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Chaparral 2022-2023: 31.4 Garfield Matters

Garfield Matters
DEIA at Garfield

by Andres Cruz
Noncredit ESL


Special thanks to Tatevik Atalyan, Janelle Delgado, Krista Raimondo Limon, Robert Seaborne, and Rosemarie Shamieh for sharing their inspirational examples.


A pivotal movement helping educational institutions reflect on what it takes to provide effective learning is diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). To begin with, DEIA offers a toolbox to build a more disruptive pedagogy that inspires faculty and staff to become culturally responsive. Also, DEIA advocates for historically underserved communities, such as undocumented, disabled, and formerly incarcerated students. Furthermore, DEIA creates the right mindset and skills required to meet the needs of today’s diverse populations, like war refugees and asylum seekers (Li & Qin, 2022). Most importantly, DEIA celebrates multiple identities and experiences, which empower historically marginalized demographics, such as LGBTQI+ students. The positive outcomes that DEIA has offered to the Garfield community are profound.

What Do We Mean by Diversity?
Diversity is a practice of care that celebrates students’ different backgrounds. According to Li and Jee (2021), schools can increase diversity by developing “intersectional competence” that encompasses the ability to identify different sociocultural group categories and markers of difference, like race and ethnicity. This practice helps “understand the systems of oppression and marginalization that occur at the intersection of multiple differences” (p. 127). Dr. Krista Raimondo Limon is Garfield’s Community Outreach Coordinator, and she promotes diversity through cultural competence. Dr. Raimondo Limon recently facilitated an event to support the Ukrainian community of Garfield, so they can experience a deeper sense of community. Dr. Raimondo Limon said, “when I teach, I foster a sense of belonging by arranging an in-person gathering at a local park, where students can bring their children. This activity helps humanize our online class, and it helps students forge supportive information networks.”

Why Does Equity Matter?
Equity-minded curricula propel the social mobility of underprivileged students. According to Cochran-Smith et al. (2016), the first task schools should consider is conceptualizing educational inequality and the role of teacher education in challenging inequality. This practice can guarantee curricula and structures that are equity-centered and tailored to local patterns of inequality. Robert Seaborne teaches level 3 English as an Additional Language for the Avancemos Program. Professor Seaborne focuses on supporting disproportionately impacted Spanish-speaking students to compete in today’s labor market by merging Spanish support and vocational skills. Professor Seaborne says the job interview process is often new for students. Thus, job interview preparation and work-related vocabulary create an equitable learning environment, which increases economic stability for students and their families. Also, Garfield’s Business and Life-Skills Division nurtures an equitable learning experience. According to Professor Shamieh, the Business Division provides resources, services, and community engagement that create an equitable academic journey. The Business Division’s vocational programs are designed to help marginalized students reach their full potential and contribute to a more equitable workforce.

Inclusion is the Key
Inclusion is the key to addressing the needs of all students, regardless of background, language, and learning style. Tatevik Atalyan is a Teacher’s Aide at Garfield, who promotes inclusion during her tutoring sessions by providing language support in Spanish, Armenian, Russian, and English. At the beginning of her tutoring sessions, Tatevik encourages English language learners (ELLs) to share upcoming holidays in their cultures. This practice generates cultural competence and helps challenge negative stereotypes. Tatevik said, “this also helps create an inclusive mindset and prepare students to welcome newly arrived ELLs with warm greetings.” Atkinson (2014), argues that a major roadblock immigrant communities of color experience is a lack of inclusion when negotiating a new skill set, a new culture, and a new sense of identity. Therefore, inclusion yields the cultural competency necessary to counterclaim false narratives, such as students of color “not having what it takes to succeed.”

Accessibility = Success
The Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) support students with disabilities and raise awareness about ableism. DSPS counselors make information more accessible and easy to digest, so students with disabilities can achieve the same knowledge and skills as other students. Kangas (2017) suggests that opportunities for ELLs with disabilities improve when schools focus on learning and special services in parity. Thus, schools should focus on teachers’ interdisciplinary knowledge about the needs and rights of students with disabilities. For Janelle Delgado, a DSPS Counselor at Garfield, it is important to always be open to new ideas and ways of doing things when collaborating with teachers to support students with disabilities. Janelle stated that teachers and counselors needed to have an in-depth understanding of the roles both play in increasing academic success for students with disabilities.

The literature suggests that DEIA provides an effective framework that successfully challenges the systemic systems that put some students at a place of disadvantage. And the voices from the agents of social change at the Garfield Campus show that DEIA has become one of their hallmarks for justice in continuing education.


Atkinson, M. (2014). Reframing literacy in adult ESL programs : making the case for the inclusion of identity. Literacy & Numeracy Studies, 22(1), 3–20.

Cochran-Smith, M., Ell, F., Grudnoff, L., Haigh, M., Hill, M., & Ludlow, L. (2016). Initial teacher education: What does it take to put equity at the center? Teaching and Teacher Education, 57, 67–78.

Kangas, S. E. N. (2017). “That’s where the rubber meets the road”: The intersection of special education and dual language education. Teachers College Record (1970), 119(7), 1–36.

Li, G., & Qin, K. (2022). Supporting and advocating for immigrant and refugee students and families in America’s urban schools: Educators’ agency and practices in everyday instruction. Urban Education (Beverly Hills, Calif.), 4208592210826–.

Li, G., & Jee, Y. (2021). Pan-Diversity integration as an equity trap: Lessons from preservice teachers’ preparation for teaching English language learners in a predominantly white institution in the United States. Teachers College Record (1970), 123(12), 125–154.

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