Skip To Main Content

In alignment with St. Louis Park School Public School’s Strategic Plan, as well as the goal of continually centering diverse and culturally relevant student voices at the heart of school curricula, St. Louis Park Public Schools has been working on a new program utilizing Culturally Relevant Literacy coaches. I had the privilege of being able to sit in on one of the Culturally Relevant Literacy Coach meetings recently, and I was incredibly impressed by the work they are doing. 

There are two coaches assigned to each school. During the meeting, the coaches broke into teams based off of their site and spent time reviewing where their site was at and what needed to happen next. It became clear to me that the coaches spend a lot of time being intentful about getting to know their site and understanding the unique needs and perspectives of the students and teachers within their sites. Watching how the coaches collaborated together was fascinating, and I could see genuine passion throughout the entire meeting.

Culturally relevant literature is a part of the pedagogy of culturally responsive teaching. This literature often connects to students in personal, real-life ways, through finding literature that is relatable to students from all walks of life. Educators are able to help students truly connect with texts and find joy in reading. Not only can students develop a strong sense of personal connection in their classes, but they can have their perspectives broadened and learn to appreciate the diversity of our world. 

St. Louis Park Public Schools focuses on culturally relevant literacy within the “5 pursuits:” identity, skill, intellectualism, criticality, and joy. Not only does St. Louis Park Public Schools align itself with the 5 pursuits, but it also utilizes Culturally Relevant Literacy coaches to ensure we are meeting state standards. The most recent example is Minnesota’s Read Act which, among many things, aims to have all Minnesota students reading at or above grade-level beginning in Kindergarten. By carefully questioning the way we treat literature in the classroom and the way literature can affect students' perceptions and connections with the world, Culturally Relevant Literacy Coaches help us to meet this state-wide expectation.

Many of the Culturally Relevant Literacy Coaches expressed that their aim in the role was to help increase the skills and resources pertaining to culturally relevant literacy and knowledge about cultural relevance throughout the district, as well as allowing students to thrive in their reading and see themselves represented throughout their curriculum. As the world’s understanding of cultural relevance changes, and the legislation and language around reading in schools changes, the coaches have been consistently adapting to new standards and programs. When speaking to the coaches, I saw their sense of excitement and experiencing new things and their willingness to adapt throughout the year.

While the roles of Culturally Relevant Literacy Coaches cover many facets of our district, I would like to emphasize their presence in schools. They’re often on-site for collaboration with teachers, and having two coaches in each school allows for consistency and communication across the board, as well as an opportunity for educators to connect with the coaches on a deeper level.

As a student, I enjoy seeing the coaches within the high school and I like being able to see all the hard work they do to support me in my learning. As St. Louis Park Public Schools continues to implement culturally relevant pedagogy, I'm excited to see how the coaches can continue to expand and enrich our district.