What a Wonderful World! A Celebration of Cultural Relevancy in Education Through Reading in Montgomery County

By Grace Kim, AmeriCorps member at The Community Foundation

On March 2, 2022, the Children’s Opportunity Fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation hosted a social media event ‘What a Wonderful World! A Celebration of Cultural Relevancy in Education through Reading in Montgomery County’.

The event was part of Read Across America Day -- the nation’s largest celebration of reading which inspires individuals, both young and old, to pick up a book and read.

This event was completely virtual, with videos being released on our social media platforms (@communityfndn) at the top of each hour from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Some inspiring takeaways from our spotlights were:

  • Helen Winder, program coordinator for Wheaton Woods Imagination Library program, explained how "culturally relevant books help children shape their identities." The Wheaton Woods Imagination Library program coordinator, provides free books for young students ages 0-5.

  • Cultural relevancy is "not a zero-sum game" where "some groups will lose and others will gain. No one loses, we all gain," from Diego Uruburu, who co-founded the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Excellence and Equity and is the Executive Director of Identity Youth.

  • Shebra Evans, member of the MCPS Board of Education, shed light on the school district's "asset-approach to expanding culturally relevant literacy into the instruction and that means that we are viewing the skills, knowledge, background that each of our students bring to their educational experience and that we value it."

  • Myrna Peralta of CentroNía explained the influence of linguistic diversity on which educational resources are brought to classrooms with different language-speaking instructors. She also shared that it's a "natural developmental requirement that we acknowledge and promote the diversity with our children from a very early age." CentroNía incorporates bilingual and multicultural supports to provide quality early childhood education to students.

  • For the last segment of the event, Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz and MCPS Principal Shawaan Robinson read aloud Juana Martinez-Neal’s book, Alma and Her Name, in Spanish and English respectively.

Parents, students, and educators were encouraged to participate by using the hashtag ‘#ReadAcrossMoCo’ on social media. See below for the complete list of videos!


Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Story Tapestries

In this video, we spotlight nonprofit partner, Story Tapestries, and the creative ways that they promote cultural relevancy in learning.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Imagination Library

In this video, Helen Winder, Montgomery County Public School Parent Community Coordinator shares the impact that Wheaton Woods Imagination Library is having in the lives of children at Wheaton Woods Elementary.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity & Excellence

In this video, Diego Uruburu, co-founder of Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence shares what it means to be culturally relevant.

Community Partner Spotlight - Shebra Evans

In this video, Shebra Evans, Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education Member shares why cultural relevancy and literacy are so important to Montgomery County Public Schools.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - ISPOT

In this video, one family shares the impact that ISPOT, a Children's Opportunity Fund nonprofit partner, has had on their learning experience.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - CentroNia

In this video, Myrna Peralta, President and CEO of CentroNía shares the importance of incorporating cultural relevancy into everyday classroom learning.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Arts on the Block

In this video, Chris Barclay, Interim Executive Director at Arts on the Block explains how their program is supporting culturally relevant learning through the arts.

Read-Aloud in Spanish & English

In this video, Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County (MD) Council President and Shawaan Robinson, Montgomery County (MD) Public School Principal read "Alma and How She Got Her Name" by Juana Martinez-Neal.