Celebrating how God created us each uniquely is a big part of our daily conversations here at North Shore Christian School. Our diversity is what makes us so special. It is not just during these long winter months (when we observe Black History month and Martin Luther King Jr. Day), that we pause, reflect, and honor the ways in which we are different. We do this all year long as it is entwined with our Biblical worldview. Here are just a few of the ways that we celebrate diversity all year.
- Students and teachers share their customs, traditions, and faiths openly with each other. Our teachers work diligently to create classrooms where respect and sharing is a part of the fabric of everyday conversations. Activities studying each other’s family tree or sharing in ethnic cuisines are unique ways that we celebrate and learn from each other.
- We learn about cultures, religions, and the rich history of people around the globe through art and music studies. Our students don’t just study the famous artists but understand the reasons behind certain types of art and music as well as how the art/music impacted each time period or people.
- We learn about how people around the world and right in our own neighborhoods celebrate their culture through reading a wide array of literature.
- We gain mapping and geographic understandings of the world through our Mapping from the Heart lessons.
- We involve parents and encourage families to share their customs, and culture with our students.
- We learn about how life is different in other countries through pen-pal writings.
Our teachers go above and beyond to show how special and unique each child is. One of our teachers has been kind enough to write up her lessons on Martin Luther King Jr. and how it touches each child.
I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I don’t know many people who aren’t – how can you not get goosebumps when you hear his words of love over hate, peace over war, and justice over injustice? I’ve spent a few weeks during summer’s past in Jackson, Mississippi with teams of high schoolers from my church working with different mission-based organizations who are working to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, in places where remnants of racism and Jim Crow Laws can still feel like ripping off a Band-Aid. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some Civil Rights leaders in person there – even a man who marched with Dr. King many years ago. Most days, I’m not exactly sure what my part is in keeping that dream alive; however, I’ve decided that I can help this generation of children realize that their dreams, maybe even similar to those of Dr. King, have the ability to change the world.
Every January in my class we spend a lot of time studying Martin Luther King, Jr. My hope is that students will understand this man as a whole – what he stood for, how he lived his life, what his motivations were and where they came from, and that he’s not just a nice guy from history that gets a holiday named after him. We read book after book, have discussion after discussion, and even hold one white egg and one brown egg next to each other and discuss how they look different on the outside, and that may lead us to think it means one is better than the other, but then we crack them both open and find out they are exactly the same on the inside (just like people). After all of this, it seems fitting to listen to excerpts of Dr. King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech. Many students listen with dropped jaws, others listen with wonder in their eyes, and even a few have tears in their eyes. Students’ reactions to Dr. King’s dream never cease to amaze me. Children seem to understand that the color of someone’s skin doesn’t matter, that love triumphs over everything, and that the world can be a better place if we want it to be. They ask thoughtful “how” and “why” questions about the Civil Rights Movement, and there seems to be an energy in the room – a sense that something is brewing.
The culmination of our study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is when students are asked to reflect on Dr. King’s dream, and then to ask themselves, “Do I have a dream? What is it? How would my dream make this world a better place?” Year after year, I have been blown away and even brought to tears by the dreams of these children for a better world. A world that doesn’t know war, poverty, hostility, and judgement. A world full of laughter instead of tears, friends instead of enemies, and lovers instead of haters. Last year we sent a collection of our own “I Have a Dream” speeches to influential leaders, such as State Representatives, Governors, local college Presidents, and even the President of the United States. The thing about a dream is that if you don’t share it with others, it may never happen. We decided that our dreams mattered, and that others deserved to hear them!
I sit here in eager anticipation of what my this year’s class will declare their dreams are. Later this week I’ll find out, and I’ll be sure to let you know what they say. I’m confident that this generation of children can and will change the world with their dreams. I see glimpses of it happening everyday in places like our classroom, the hallways, and in the lunchroom. Dr. King had a dream that was bigger than he could see. He believed in something greater than himself. Dr. King dared to dream. Can we do the same? Can we inspire this generation of children to do the same?
If Dr. King were here today in my classroom, I’d thank him for sharing his dream with the world. What a difference it has made, and what an inspiration it remains to this day.
And to the kids in my class, I say, dream on.
Ms. Liz MacDavitt – 3rd & 4th Grade at NSCS Beverly