On Friday, February 17, 2023, Branson welcomes renowned scholars Dr. Paulette Walker, 25th National President of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and nationally recognized elementary school principal Mr. Otis Kitchen as keynote presenters for its annual “Beloved Community” event:
Beloved Community: How to Navigate the World with Intention and Strategy
The term "Beloved Community,” first described by the American religious philosopher Josiah Royce, speaks to the interconnectedness between individuals within a community. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. later popularized the idea, envisioning it as a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one's fellow human beings. Through a day-long series of workshops and discussions, Branson students and teachers will explore this concept and the interplay between individual pursuit and community prosperity.
Branson students, faculty, and staff will begin the day by building their capacity to engage critically in diversity dialogues. In workshops with the presenters, students will critically self-reflect on the diverse facets of their identity. Additionally, students will gather in “affinity spaces” where they will process their experiences and also explore ways to increase their capacity to consciously engage in the communities in which they learn, work, and live. All members of the school will be challenged to consider how the well-being of each individual is inextricably linked to the well-being of others.
“In an increasingly complex world, it's more essential than ever before for young people to acquire an enduring set of diverse and relevant tools – skills that increase their capacity for self-reflection and their ability to consciously engage the communities in which they learn, work, and live.”
|8:45 am - 9:30 am||
9th/10th grades with Otis Kitchen in Theater
11th/12th grades with Antwan "Banks" Williams/Eric Abercrombie in Commons
|9:40 am - 10:25 am||
11th/12th grades with Dr. Paulette Walker in Theater
9th/10th grades with Antwan "Banks" Williams/Eric Abercrombie in Commons
|10:25 am - 10:40 am||Break|
|10:45 am - 11:40 am||Keynote dialogue with Dr. Paulette Walker/Otis Kitchen for all Branson students, faculty/staff, and guests in Gym|
|11:45 am - 12:20 pm||
Lunch for students, faculty, and staff in Commons
Special Speaker Event in Crossways (by invitation only)
|12:20 - 3:20 pm||Classes meet on a condensed schedule. Presenters to visit classrooms|
About the Presenters
Dr. Paulette C. Walker was the 25th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Initiated into the Sorority through the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter of Michigan State University in October 1966, Dr. Walker has shown an uncompromising commitment to service for more than 55 years. She has served the Sorority on the local, regional, and national levels, gaining the respect and admiration of the membership.
Dr. Walker is known as a visionary and a dedicated leader. Dr. Walker is an educator in every sense of the word. In July 2011, she retired as the director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. Dr. Walker’s research agenda focused on curriculum and instruction as well as administration and supervision issues in urban schools. She has shared her research and expertise during presentations at local, regional and national conferences, university and college campuses, and school districts.
Dr. Walker is the co-author of the book, We Can Have Better Urban Schools. Also, she has served as a classroom teacher, middle school and high school counselor, director of counseling, assistant principal and districtwide supervisor of state/federal projects.
Dr. Walker received her Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education from Michigan State University, Master of Arts in guidance and counseling from The University of Michigan, and her Doctor of Education in administration and supervision from The University of Michigan. Read her full bio
Otis Kitchen II has been an elementary school educator for 17 years. He has been a teacher in Palm Beach County and a teacher and administrator in Hillsborough County School Systems, Florida. Before becoming the principal of Town and Country Elementary School in 2020, he was selected as a candidate by Hillsborough County School System to receive 2 years of extensive teaching and coaching in educational leadership. He has served as a presenter on various school topics for the Hillsborough County Assistant Principal Council and community groups. He has also served as a member of several Hillsborough County School System Committees on school leadership and equity. He currently co-facilitates the Culturally Proficient Leadership Course for the district and was the 2021-2022 Hillsborough County Elementary Music Council Principal of the Year.
One of his greatest passions is sharing best practice strategies that he has researched and successfully used to solidify his philosophy that all students can excel. One of his strengths is promoting positive relationships among all stakeholders. He is proud to be a founding member of the Black Male Leadership Initiative that has a mission to equip and empower black male educators to elevate their knowledge base and skills to prepare them for diverse roles across all levels of school and district leadership.
Mr. Kitchen received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2001 and a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and Research in 2003 from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2012, he received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from St. Leo College in San Antonio, Florida.
Eric “Maserati-E” Abercrombie is one of Branson's two inaugural E.E. Ford Fellows* during the 2022-23 academic year. He is a songwriter, pianist, guitarist, and musical producer. As a Fellow, he is working alongside Branson’s music teachers, teaching digital music/audio production, jazz, and rock.
Antwan “Banks” Williams is one of Branson's two inaugural E.E. Ford Fellows* during the 2022-23 academic year. He is one of the founders of Ear Hustle, a podcast centered on the daily realities of life in prison and stories from the outside, post-incarceration. An accomplished actor and dancer and talented visual artist, his fellowship includes teaching studio art, acting, and music in collaboration with Branson arts teachers.
* The E. E. Ford Fellows program is an important manifestation of Branson’s strategic plan, which states: “We believe that voices informed by different experiences, backgrounds, and points of view enhance the quality and depth of our student learning, both in terms of classroom conversation and moral and ethical development. Our students cannot meet their potential as empathetic and ethical leaders without experiencing authentic connections with people from different backgrounds. We aim to embed students in contexts where transformative moments are possible.” Learn more about this program at Branson.