In November 2018, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)—the world’s foremost anti-hate organization—conducted a unique Train-the-Trainer program for its Words to Action (WTA) initiative. Scott Melton of Bosque School was ADL’s representative from the Mountain States Region to the training.
“I was rather surprised when I received the call asking me to train for this position as a WTA facilitator,” Scott said. “It is a huge honor and the ADL is extremely selective about training people to represent the organization.” Scott added that his work as a BBYO (B'nai Brith Youth Advisor) likely contributed to his selection as a trainer.
Words to Action is one of ADL’s newer education programs. The program is designed to empower college and pre-college students with the knowledge, skills, and resources to address anti-Israel bias that crosses the line into anti-Semitism at schools and on college campuses. The program uses interactive modalities that allow students to not only learn about the history of anti-Semitism and its current manifestations, but more importantly to practice responding to biased actions and language when they occur. ADL’s Mountain States Region hosts one of the largest Words to Action programs in the country, conducting trainings reaching hundreds of students each year.
While Words to Action is specifically designed for Jewish teens and college students who encounter anti-Semitism, ADL offers World of Difference programs which are designed to address a broader audience on all forms of bias and how to become an “upstander,” a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.
Over the course of the four-day Train-the-Trainer program in Washington, D.C., Scott and his fellow trainees learned about the program in great detail. The cohort included educators and ADL professionals from across the country. Program participants practiced facilitating various activities and lesson components and engaged in peer critique. The training has prepared Scott to co-facilitate Words to Action programs primarily in New Mexico, one of three states that are part of ADL’s Mountain States Region, along with Colorado and Wyoming. Scott will join a cohort of eight other facilitators in the region.
“There was an entire compendium of exercises and activities,” said Scott. “As facilitators, we were required to present to our colleagues and act as students would when faced with the same situations. It was incredibly moving and also transformational.”
“Scott is enthusiastic and motivated,” said Naomi Mayor, ADL National Director of Campus and Community Education Programs, who co-facilitated the Train-the Trainer program. “I am excited to see what he will do as a Words to Action facilitator.”
“I can’t wait to work with Scott,” said Sue Parker Gerson, ADL Mountain States Region Senior Associate Director. “He brings such an immense background in anti-bias education to the table that will enhance our facilitator cohort as a whole. I’m so delighted that the Bosque School recognized the value in training Scott in the Words to Action program and encouraged his participation in the program.”
Scott has worked in advocacy in one aspect or another his entire life. During his 12-year tenure with AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), he was an advocate for the elderly and disabled and worked as an issue expert on independent living, long-term care, and end-of-life issues and designed integrated education and advocacy campaigns for 14 states. As an associate state director for AARP Florida, he did outreach specifically to underserved and underrepresented minority and LGBTQ communities across the state. He came to Bosque School as a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) and in his new position as Upper School English faculty, he naturally integrates his knowledge and background into his curriculum.
On November 18, immediately following his ADL training in Washington, D.C., Scott gave a TEDx presentation at United World College (UWC) in Montezuma, NM, as part of an event organized under the theme FORWARD, which sought to address problems that impede forward progress.
Scott’s talk focused on the ability to engage in civil/difficult conversations both in the classroom and in the real world. In a society that is so media-response-driven, Scott said it seems that simple rules of civil discourse have become scarce commodities.
“The ability to actively listen to ourselves, our students, and our colleagues is at an all-time low,” Scott said. “Thus, I gave some very practical advice on how to conduct a classroom and make room for conversations on a wide variety of topics by removing the ad hominem or personal or partisan attacks and focus on issues themselves. Although I had written this presentation prior to attending the ADL training, I must say that my subsequent presentation was greatly enhanced by the information and training I received in Washington.”
Scott joined Bosque School in 2016 as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. He is currently serving as full-time faculty for Upper School English 11 and Film.Scott studied comparative philology at the University of Munich and received a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from UNLV. He completed a Master of Arts in German Studies and Critical Theory at the University of Arizona and completed his thesis at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, Germany.
Congratulations, Scott, for your selection as a trainer for this prestigious organization!