HRC’s Welcoming Schools Program Offers Facilitator Certification

Post submitted by Charles Girard, HRC Welcoming Schools Coordinator

Now more than ever, it is crucial that adults be allies to LGBTQ youth in their communities. In the hours after Donald Trump was elected President, calls to The Trevor Project’s suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth more than doubled. In this difficult time for many LGBTQ youth, HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is proud to recognize community advocates who are going above and beyond to best assist schools in becoming inclusive and welcoming for all students.

Last year, Welcoming Schools launched the Facilitator Certification Program, a program designed to train facilitators from across the nation how to utilize Welcoming Schools training modules with K-12 schools across the nation.  Thirty participants, including community advocates and educators from across the country, convened at HRC’s office in Washington, D.C. for three days. After receiving training and coaching, facilitators returned to their communities to provide local schools, organizations and school districts with professional development that increased educators skills and knowledge to create more LGBTQ-inclusive learning environments.

Welcoming Schools congratulates the first participants in the inaugural Facilitator Certification Training that have worked toward earning National Certification with the Welcoming Schools Program:

  • Brian Juchems, Senior Director of Education and Policy at GSAFE, serving the state of WI
  • Melissa Tempel, Bilingual Teacher at Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Sharon Chappell, Associate Professor at California State University Fullerton
  • Steven Chen, Senior Equity Manager at Boston Public Schools

To achieve certification, Facilitators must deliver a minimum of 12 hours of professional development training to educators, maintain consistently positive training evaluations, and be excellent ambassadors of Welcoming Schools.

Juchems and Tempel have worked with the Mt. Horeb Primary and Intermediate Learning Centers in Wisconsin, the sites of an incredible outpouring of love and support for a transgender girl last year. They have also provided training to Milwaukee Public Schools Teacher’s Union members and attendees of the Wisconsin Educators Network for Social Justice information.

Chappell has provided support and training to elementary schools in California as well as partnering with California’s LGBT Center in Orange County to host a three-day conference for education professionals.

Chen diligently worked with countless Boston Public Schools elementary school communities at both the school and district level, offering over 50 hours of training and technical assistance to the district in the last year.

Tempel, a classroom teacher, says the intersectional Welcoming Schools approach is “essential to being a social justice educator,” and that the program is accessible for all levels of understanding amongst training participants. She described a “veteran teacher” who was “blown away” by the information in the Welcoming Schools training modules and informed Tempel that she was “completely out of her comfort zone.” “This teacher,” continued Tempel, “came back every single day of the training,” and was able to learn the material at a pace that felt comfortable and effective.

“All of our facilitators were already incredible advocates in their communities.  Welcoming Schools is honored to have the opportunity to provide participants in the Facilitator Certification Program with access to our training modules,materials, and resources,” said Welcoming Schools director Johanna Eager. “We have received consistently positive evaluations  from schools that have had the opportunity to work with Welcoming Schools facilitators to effectively foster safer school climates across the country.”

Interested in inviting a facilitator to your school? Want to become a facilitator yourself? Click here to learn more about the program.

HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools and supporting transgender and non-binary students. We envision a day when all schools will truly be Welcoming Schools.

Pictured above: Newly certified facilitator Brian Juchems at the Facilitator Certification Program held in October 2015 at HRC headquarters.