Vermont's 2015 Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Haslam, wants to talk about teachers' "cultural competency" — the ability to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds "in a way that's respectful and inclusive, and that considers the perspectives and experiences of those around you who are different from you," she says. The Champlain Elementary School first-grade teacher is helping to develop the "equity conversations" the Burlington district requires for professional development. Topics include white privilege; gender identity and expression; and teachers' personal biases and how they affect student achievement. Collectively, the Queen City's students are 35 percent non-white and speak 47 different languages at home. They represent various economic backgrounds and gender identities. Their best shot to experience equal opportunity is in school, Haslam says. "Public education really is the foundation of democracy."