“We have a lot more in common than you think,” said Erin Jones, Individual Education and Systems Consultant. One example of that statement was her mention of that every culture has within it a circle that is a symbolic icon for something. It is universal. It’s inclusive. And Jones wanted to stress to the teachers of Cascade View Elementary that as teachers it is important to make sure that circles of inclusion don’t turn into corners that prevent a free flow of cultural exchange.

Jones, a former teacher herself, said she has made it her life mission to be a bridge. A bridge in which she is the conduit to promote cultural exchanges of ideas that eventually lead to overall student success. An activity during the Smart Wednesday training encouraged teachers to roam around the room and schedule “appointments” with their coworkers that they would eventually keep at various times during the class itself.
They were then given a topic to discuss during the appointments and would later report aloud to the room their findings. There were times when the one-on-one appointments got emotional. Honest concern and heartfelt exchanges made way for human connections. The discussions and reports fostered understanding of the various cultures of their coworkers, and even surprised some teachers who were educated about their own feelings. They were asked by Jones to take full ownership of how they feel and be honest about their respect levels when it comes to relating to cultures and races other than their own.

Being self-aware helps to fill in the “Opportunity Gap” that exists for so many students. 3rd grade teacher Lynne Terpenning liked the presentation and one-on-one sessions saying the presentation style helped to shed new light on the topic. “It’s something more tangible, instead of ‘Achievement Gap’,” said Terpenning. “Saying ‘Opportunity Gap’ takes away the element of fault of the student.”

For additional information about this or any Tukwila School District event, please contact Rhonda A. Lee at (206) 901-8009 or via e-mail at leer@tukwila.wednet.edu.
Tukwila School District, A World of Possibility