Saroja Warner, Director for Culturally Responsive and Equitable Systems at WestEd, is committed to ensuring each child experiences teaching and learning in classrooms and schools that are led by educators who are racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse and are culturally responsive. Early in her life, watching the struggles her mother experienced in advocating for Warner’s hearing impaired little brother, Warner learned that equity is not the same as equal. Despite her own initial lack of engagement in school (or, as she would characterize it today, the ineffectiveness of her teachers to engage her), Warner’s parents, immigrants from Trinidad, made sure she completed high school and went to college.
Warner credits excellent teachers at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for helping her develop a passion for history and eventually leading to career in education. She started her career as a history teacher in the district she had attended as a K–12 student. Since then, she has become a National Board certified teacher, earned a PhD from the University of Maryland, and teaches in the teacher preparation programs there. Throughout, she has championed education equity.
In 2012, she extended her reach to the state and national policy arena through work at CCSSO, the Maryland State Department of Education, and AACTE. Warner is a leading national expert on the research and evidence base related to Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education (CRSE), educator diversity and effectiveness, educator preparation and professional learning, and school and district improvement.