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Session Title: Framing Your T.R.U.T.H.
Speaker: Denise Davis-Cotton, Author / Educator, USF Center for PAInT
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Session description: This presentation of the Davis-Cotton T.R.U.T.H. Framework identifies ways of addressing cultural insensitivities, stereotypes, and microaggressions that affect the mental health and wellness of minoritized populations. Teacher and learner engagement is necessary for creating and sustaining culturally relevant and barrier-free learning environments. Hence, socio-cultural consciousness helps faculty and staff establish relationships that will afford opportunities to engage diverse students. Focusing on culture as an asset, this framework invites openings for increased understanding along with five levels of self-reflection and self-development that reveal one’s dispositions, beliefs and experiences. It is designed to be used as a measure for progression and growth to conceptualize cultural identity and the ability to connect on intellectual and emotional/psychological levels with students of differing perspectives. The outcome is to make connections with marginalized students in ways that can positively shift misaligned teaching and learning by creating a sense of belonging and well-being in classroom environments. Within this context, faculty and staff discover approaches to embrace differences in student identities (such as race, language, gender, socio-economic status, etc,) that affect the educational community unfavourably; namely, culturally marginalized academic content and historical stereotypes and biases that formed policy changes to mediate the legal and social ills associated with educational inequities. The Davis-Cotton T.R.U.T.H. Framework is useful for professionals in academia who seek to:

  • Recognize societal myths (of self and others).
  • Identify improvement strategies that benefit all students of differing abilities and perspectives.
  • Create new and meaningful relationships from Teaching to Healing.
  • Connect the T.R.U.T.H. Framework® to classrooms and programs.

Bio:  Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton is recognized as a leading authority in arts-integrated teaching. and she is an accomplished curriculum designer that concentrates on cultural-inclusive education, arts as central to education, and new school/program development. She is the Director of the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (Center for PAInT) at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. She currently serves as the Ex Officio Chair of the Manatee Arts Education Council (MAEC). Dr. Cotton is a Milken Foundation internationally recognized educator. She served as the National Past President of Arts Schools Network, where she is an active Board member. Dr. Cotton is the Founder and served as the first principal of the Detroit School of Arts. She is the author of the book, Losing My Mind over Education (Finding My Way Back to Me). She has established a reputation as an extremely capable, effective, community and civic leader, and representative for comprehensive arts-integrated education to provide access, equity, inclusion, equitable practices, and a sense of belonging for marginalized students. Her demonstration of the highest level of professional commitment allows her to share with others her belief in the importance of socio-cultural engagement in teaching and learning; thereby, garnering her the distinct honour as a woman of vision, keen insight, and action. She received the Alan Locke National Award from the Detroit Institute of Arts; two Keys to the City of Montgomery (Alabama) and she received the Congressional Record Recognition by the 106th Congress. She is a Distinguished Alumni – at Alabama State University and Educator of the Year – at Wayne State University. Arts Schools Network presents an award “The Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton Emerging Leader Award” for school leaders who promote sustaining arts programs in their schools.