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April 11, 2017
A Northwest Missouri State University student and two young students she helped mentor recently presented their social justice research to a state audience.
Megan Hummel, a senior majoring in elementary education and special education with a cross categorical emphasis, attended the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals Conference last month in Osage Beach, Missouri, with Nino Coniglio, a sixth grader at Northwest’s Horace Mann Laboratory School, and Boyd Gallaher, a Horace Mann fifth grader.
Accompanied by Horace Mann Principal Sandy Seipel, the students presented a session, titled “Social Justice: The Power of Student Voice,” during which they shared their work and ways to encourage students to find their voice to inspire changes.
The presentation was the result of work Horace Mann fifth and sixth graders completed last fall with instructor Sarah Winans to find issues they were passionate about, research them and develop ways to make a difference in their chosen areas. Students identified sources, consulted experts through interviews and prepared presentations.
Hummel was a practicum student in the class and worked closely with Winans to guide the instruction. She also developed a social justice activism rubric to assess student learning.
“The work that these students put into their projects came from their hearts and their own perspectives,” Hummel, a Kansas City, Missouri, native who graduates from Northwest this spring and will begin her teaching in Cameron next fall. “Even though we grow older and move on to different levels of schooling, as a person we should never stop learning. This project allowed the students to work hard every day on something that they were passionate about.”
Coniglio’s research found prevalent stereotyping in movies. He explained the need to discuss facts and stereotyping.
“This project changed me because I have a new perspective on movies and can see stereotypes easier now,” he said. “I can see the big picture and want to help companies to be aware of their stereotypes in films. We have a lot of big problems in the world that need to be addressed.”
Gallaher interviewed Northwest Director of Diversity and Inclusion Steve Bryant to gain insight into his topic of offensive costumes at Halloween. He said he discovered disturbing facts as he investigated the topic, and he hopes to continue learning and make changes.
“I have a different perspective about holidays and how they affect others,” Gallaher said. “Every time I see a costume I look to see if it is inappropriate. This social justice project changed me because it gave me an understanding of many of the problems in the world and even though we are fifth and sixth graders, we can tell a lot of people about these problems and change the world.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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