Date: February 17, 2021
Time: 4:00 pm EST
Length: 60 minutes

Culturally responsive teaching is a strategy that supports students and teachers in cross-cultural classrooms. When students see their backgrounds and cultures represented in the classroom, they tend to gain more understanding of the content. Because they can see themselves in their work, their learning becomes more meaningful, and they become more engaged in both their learning and their classroom community.

In this webinar, a panel of experienced Responsive Classroom educators will discuss strategies to present lessons and activities so that students find personal meaning in what they are learning. Our panel will include Dr. Crystal Cooper Thompson, Rashid Abdus-Salaam, Cory Wade, and Dinna Wade-Ardley and will be moderated by Amber Searles.

Participants will: 
  • Learn the benefits of inviting students’ cultural backgrounds into the classroom
  • Explore ways to ensure students’ cultures are constantly alive in their learning environment
  • Connect Responsive Classroom strategies with cultural responsiveness
  • Have the opportunity to submit questions on this topic before and during the webinar 
Meet the Panelists




Amber SearlesAmber Searles is currently a program developer and consultant at Center for Responsive Classroom. She began her education career as a middle school business education teacher. Implementing Responsive Classroom practices and strategies allowed her to receive the Teacher of the Year award from her school district and community members. She enjoys creating content and products that empower teachers to foster hope in their students and build communities in which students feel empowered by the work they produce. Amber believes deeply in the power of teaching academic, social, and emotional skills to equip students both in and out of school. She is thrilled to be supporting teachers and students both nationally and internationally. When she is not working, Amber enjoys watching movies, reading, playing with her dog, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing on the beach.




Rashid Abdus-SalaamRashid Abdus-Salaam is a Consulting Teacher with the Center for Responsive Schools. He is a current doctoral student with seven years of teaching experience under his belt. Rashid is also a co-contributing author of the book Seeing the Good in Students. He holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum Instruction and a B.A. in History. Rashid has a great love for the educational theory of cognitive growth through social interactions. He also has a passion for creating opportunities to develop the whole-child learning approach through positive team building. He is a former basketball coach and religious studies coordinator who takes pride in bringing students of various backgrounds to unite on one common goal. In his leisure time, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, listening to podcasts, and writing poetry. His vision is to continue to utilize the Responsive Classroom approach in his new role on the SEL committee at Nashville International Academy.



Dr. Crystal Cooper ThompsonDr. Crystal Cooper Thompson is a former Teacher of the Year and 21-year veteran instructional leader. She has gained a reputation as a passionate thought leader who leads with intention, insight, and grace. Her Responsive Classroom journey began while teaching in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1997. She was coached by founders Ruth Charney, Chip Wood, and Marlynn Clayton and became a consulting teacher in 2000. After seven years teaching grades 1 to 4, Dr. Cooper worked as a reading coach for two low-performing schools. Since moving to Georgia in 2005, she has worked as an intervention teacher, literacy coach/coordinator, and assistant principal. In 2012, she began her principalship at a Title I school in Gwinnett County. She earned her bachelor’s from William Paterson University, master’s from the University of Georgia, specialist degree from the University of West Georgia, and doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Georgia. Her hobbies include community service, shopping, singing, dancing, spending time with family, and exploring new places.  


Cory WadeCory Wade is a certified Responsive Classroom teacher and consulting teacher for Center for Responsive Schools (CRS). He has a master’s degree in education, is pursuing his educational administration license, and has worked as an adjunct professor at North Central University in Minneapolis since 2012. As a teacher in Bloomington Public Schools in Minnesota for 13 years, Cory has experience teaching first, second, and third grade. Upon his first exposure to Responsive Classroom early in his career, Cory quickly developed a passion for the transformative mindset and practices surrounding the approach and has since traveled nationally and internationally to train educators in adopting a similar focus that supports all students in learning. Cory has witnessed the positive impact the Responsive Classroom approach has had on his students, families, and co-workers through implementation of the core beliefs, principles, and practices.



Dinna Wade-ArdleyDinna Wade-Ardley was born in Clovis, New Mexico. Without consistent adult support – and in spite of danger, hardship, and homelessness – she survived. She has five exceptional children and eight brilliant grandchildren, and she strives to ensure that her blood legacy will not repeat her life’s path. Dinna has been a single mother who has struggled to make ends meet from day to day; therefore, she understands and empathizes with many of her students’ current realities. She believes that education is one of the only ways to lift yourself up and live your best life. Dinna has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in educational leadership, and a K-12 principal’s license. Dinna holds many certificates and certifications in equity, diversity, and exceptional leadership. She has been an employee of Bloomington Public Schools for 29 years.