By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Sunday, January 17, an Intercultural Program called Diversi-Tea will feature children’s book author and storyteller Colleen Iasiello. The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral, 127 NW 7th Street, across from the OKC Memorial Museum.
“The Diversi-Tea will be a gathering of diverse women to enjoy conversation and fun,” said Joan Korenblit, Executive Director of the Respect Diversity Foundation, one of the organizing sponsors. “During the Tea will be the launching of ‘Classroom Alive with Mr. I,” a charming intercultural program with author Colleen Iasiello.’ This will be a short presentation that will be entertaining and inspire dialogue.”
Iasiello has been teaching in public schools for 17 years. She holds a degree in Elementary Education and endorsements in Early Childhood Education and middle school Language Arts.
Colleen wrote and implemented a pre-school program for a church, had her own pre-school in Japan, and taught American culture in the Japanese schools before moving to Oklahoma. She is currently teaching Kindergarten at Ranchwood Elementary in Yukon.
Colleen was an instructor for Great Expectations, teaching Methodology classes and How to Teach Diversity to Young Children, at several colleges in OK. She instructed at the Edmond’s Art Institute, teaching African Doll Making Classes.
She has led several book studies for both her colleagues, as well as the parents of her students.
Iasiello has completed several Leadership Academies: Leadership in Education, Partners in Policymaking, and the State Superintendent’s Master in Education Program. She is certified in Core Knowledge and has completed the School’s Attuned program. She has received several grants over the years to enhance her effectiveness in the classroom.
An active advocate for children with disabilities and inclusive practices, Iasiello has provided professional development classes for her school districts to included “What Great Teachers Do Differently” and “How to Reach the Hard to Teach.”
She has written for the Respect Diversity Foundation and the Oklahoma Disability Council through The Oklahoman Papers in Education Program. She and her students are four-time winners in the Respect Diversity Art and Poetry Contest. In 2008 she was selected one of Oklahoma’s top 3 Early Childhood Educators.
According to Korenblit, children begin recognizing differences as early as 6 months of age. “This is a developmental stage,” Koreblit said. “Children start placing value on these differences from the adults around them. Most adults don’t know how to answer those “embarrassing questions” often asked loudly in public! We tell children not to look, not to point, and quickly steer them away.
“Ultimately we raise another generation who don’t know how to act around a person with a disability,” Korenblit added. “Don’t understand cultural differences? We all tend to fear things we don’t know or understand. There is another way…let us show you how to teach children joyfully about diversity,”
Other Diversi-Tea Hostessing Partner organizations include Emanuel Synagogue, Interfaith Women’s Group, Quayle United Methodist Church, Raindrop Women’s Association, Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, and Temple B’nai Israel.
“Please RSVP to this free event so that we’ll be sure to have enough platters of sweet and savory refreshments,” Korenblit added.
To RSVP, e-mail [email protected] or call Joan Korenblit at 405-359-0369.