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Temple ISD launches new program that focuses on cultural awareness

The program called, "Cat Chats," allows staff members to learn about social issues and relate to students of all backgrounds.

Temple Independent District created on a new program called, "Cat Chats" in the spring, and it is set to launch on October 15.

The program will be a monthly, hour-long meeting for any staff member who wishes to participate. There, they will learn about social issues and challenges and how they can respond, culturally, in the classroom.

"Temple ISD is very diverse and we are proud of that," Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott said. "But being there is a difference between being diverse and culturally responsive."

After issues and challenges arose throughout 2020, the district wanted to make sure administrators could relate to every single student. 

"Seeing some of the social justice issues going on around us and seeing this happening to our students and families, we started thinking in the summer how can we respond," Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Activity Dr. Lisa Adams said. 

A group of administrators went through a training process in the spring that gave them information to share on specific topics that will be covered, which then can be translated to students of all ages. 

"We want students to be able to sit in the classroom and directly relate to the content," Ott said. "No matter what their background no matter what their cultural experiences are." 

The Cat Chats will be done through Microsoft Teams. At first, they will be one large ground, but according to Adams, they may eventually break out into smaller groups based on grade levels taught. 

"We are going to start in October by talking about the mindset surrounding race," said Adams. "Then we are going to talk about some of the barriers and structures that are in place."

As of right now, the program has around 70 participants. They are also working on a future program. The new program will be geared toward the emotional and social well-being of teachers, focusing on minority teachers.

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