelling through the magic of puppetry. She is co-chair of the Anton Art Center’s I.D.E.A. Advisory Council and a member of the Michigan Council on the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Education Committee. Her goals are simple, to support the opportunity for access, outreach and expansion of the arts in an effort to improve individual and community outcomes. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing and painting, K-12 teaching certification and a Master of Art in Arts Administration from Eastern Michigan University. She

Presenter: Ellen Vorenkamp

Ellen Vorenkamp serves as the Professional Learning Director for the Michigan Assessment Consortium and is the Owner/Consultant of her own consulting company, MKJ Educational Consulting, LLC. In her role for the MAC, she contributes to the development of facilitation guides, learning maps and other instructional resources used in MAC programs and serves as lead faculty for the Assessment Learning Institute, Achieving Balance in Classroom Assessment programs, as well as other MAC offerings. Ellen has contributed to MDE’s FAME program since its inception and continues to serve as a FAME Lead. For the past 20+ years Ellen has focused her consulting and professional learning service on balanced assessment systems, assessment literacy, quality classroom summative assessment, the formative assessment process, grading and reporting, assessment in a PLC, and assessment inventories. Her 30ish year career started with teaching middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies. She has been an assistant principal and curriculum director, the project director for the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Charter School Office, and an Assessment Consultant at Wayne RESA. Ellen earned her Doctorate and Ed. Specialist degrees from Eastern Michigan University, her Masters in Curriculum and Assessment from Lesley University and her Bachelor’s in Secondary Education from Baylor University.

Presenter: Tara Kintz

Tara works as Research Associate for the Michigan Assessment Consortium on education initiatives to promote student centered learning and assessment literacy. Tara has a background of over 20 years working in education as a teacher, instructional coach, administrator, facilitator of professional development, and researcher. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy with a focus on Educational Leadership from MSU; teaching credentials with certificates in Special and Bilingual Education. Kintz has published articles on teaching, student engagement, educational leadership, and professional learning in peer-reviewed journals. She has also developed policy briefs and practitioner-focused resources for educators. She is currently working on research and the development of resources and program materials to give educators the tools they need to effectively implement the formative assessment process.

Learning Moments

LM-Big ideas relating equity to measuring student learning
LM-How does quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment champion equity?
LM-How does culturally responsible instruction and assessment look and feel?
ALN Session Chat: Teaching Through Students, Not To Students

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