MVES third graders learn about cultural diversity

Published 9:04 am Friday, May 7, 2021

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By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Third grade students at Meadow View Elementary School have been learning about the different cultures represented in families throughout the Alabaster City Schools system by participating in the Hand in Hand Across the Land diversity study.

The study was brought on through grants that were won by the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy team through a program with the University of Alabama.

According to MVES teacher and PTLA team member Susan Clarke the group chose to do this study as a way to enrich the cultural experience of their students, while also providing meaningful connections with each other.

“We have around 200 children in grades K-3 who represent different cultural backgrounds here at our school,” Clarke said. “With all that is going on in the world today we want to ensure that our students, no matter their age, recognize the differences and similarities of people and embrace them. We believe that embracing them will help them to love and accept everyone, and prove that there is no need for hatred.”

The schools has been teaching the students about things like traditions, culture, food, languages and dialects by way of different lessons and demonstrations.

“We have our students researching the different countries and giving lessons to the other kids on what they have learned,” Clarke said. “They are going to do a mini parade into the lunchroom where they have created a board that represents the different things they have learned. We did a Spanish cooking show and taught how to make tortillas. We also had someone who did a mission trip to Kenya to share her experiences and explain what the culture was like there.”

Clarke said that students at the school represented countries such as Mexico, Kenya, China, Vietnam, Italy, India, France and Croatia. Through this study the children were able to expand their worldview and learn about the experiences of people other than themselves.

“They are so enthusiastic about this program,” Clarke explained. “Some of these kids feel like they are getting a chance to be who they are for the first time. It is so great.”

The PTLA team competed in a program through the University of Alabama where they work with the school’s continuing improvement plan to see what they can incorporate to enrich the experiences of their students. They hope that through this plan they will be able to promote self-pride in each student and their families, while also embracing the cultural diversity of each other.

The PTLA team for MVES includes Dancy Sullivan, Jill Schlup and Susan Clarke. They were responsible for competing for the grants of which they won two, one for the 2019-2020 school year and another for the 2020-2021 school year.