What Teachers are Saying About Spark!


In the course of the last three years as classes have moved through, now all students have had an opportunity to benefit from this curriculum. In my estimation this has drastically reduced the number of incidents of harassment, racism, and fighting within our building. It used to be weekly that I would get a report of such behavior, now it is less than once every several months!!


The video was great! It opened a lot of eyes (mine included!) Information presented was relevant and pertinent to this grade level. Great job!
Fourth grade teacher


This is a very powerful curriculum, especially to 5th graders as they are getting ready to move to middle school with a wide variety of students. Thank you.
Fifth grade teacher


It was good to have a facilitator who was "different" enough in culture to be noticeable. I'd like to see more people of other cultures in our classrooms.
Third grade teacher


Please never stop getting the message out to kids in Rochester, many of whom never feel the kinds of prejudice others do on a daily basis. I thank you and applaud your efforts.
Fifth grade teacher


I thought the presentation did a good job of making diversity personal to the students by using Rochester/Olmsted County information.

Sixth grade teacher


As a teacher I’m not afraid to dive in and work with kids on diversity issues.  Before I probably would have avoided discussing it. The Diversity Council has given me tools to use, and the courage to use it.  AND they give the kids a process to use. 


What a fabulous experience for all kids! The change in curriculum was very much appreciated… is developmentally appropriate and interesting to a 7 or 8 year old child. Overall—wonderful experience!

Second grade teacher





K-12 Anti-Bias Workshops




The Spark! workshops are a series of 13 lessons that build respect for human difference among K-12 students.


These fun, interactive programs closely align with the aims and goals of Rochester Public Schools.


Program Design

Spark! is a partnership between the school district and the community. In our innovative model, trained community members representing the diversity of Olmsted County present workshops for every grade level at every school once a year.


As students progress through their education, they begin with basic concepts such as 'same & different' and move to challenging discussions of discrimination and respect in areas such as disability, race, body size, social class, gender and sexual orientation, and religion. Curriculum Overview



Current research describes what has to happen among children in order to create long-term behavioral change and reduce prejudice and discrimination.


The short-term outcomes of increasing knowledge, empathy, critical thinking skills, and self-esteem are linked to the long-term objectives of improving inter-group relations and reducing prejudice and discrimination. Our curriculum is designed to meet the four immediate objectives linked to prejudice reduction. Our goal is that students will:


Gain knowledge

Develop empathy

Develop critical thinking skills

Improve self-esteem



The Diversity Council currently has about 30 community members facilitating Spark! workshops. About half of our facilitators identify themselves as a minority with regard to ethnic identity, religion, disability, or other factor.


All facilitators receive at least 30 hours of training plus observation and practice hours before being certified to offer Spark workshops.


Facilitator training is offered once a year in the summer. If you are interested in joining the team, fill out an application or call for more information: 507-282-9951. Job description



The Spark! program undergoes rigorous evaluation each year. After every workshop, teachers evaluate the curriculum for developmental appropriateness, how successfully it gets students involved, and how well it meets our objectives. Teachers also evaluate our facilitators on their skill in delivering the curriculum.


Teacher evaluations are supplemented by facilitator evaluations of each workshop.


The Diversity Council also partners with the school district to test a sample of students each year to determine what they are learning and remembering from the workshops.


The evaluation data is used each year to continually improve our curriculum.



Spark! is available for licensing by school districts and community organizations. Details and pricing