Monday / December 11
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Becki Cohn-Vargas, EdD, has more than 35 years of experience as a teacher, principal, curriculum director, and superintendent. In each setting, she focused on educational equity and effective strategies for diverse populations. Her educational mission is ensuring identity safe classrooms where teachers strive to assure students that their social identities are an asset rather than a barrier to success in the classroom. Partnering with identity safety researcher Dorothy Steele, she coauthored Identity Safe Classrooms Grades K–5: Places to Belong and Learn; followed by Identity Safe Classrooms Grades 6–12: Pathways to Belonging and Learning, with Alex Creer Kahn and Amy Epstein. Her third book, co-authored with Kahn, Epstein, and Kathe Gogolewski, Belonging and Inclusion in Identity Safe Schools: A Guide for Educational Leaders, focuses on school transformation and was published August 17, 2021. Currently, Becki is an independent consultant and presenter. She was hosted at the White House by President Obama’s Education Staff and has worked to create inclusive climates in over 150 schools across the U.S.

Paula Rabideaux is the Culturally Responsive Practices Technical Assistance Coordinator at the Wisconsin RtI Center.  Her Menominee name, Kamewanukiw (kuh-may-wih-new-kee), translates to “Rain Woman; she’s a Menominee Nation Turtle Clan member. Becki Cohn-Vargas approached Ms. Rabideaux to identify ways to support identity safety for Native American students. With a career devoted to culturally responsive teaching, she knows the importance of belonging first-hand. As a young child, she felt unseen and invisible at a school where most students were white. However, everything changed after transferring to a Menominee school on the Reservation. When her culture was validated, she flourished and soared. She attributes the support she received there to her decision to attend the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and become the first graduate with a Native American Studies degree.