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"Dr. Ness" Discusses Why You Don't Have to Choose the Pieces

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Dr. Ness is passionate about diversity and its implications for mixed race people. She has worked in the field of education for more than 18 years as an English teacher, dean of students, community educator, assistant director of education, dean of academics where she mentored teachers and conducted numerous staff development workshops, and is now an author. She has written and published several books on the subject of diversity.
Dr. Ness is a Louisiana Creole, or mixed race. Her father is a Honduran immigrant who is half Mayan Indian. Her mother is French, black, white, and Cherokee. As a multi-ethnic individual who grew up "without a flag" as her African American (part Native American) brother-in-law used to tease, Dr. Ness struggled with her identity. Through insights gained from her doctoral study and experiences in the classroom as a high school English teacher, she learned to embrace her diverse heritage and encourages others to do the same.

"When I answered the inevitable question from my students as to "what" I am, as I ran down the list of races, I noticed each student who seemed to be of those races sit up straighter and smile. They all took ownership of me! This taught me that you don't have to choose one part of yourself over another. I am not Black or White or Hispanic or Native American; I am all of them, and that's okay!"

Dr. Ness is a mom, grandmother, educator, and advocate for children and young adults. She finds fulfillment in knowing she is helping others and making a difference. Her focuses are:

  • mentoring teachers in classroom management, developing a positive, safe classroom environment, motivating students, and achievement assessment
  • assisting middle and high school students to succeed in the high school culture
  • giving voice to mixed race people
  • assuaging stereotyping and misperceptions

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