Harding Educators Earn University of Iowa Diversity Award

Two teachers at Harding Middle School are being presented with this year’s Phyllis Yager Memorial Commitment to Diversity Award by the University of Iowa College of Education.

Emily Lang and Kristopher Rollins are being honored for their work that goes “above and beyond in implementing important diversity initiatives which has impact on the students, families, community, and other staff” at Harding.

“Emily and Kris are two great examples of the innovative teachers in Des Moines whose work is making a difference with our students and in the community,” said Tom Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools and a former principal of Harding Middle School. “They are both leaders in helping our students succeed both in and out of the classroom.”

Lang and Rollins will receive a stipend to further their diversity initiatives, and are invited to make a presentation the University of Iowa College of Education Diversity Committee’s annual Beyond Tolerance Diversity Conference on April 11, 2013. 

The Phyllis A. Yager Memorial Commitment to Diversity Award recognizes educators who go above and beyond the required curriculum to increase diversity awareness. Yager is a University of Iowa alum who devoted her career to advocating multicultural opportunities and gender-affirming activities through her work as a teacher in the Iowa City School District and a consultant to the Grant Wood Area Education Agency

The two Harding teachers will use their award to expand a summer program for students entering 8th grade at seven Des Moines middle schools called Minorities on the Move. The goal of the class is to reach out to minority students and share Iowa’s history using the viewpoints of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. Through hip-hop and popular culture, this course will examine and dissect racial stereotypes, as well as the struggles and triumphs minorities continue to face. Funds will also be used to bring in a teaching artist to further build students’ writing and performing skills. The final component of the program includes a free performance for the community where students creatively display their learning through spoken-word performance.

For more information about Minorities on the Move, visit http://rundsm.org/.

Lang earned a BS in Secondary Education, a BA in English, and a MSE in Teacher Effectiveness and Professional Development, all from Drake University. She has been an instructor in Speech, English, and ELL English at North High School and is now an instructor in Speech & Drama, Hip-Hop: Rhetoric & Rhyme at Harding Middle School.

Rollins earned a BA in History with concentration in Education from Indiana University and a MA in Secondary Education Curriculum & Instruction from The University of Alabama. He has been an instructor of World History & Sign Language at Bradenton Academy in Bradenton, FL; a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama College of Education; an instructor of American History, Hip-Hop: A Look Into Social Roles, Interpretations and Expectations at the Woodward Academy in Woodward, IA; and an instructor of Literacy, Government, and Hip-Hop: Rhetoric & Rhyme at Harding Middle School.

NOTE: In their program “Bullying in Iowa Schools,” which aired last night, Iowa Public Television featured Harding Middle School and their success at anti-bullying efforts, which includes the work of Lang and Rollins. The IPTV feature on Harding can be viewed online at http://youtu.be/yn3w8T0dEMc.