Greater Hartford Connecticut Teacher Education Initiative: This is a four year teacher education program (2013–16) working with a total of 40 middle and secondary school history teachers from 20 public schools in the greater Hartford area. Ten different teachers each year gather for a five day workshop in the summer led by Professor Diane L. Moore to learn the RLP method for understanding religion and apply the method to their own teaching. Participants from all workshops gather during the school year to share best practices, resources, and strategies. This project is funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in collaboration with the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding (CCIU) and the West Hartford Public Schools.
The entire initiative was spearheaded by James Friedman, a longstanding member of CCIU and a West Hartford resident. Jim grew up in an almost exclusively Jewish neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1930s and 1940s and realized then that public schools are one of the few places where people from different religions have the opportunity to meet and interact. Years later, in 2007, Jim learned about the positive impact that teaching about religion had on students' attitudes about and behavior towards others in Modesto, California. This inspired him to commit to enhancing religious and cultural literacy in his own greater Hartford community. He organized a meeting between Dr. Karen List, the then Assistant Superintendent (and later Superintendent, now retired) of the West Hartford School system, the Social Studies Department Supervisor Jessica Blitzer, and Professor Moore whom Jim met through a mutual acquaintance. That meeting eventually resulted in an initial multidisciplinary workshop with area high school teachers and the successful grant application to the Hartford Foundation, originally begun by Jim on behalf of CCIU, for the current multi-year teacher education initiative that is based on the cultural studies methodology. That method is the foundation of the RLP.