(Online) Supporting Students From Diverse Backgrounds

Classroom of students from diverse backgrounds playing musical instrumentsPROGRAM DESCRIPTION

This virtual professional development program facilitated by David Patrick and Desiree Vargas of Racial Equity & Justice is designed to support the culturally responsive practice of school-based student support workers, counselors, social workers, educators, administrators and school psychologists. Participants will learn skills needed to support diverse K–12 students through a trauma-informed or healing-centered lens and engage diverse students and families to meaningfully participate in school communities with practices that foster inclusion and racial justice pathways. Participants will learn how to be more effective social justice agents and learn to implement strategies to develop culturally aware and responsive communities.


Please sign up for our interest list to learn about the next time this program is offered.

This program is 100% online and can be taken from anywhere! The course is offered synchronously, on Eastern Time.


This dynamic program will be offered synchronously via Zoom—you’ll need access to a stable internet connection. Participation is encouraged (though not required). This is NOT a pre-recorded program.


This virtual professional development program is designed to support the culturally responsive practice of school-based student support workers, counselors, social workers, educators, administrators and school psychologists. Similar to the Restorative Practices program we offer, we encourage you to sign up along with other people from your networks—an accountability partner goes a long way!

All perspectives and opinions shared during this training are confidential.

All of our professional development and continuing education programs are open to the public. You do not need to be a UMaine student, staff member or faculty in order to participate.

Not sure if this program is right for you? Contact us at um.fhc.pd@maine.edu or 207.338.8002 and we can help you figure it out.


  • Impacts of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) in work/academic spaces
  • Identity work & intrapersonal and interpersonal reflection regarding racial biases
  • Culturally aware and responsive community (social work lens)
  • Engaging diverse students and families to meaningfully participate in school communities with inclusion and racial justice pathways (from a healing perspective)
  • Safe and inclusive environment (from a trauma-informed perspective)
  • Decolonization talk & implementation, systemic racism (from a historical, Indigenous, and holistic healing perspective)
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Implementation
  • Work assessment & analysis (messaging, policy, school culture & more)
  • Supporting diverse K-12 students through a trauma-informed or healing-centered lens
  • Organizational equity tools
  • Equitable Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution, Relationship Repairment, and Restorative Justice Practices to address microaggression/discrimination/racism/bullying


David Patrick (Co-Founder of Racial Equity & Justice), MSW he/him/his
As an advocate for communities of color, David supports families, individuals, and students through his work as a co-founder of Racial Equity & Justice and Associate Director of The Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine. David combines experimental knowledge, social work education, and clinical problem-solving skills to build cross-cultural relationships, offer consultation, and provide mediation. His focus is working with strategic partners, stakeholders, and community leaders for policy development, policy implementation, and community change. As a speaker, writer, and facilitator, David offers candid reflections of his experiences as a person of color in both public and private life. As a social worker, David supports adoptive families with post-adoption support resources, advocacy, and mentorship. In addition, David has spent many years working with some of our most vulnerable neighbors through his work with individuals struggling with housing and homelessness, substance use disorders & recovery, and Crisis Intervention. Gardening is not only a method of healing for David but a resilient form of supporting and feeding his family and community members.


Desiree Vargas headshotDesiree Vargas (Co-Founder of Racial Equity & Justice) she/her/hers

As an Indigenous woman of color and an anthropology scholar, Desiree navigates advocating for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people uniquely with a focus on redistribution of resources and cultural preservation. Desiree’s skill set includes racial justice advocacy, anti gender-based violence advocacy (trauma-informed healing, MMIWGT2S, & campus safety), harm reduction activism, administration, keynote speaking, heart-centered decolonization consultation, grant writing, workshop and training facilitation, public relations, community organizing, youth behavioral health work, and childcare. Additionally, she is involved in various initiatives in her tribe and the greater community. Her favorite work includes community education, Land Back Projects and cultural preservation for the next generation. Her experiences and education equip her with expertise in her work at Racial Equity and Justice. She relies on her culture, relationship with the earth and herbal remedies as pathways to healing and enthusiastically encourages others to embrace fully their own traditional ancestral healing as a form of liberation and resilience.

To learn more about Racial Equity & Justice, click here.




Click here for more information about paying for your professional development, including information about need-based scholarships, group discounts and tips on how to get your employer on board.

Current UMaine students are eligible for a 20% discount. Use code STUDENT20 at checkout.

Note: UMaine offers a number of ongoing programs related to racial justice, implicit bias, diversity and inclusion to the UMaine community. For more information about these programs, please visit the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.



25 participants



2.5 hours / .2 CEUs are available.

Certificate of completion available upon request.

Learn more about contact hours and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) here.



For more information or to request an accommodation contact um.fhc.pd@maine.edu; 207.338.8002.