Spotlight on Equity Education, Issue 6

celebration of diverse cultures in education depicted in 3D image of graduate

Welcome to the sixth issue of Spotlight on Equity Education! In this article, we’re highlighting Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and ACPS diversity resource teachers in special education. We’ll also talk about next steps and considerations for teachers pursuing a micro-credential or certification in Culturally Responsive Teaching.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

On February 26, 1987, President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613, making March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Success Ground in Individual Differences

Dr. Temple Grandin, who is an autism activist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, succinctly states, “Rigid academic and social expectations could wind up stifling a mind that, while it might struggle to conjugate a verb, could one day take us to distant stars.”

Non-verbal until age 3, Dr. Grandin fortunately had early access to speech therapy. Her science teacher was an important mentor who encouraged her interest in science. She is visually indexed, which helped her develop humane livestock handling facilities. You can learn more about Temple Grandin on her website at

Often we allow specific disabilities to fully define an individual, causing us to miss out on their strengths and talents. The life of Jhamak Ghimire highlights the error in this way of thinking. Jhamak Ghimire was one of the nine women in Nepal to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Denied access to schooling in her childhood, she overcame the challenges of being a disabled female in Nepal to become a journalist and poet. You can learn more about Jhamak Ghimire on ImNepal’s website, here: Everything About Nepali Writer Jhamak Ghimire Who Writes Life With Feet.

Untapped Potential of Your Students

Reach out to your special education peers to coordinate effective learning plans that best fit your students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Michael Phelps, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said, “I had a teacher tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would never be successful. So it was a challenge and it was a struggle, but for me, it was something I’m thankful happened. And I’m thankful that I am how I am.”

Special thanks to Michael Wagner, Secretary, Special Education Advisory Committee, for the above contribution.

ACPS Diversity Resource Teachers in Special Education

Each school in the division has a diversity resource teacher (DRT) tasked with supporting equity initiatives in their building. In honor of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we’d like to highlight our DRTs who serve Albemarle County students through special education: Martha Layman at Red Hill Elementary; Shonda Riddick at Burley Middle School; and Kristina Kilgallen at Western Albemarle High School.

Martha Layman
Martha Layman,
B-BASE Teacher, Red Hill Elementary School

Martha Layman teaches B-BASE (Building Appropriate Supports with Evidence – for Behavior) and says that one of the most rewarding aspects of her role is working with the same students over their full elementary experience. “The work we do is ‘long work’—we often don’t see results immediately, but over years,” Martha says. “I wish that all teachers could spend a day in my shoes so that they could see how amazing, smart, hilarious and caring our students are.”

One of her students was even the winner of the Red Hill Spelling Bee. Martha believes that if teachers could better see her work and that of her peers with their students, “it would enable teachers to see these students as ‘our students’ rather than ‘my students.’”

Thank you to Martha for contributing to our division’s mission to end the predictive value of race, class, gender, and special capacities for our children’s success.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Credentialing Updates

All candidates pursuing a micro-credential or certification in Culturally Responsive Teaching should have received a completed mid-year feedback document and a follow-up email from one of the division’s equity education specialists. If you are pursuing and have not received these communications, please email our team at

Any candidate who has yet to respond to their equity specialist to determine a time and manner to discuss their mid-year feedback and plan next steps should do so as soon as possible. Equity specialists will be available before, during and after the school day throughout March to meet and discuss your work.

CRT Credentialing Calendar

March 8 | Elementary and Secondary Division Cohort Meetings (Topics: “Documenting Impact” and “Putting It All Together”)

Holidays and Observances

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and Women’s History Month.

  • Purim: March 6 (sunset) – March 7 (nightfall)
  • Holi: March 8
  • International Women’s Day: March 8
  • St. Patrick’s Day: March 17
  • Ramadan: March 22 (evening) – April 21 (evening)

ACPS Equity Specialists are available to provide Professional Learning Community (PLC) and school-level support for Culturally Responsive Teaching practices and to assist in helping teachers work through the credentialing process. For support or assistance, please reach out to the specialist(s) assigned to your school or email the full equity specialist team.