Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

WSU PROFESSOR NOMINATED FOR GRAWEMEYER AWARD IN EDUCATION

Westfield State University English Professor Sophia Sarigianides, Ph.D., co-author of the book Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature Instruction for White Students with Carlin Borsheim-Black, Ph.D., has been nominated for the Grawemeyer Award in Education.

The award winner will be selected by a committee in 2021 and will receive a $100,000 prize. “The Grawemeyer Award in Education, administered by the University of Louisville since 1988, is intended to stimulate thoughtful discussion and implementation of ideas that have potential to have a positive impact on educational practice,” said Dr. Jeffrey C. Valentine, director of the Grawemeyer Award in Education in the University of Louisville’s College of Education & Human Development.

In Letting Go, the authors use classroom examples to offer discipline-specific practices for implementing antiracist literature instruction in white-dominant schools.  

“We poured everything we had into this book and hoped it would reach the hands of teachers, since it was a book we needed as teachers ourselves,” said Professor Sarigianides. “To now have our work be considered for this honor, we could not have imagined this. We hope word of the nomination brings attention to just how much work we need to do in white-dominant schools to address our nation’s problems with racism, and that there are clear steps teachers can take to begin this journey.”

Dr. Borsheim-Black, an associate professor of English language and literature at Central Michigan University, added, “I have been grappling with the challenges and possibilities of teaching about racism through literature study for many years, so collaborating on this book with Sophia has been a dream come true. Seeing it in the hands of teachers—and being nominated for this award—is both thrilling and humbling.” 

Westfield State University’s teacher education program recently received a seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, respected, and growing work in antiracist education. Westfield State is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization. For more information, click here.

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