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Founded by Dr. Theresa Newsom, the Black Educator’s Network is a diverse group of like minded people supporting and promoting educators of color throughout El Paso County, Colorado and the surrounding area. Our members represent diversity in ethnicity, and background. B.E.N. members come from all walks of life including active and retired educators, retired military, charity workers, and much more.

​The annual B.E.N. Literacy festival is a completely free event that is open to all. It celebrates all facets of literacy including Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Music and Movement – full STEAMMM ahead!  Featuring special keynote addresses and engaging literacy sessions, the festival is capped off by a huge free book giveaway suitable to all ages, grades, and reading levels. The 2020 event will be a virtual one, held on September 26th. 

We start at 9:00 AM with our opening comments, welcome, and keynote address. Individual presentations follow in two sessions [Session A (9:30-10:10 AM); Session B (10:20-11:00 AM)], then we wrap up with our closing comments and PRIZE GIVE AWAY!

Beginner’s Guide to Coding |  3rd Grade & Up | By Erick White


Get started with a basic introduction to coding in Python 3.x! Learn how to assign variables, print outputs, and make a response based on user input. Practice writing a simple program. Then have a chance to ask questions about Python and about coding in general and pose problems on which to work. Note: for this session, ensure you have access to https://repl.it/languages/python

Life, Liberty, and Literacy   | for Parents | Alexis Knox-Miller


Learn how to identify instructional practices that will support your student’s success in school, and examine the connection between liberation and literacy. The presentation will focus on culturally responsive literacy practices that lead to liberation in education. It will also help parents identify ways that they can ensure that their students are being served in a classroom that affirms their identities and culture.

Writing to Tell the Story of COVID-19 | for Grades 3-5 plus Parents and Educators | Teresa Brown


Students learn ways to brainstorm and connect emotions to word-based pictures in their writing to help their readers “see the movie” as they read. Participants will explore their experience and document how the COVID-19 pandemic has impact their daily lives, relationships with others, and the way they experience the world. Particpants may choose to submit a final copy of their work to the Pioneer’s Museum for inclusion in their exhibit on our local experience.

Bring Science Home – Create a Makerspace   | for Grades K-5 plus Parents and Educators | Nohea March

A makerspace is a space to imagine, explore, and create. In this presentation, students will explore science and imagination through designing a creation using materials they already have in the home. Participants will learn about makerspaces, and Educators and Parents can learn how to create a makerspace in their own classroom or at home!  Note: For this session, please have on hand a few typical craft materials such as scissors, tape, glue, beads, etc. And be sure to include some recyclables like toilet paper rolls, different kinds of paper, plastic water bottles, bottle caps, etc. Use your imagination!

Movement Matters! | for Grades K-5 | Angela Hall

Learn the importance of staying active while doing some fun yoga stretches, and dynamic movement. Moving our bodies through yoga, exercise, dance, stretching, etc will provide much benefit to overall health by reducing stress levels.

Mind and Body – Body Intention and Brain Attention  |  for all ages Kindergarten and up | Jordan McHenry

The mind and body are integrally linked.  Particpants will gain a better understanding of the comprehensive and integrated systems that affect literacy and brain attention by exploring the mind/continuum through a guided improvisation, mindfulness and dance exercises.

College and Careers  | for Grades 6-12 | Linda Rogers

Students who can identify and describe their skills and interests are more prepared to enter the workforce and will approach the college process with more awareness. This presentation will introduce techniques to better prepare for both by learning how to navigate websites, become familiar with relevant vocabulary terms, identify various career options, and more. Participants will also be given a list of useful resources.

Interview Skills  | for Grades 6-12 | Kevin Curry

If you are competing for scholarships, jobs, college admission, volunteer positions, grants, or other opportunities, you will almost certainly need to do an interview. Don’t fear it! This presentation will discuss how to be successful in any of those interviews. Topics include proper how to prepare for the interview, how to best present yourself, how to set yourself apart from other applicants, and much more. 

Mysteries of the Hexaflexagon  |  for All Grade Levels | Ms. Nikki Myers

Explore the mystery and vocabulary of the hexaflexagon, and make one to create a foldable mystery that tells itself over and over again to explore geometry and art, technology and storytelling. Participants will use a pattern and add artistic details and storytelling elements to fold the paper back and forth. Vocabulary includes symmetry, equilateral, triangle, angle, measurement and more.

Ambiguity, Literacy, and Science – What is the Question?   | for All Grade Levels (incl adults) | Dr. Theresa Newsom

Learn about the unknowns of science by asking the mystery question of “What If?”. You will investigate the difference between liquids and solids while learning more about the contributions of scientists that represent diverse cultures. Note: for this session, please have on hand, 1 empty bowl and 2 additional jars or bowls with lids – one half- filled with water, the other half- filled with a solid (rice, small rocks, or small objects)

Illustration and Art Technique Through Picture Books  |  for Grades Pre-K through 5 | Ms. Vanessa Little, 

Participants will read books written by Ezra Jack Keats, discuss the illustrator’s art technique, and explore creating their own piece of art using the illustrator’s art technique. Note: for this session please have on hand glue, tissue paper, fabric scraps, and construction paper.

Move, Create, and Connect  | for Grades K-5 | Emma Lepore

Learn how to understand your voice in a movement context and then create it. In this session we will focus on creating movement phrases, which just like a sentence in a book have action and meaning that can contribute to our larger story. We will use movement to explore questions like: What is my voice? What do I say when I move? What do other people say when they move? What do we want our movement to say?

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