FARMINGTON — Today’s educators are increasingly challenged to respond to the needs of diverse learners. To help them meet this challenge, University of Maine at Farmington is presenting its sixth annual Teaching and Working in A Diverse World Conference — “Expanding Our Understanding.” This half-day conference is free and open to the public and will take place from 11:50 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Friday, March 21, at venues around campus.

The conference opens with a keynote address titled “Mirrors and Lenses: Considering Race” by Anne Sibley O’Brien, children’s book creator, writer, illustrator and long-time diversity educator. With this interactive slide-talk, she will briefly explore individual racial histories, share the most recent findings on racial identity formation and offer ideas on navigating race in America in the 21st century.

“As our society becomes more diverse, it’s important that students feel comfortable, understood and respected in the classroom,” said Linda Gamble, UMF faculty member. This annual forum offers educators some insight into how to better understand student behaviors in their cultural context.”

O’Brien’s talent for telling stories featuring diverse children and global subjects had its beginnings in her childhood experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in South Korea. Her presentation will be held from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Lincoln Auditorium in the Roberts Learning Center.

An afternoon of lectures, discussions, instructional strategies, story-telling and activities presented by faculty and professionals in the field will follow the keynote. Presentation topics include multicultural and global education, autism, the use of picture books and song in the classroom and brain-based learning.

In addition, Robert Shetterly, notable artist and activist, and Connie Carter, founder of Operation Breaking Stereotypes, will present “Models of courageous Citizenship” a session to introduce teachers to the “Americans Who Tell the Truth” portrait series and offer them ways to challenge and empower their students.

The UMF Diversity Conference is sponsored by the UMF Office of the Associate Provost, Office of the Dean of Education, the UMF Student Education Association of Maine and the UMF Diversity Committee.

For a list of the conference session descriptions, presenters, times and locations, visit

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