Early Childhood Ed. Alum Ms. Kayla Torquato Works with Colleagues Toward Culturally Responsive Curriculum

Ms. Kayla TorquatoSchool of Education alum Ms. Kayla Torquato works with her colleagues to ensure the curriculum at Urban Pathways K5 College Charter School is culturally responsive to all their students. Ms. Torquato and colleagues are taking a deep dive looking at the curriculum and reaching out to young educators to form a think tank for this mission. Their flyer reads, "If a curriculum does not respond to a culture, then the culture won't respond to a curriculum."

Early Childhood Education alum Ms. Kayla Torquato (B.S. Ed. '19) works with first graders at Urban Pathways K5 College Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh as a teacher's assistant and she collaborates with fellow faculty and administrators on the Race & Equity Committee that formed the "Culturally Responsive Curriculum Committee." Ms. Torquato is committed to developing herself as an educator and is invested in enhancing her community. During her time in Duquesne's School of Education, Torquato's instructor and student teaching experience mentor was Dr. Patricia Sheahan. Dr. Sheahan works with students in a community-engaged teaching style in which her classes focus on specific social justice issues in the surrounding community and finding ways to engage and partner with the community to make a positive impact through education.

Ms. Torquato along with the committee's organizer, Mrs. Ashley Wagner (K-5 ELA and Math Instructional Coach), and the rest of the members look to redesign the school's curriculum to be more culturally responsive to the students' needs. The committee developed the following working definition of culturally responsive:

Culturally Responsive- Adapting teaching to our understanding of brain research, physical activity, prior knowledge, and other factors to respond to the cultural needs and backgrounds of the population that we serve.

Their committee's work involves exploring the current curriculum, evaluating it, and reaching out to local universities to ask future educators to brainstorm what it means for a curriculum to be culturally responsive via Zoom. They are extending an invitation to university education students to share thoughts and ideas during biweekly Zoom meetings.

Thank you Ms. Torquato for your meaningful work, and Dr. Sheahan for your inspiration. If you are interested in learning more about the work Urban Pathways K5 College Charter School is doing regarding the "Culturally Responsive Curriculum Committee" connect with Ms. Kayla Torquato at ktorquato@upcsk5.net.