Cultural Community Ambassadors
Albemarle County Community Partnership
Cultural Community Ambassadors (CCA) is a 2012 Albemarle County initiative with the Office of Community Engagement that works to increase positive visibility of minority role models. Ambassadors from the community will model the sheer importance of reading and metacognitive thinking during the read-aloud process. Every student should have the opportunity to see someone of the same ethnicity fostering a love for literacy. This is equally important for students who are not minorities as they develop a multidimensional perspective of other cultural groups.
See CCAs in the News!» Check out the CCA Blog! »
ACPS elementary media specialists play an important role in making CCA
visits possible. They will utilize their library time for read-alouds and
cultural discussions by working closely with the Diversity Resource Teachers
and classroom teachers. Our goal is to make this opportunity available as
frequently as we can for all ACPS elementary schools.
The Division’s life-long learning standards, culturally responsive characteristics, mission, vision and goals are addressed:
- This program will open doors of real life experiences for students to connect with minorities from the community.
- This program approach reinforces strategies to encourage students to use their cultural knowledge and prior experiences to make learning more appropriate and effective for them.
- The program allows teachers will show how they recognize and value the cultures represented by the students in their classrooms, school and community.
- The program encourages teachers to value sensitivity and cultural context of the various cultures represented by the students in their classrooms, school and community.
- The program establishes opportunities for teachers to prepare all students to succeed as members of a global community and in a global economy by their awareness of attitudes needed to succeed in the multi-cultural, fast-changing global community.” (These skills include cultural competency and multicultural awareness. CCA works to expose children to diverse representations of success.)
- Seek, recognize and understand systems, patterns, themes, and interactions. (Students will develop a more in-depth understanding of various cultural norms and analyze important cultural contributions).
- Demonstrate ethical behavior and respect for diversity through daily actions and decision-making. (As students gain new knowledge about different cultures, they will cultivate a greater sense of respect for the cultural plight of others).
- Through these presentations, students will develop a deeper understanding of societal structures while fully participating in civic life.
Current Cultural Community Ambassadors
Hispanic Heritage Text Ambassador
Gloria currently works in the ACPS Office of Community Engagement. She fluently speaks Spanish and works to support a number of initiatives that serve Hispanic families in Albemarle County.
Preferred Days - Tuesdays
African American Text Ambassadors
"For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in Henrico, Virginia, but now I live here in Charlottesville. I'm a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia and am studying Elementary Education and History. I am also a teaching fellow with the African-American Teaching Fellows. In my spare time I enjoy trying new restaurants, practicing yoga, and traveling."
Preferred Days - Monday & Wednesday 8am-12pm, Tuesday & Thursday 9am-11am
Robert Gest III
"Retired Air Force Colonel, Doctorate from Virginia Tech, Adjunct Professor at Federal Executive Institute; serve on JABA Board of Directors, PVCC Educational Foundation Board, Member of Citizens Advisory Committee, active member of NAACP"
Preferred Days - Schedule by Request
"I retired from the Albemarle County School System in 2009 after forty great years. I taught at Jackson P. Burley Middle School for twenty-eight years, was Assist Principal there for nine years, and Principal for three years. I have a BA in Music Education and Masters in Administration and Supervision. My special interests are: Live Theatre, Classical Music as well as Blues and some Pop. I enjoy playing the piano and organ (especially for church), and I love to travel. A special love of my life are my two grandsons, Jordan and Jayden."
Preferred Days - Monday and Thursday mornings after 9:40 a.m.
"Retired librarian, Albemarle County School System."
Preferred Days - Monday Mornings
"I am an x-ray technologist at the University of Virginia. I am married, and have one daughter who will graduate from Old Dominion University in December. I enjoy reading. I also love musicals, both live performances and films. My favorite TV programs are Jeopardy! and Big Bang Theory. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors."
Preferred Days - The last Tuesday afternoon of each month
Set Up a CCA Visit
Please contact Leslie Wills-Taylor to arrange a Cultural Ambassador visit in your classroom. Once you and the ambassador have confirmed your visit, please fill in your visit time slot here. The Office of Community Engagement will be using this information to record visit frequencies per school.
(Note: You must be an ACPS domain member in order to sign in to the time slot google document linked above)
What We Are Reading
We have chosen a set of African American books for the upper elementary Ambassadors and a focus on the Hispanic Heritage for the lower elementary readers.
African American Read Aloud Set
- Ron's Big Mission by Corinne Naden
- Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
- Sit-In (How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down) by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
- Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull
- The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
- The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy
Hispanic Heritage Set:
- Yum Mmmm Que'Rico America's Sproutings by Pat Mora
- Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales
- The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora
- Confetti by Pat Mora
- A Birthday Basket for Tia by Pat Mora
- Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
- Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley
- Book Fiesta by Pat Mora
Retired Colonel, Dr. Robert Gest with 5th Grade Teacher Beth Roesch at Baker-Butler Elementary.
Ms. Maria Santana with 1st Grade Teacher Melissa Sysling at Baker Butler Elementary.
Ms. Nancy Malloy with 2nd Grade Teacher Lisa Harman at Baker-Butler Elementary.
Ms. Rosae Pack with 3rd Grade Teacher Angel James at Hollymead Elementary.
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author…. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books… When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part. Our classrooms need to be places where all the children from all the cultures that make up the salad bowl of American society can find their mirrors.”
~Rudine Sims Bishop