Diversity Days Promote Learning, Valuing and Celebrating The Many Different Cultures Within Our School Community
On Friday May 5th and 12th, our students gathered in their K to 7 Family Teams and participated in some fun and engaging learning activities that celebrated the cultural traditions and experiences of many of our McKay families. Our staff SEL committee invited parents to join us on these days to share some of the ways their families come together to connect and celebrate cultural traditions with friends and family.
On these two days, students visited twelve 20-minute stations to learn about the different cultures that make up the Mustang community. Parents who volunteered for the Diversity Days worked closely with a teacher at a learning station to share more about their ethnic heritage with students. Our 12 Family teams rotated through 6 learning stations each day - and learned a great deal about the rich cultural backgrounds of families within our awesome community.
The Country / Culture and Learning Activity of the Twelve Learning Stations were as follows
1) India - Kolam Art Designs
2) Korea - K-Pop Dance and Cultural Games
3) Philippines - Traditional Clothing / Dress
4) Latin America - A Taste of Latin Food and Cultural Share: Homemade Guacamole and others
5) Hong Kong - Storytelling and Cultural Treats / Drinks / Candies
6) Nigeria - Slideshow of Nigerian Culture and Display of Cultural Clothing / Dress
7) Ukraine - Folk Dance Video and Arts/Crafts Activity - Creating Ukrainian Headbands (Vinochek) and Dolls
8) Indigenous Peoples - Storytelling and Hands-on Learning Group Activity
9) Japan - Origami Creations
10) Italy - Collaborative Mosaic
11) China - Chinese Calligraphy / Painting
12 China - Traditional Chinese Games
We are grateful to the McKay staff Planning Committee for their work to plan and implement both of our Diversity Days, to all of our staff for supporting this wonderful initiative for our students and community, and to the Parent Volunteers who shared some of the highlights of their family’s cultural traditions with our students. These Diversity Days are another example of the strong partnership between the students, staff and families at McKay.
Our SEL Committee was part of a District-wide Inquiry Focus Group that explored learning in social environments. This works is aligned and connected to our School Story Focus and McKay's Inquiry Question for 2022- 2023:
How can we continue to incorporate social emotional learning (SEL) and design learning environments which will improve student self-regulation, social connections and meaningful engagement in learning?
In particular, this initiative targeted the objective to improve social connections and meaningful engagement in two significant ways:
1) By engaging and partnering with members of our parent community - and for the first time since the pandemic, inviting McKay families into our school to actively participate in our students' learning. This work also was built upon the excellent work of a few PAC Leaders who sent out a "Community Asset Survey" to all McKay families, inviting them to share ideas for increasing opportunities and ways for meaningful and authentic parent engagement and connections at our school.
2) The opportunity for our students to build understanding, to learn about and to appreciate the traditions and experiences of others in their classrooms, and on our play fields, would promote friendships, kindness and more positive interactions amongst our students, especially those who they view as "different".
This work is also congruent with the District Strategic Plan to promote Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) within all Richmond Schools - and in particular, Priorites 1, 2, and 5:
Priority 1 - Inspired Learners
Priority 2 - Equity and Inclusion
Priority 5 - A Connected Learning Community
Our students had a wonderful time and many expressed how much they enjoyed learning about the various cultural backgrounds and ethnicities of the students and families that come to school each day. Our SEL team believes strongly that these learning opportunities foster an understanding and appreciation for one another - and promote a sense of belonging, togetherness and team. That is, no matter where we come from, and how long we have been here, we are all Mustangs. We believe that differences should not just be accepted. Rather, they should be embraced, valued and celebrated. Further, we believe that the differences in our backgrounds and experiences within the Mckay Community makes us a stronger more vibrant place to call home.
We believe that this first set of Diversity Days was very successful. We learned a lot from the experience, and we have surveyed all of our students from Grades 2 to 7 in order to include their voice as we build upon the learning this year. We look forward to offering similar experiences and explorations of other cultures and traditions next year.