Director of Pre K-12 District PartnershipsCompany: Pacific Educational Group
Role: DIB Presenter Session: Using Storytelling to Educate, Empower, & Build Empathy Across Difference
A second generation Afro Cuban-American, Luis Versalles was born and raised in Bloomington, Minnesota. His bilingual and bicultural life experiences have fueled his passion for fostering racial, linguistic, and cultural equity in education for all students. After completing his public school K-12 education, Luis went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Education with emphasis on Second Languages and Cultures from the University of Minnesota, becoming the first college graduate in his family. This experience motivates his work in coaching school leaders to better understand the complexities presented to families of color as they navigate both the K-12 and higher education systems.
Versalles specializes in aligning district strategic plans with PEG’s Systemic Racial Equity Transformation Framework to facilitate greater alignment in achieving racial equity system-wide. In addition, he leads a team of equity transformation specialists in guiding organizations through this work in the domains of Leadership, Culturally Relevant Learning and Teaching, and Family/Community Engagement and Empowerment.
Versalles began his professional career as a teacher of Spanish and English as a Second Language in his hometown of Bloomington and neighboring Richfield, MN. His teaching career spanned elementary, middle, and high school levels. As an administrator he worked as the Program Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Principal of Richfield Dual Language School. Luis was instrumental in the community outreach, feasibility study, and coordination required to bring this school into existence as the first suburban two-way immersion school in the history of the state of Minnesota. Recognizing his leadership experiences in two-way immersion education, Luis was awarded the Joyce Bilingual Preschool Bridging Gaps, Bridging Cultures Award in 2010, and the Association of Two-Way and Dual Language’s Promoting Bilingualism Award in 2016. He has presented at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition Summer Institute as well as the Louisiana Department of Education on Immersion Principal Leadership Competencies. Versalles’ keynote presentations include: Courageous Leadership: Interrogating the Role of Race in Racial Disparities in Two-Way Bilingual Immersion (ATDLE National Conference, 2016) as well as The Path Forward for Diverse Schools: Courageous Conversations About Race and Education (Teachers College Colombia University, Summer Institute, 2016). He also participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Leadership Conference 2018 opening plenary panel titled, “Racial Equity:Addressing Structural Racism in Education” as a panelist.