A collaborative, community-based learning program organized during the pandemic aims to be a catalyst for education justice.
It’s called REGAL -- which stands for Relevant Education Grows All Learners. It’s a framework designed to support students of color by offering an inclusive learning space, led by adults in their own community. University of North Carolina Asheville professor Dr. Tiece Ruffin is one of the collaborators behind the effort.
"The REGAL framework disrupts the foundations of education that was built on the assumption of Black inferiority, and centers on education that is rooted in Black humanity, self-determination, community agency, and community cultural wealth and assets," Ruffin said.
Those assets largely come in the form of caring, empathetic leaders who live in the communities they serve. Cicely Rogers and Toshia Sitton are the leaders of the REGAL Pod at Pisgah View Apartments. Every day, they guide and support a group of about six students from Asheville City Schools with their remote learning.
It's a learning model inspired by mutual aid societies of the late 1700s, like the Free African Society, where Black individuals who had secured their freedom worked together to provide aid to newly freed Black people and build leadership in their community.
The REGAL guidebook was co-authored by Dr. Ruffin, Marta Alcala-Williams, Miranda Williams, and Ashley Cooper, in partnership with community leaders Samuel Kaplan-Gershon, Makenzie Bennett, Cicely Rogers, Toshia Sitton, and Teri Hughes. Those interested in obtaining a copy can email firstname.lastname@example.org