By: Guest Blogger, Yaneth Vrentas
Meridian’s commitment to create an equitable and inclusive culture is both inspiring and engaging. It is present in all aspects of our school from institutional practices to program and community. We strive to reflect this continuous and intentional work in our everyday practice. For this reason, we offer opportunities and experiences that challenge and promote growth in cultural competency for our entire school community. At the center of these efforts is each and every Meridian student. Our ultimate goal is to educate culturally competent, well-rounded, critically thinking students who are prepared to be responsible and active local and global citizens. We are continuously enriching our program to achieve this goal.
Our faculty’s current work involves reviewing our curriculum through the lens of our Global Citizenship Framework. Based on the desired outcomes and skills that we want to foster in our Meridian graduates, we integrated global competency with equity and inclusion education based on curriculum frameworks and core standards. Throughout their years at Meridian, students will develop the awareness, skills, and knowledge required to take action and promote positive change locally and globally.
The framework includes four domains: inquire, investigate, innovate and impact, which we refer to as the 4 I’s. Each domain has a set of outcomes that faculty assess within their units. Students discover more about themselves, others, and the world through inquiry and investigation. They learn about identities and cultures and how we all contribute to diversity and enrich our communities. They analyze and consider how our respective experiences and cultures influence our perspectives. By understanding and valuing the existence of multiple perspectives, students to develop critical thinking skills and empathy. Students also thoughtfully discuss natural and social issues and how they affect communities. They develop a sense of responsibility as global citizens and are empowered to collaborate, plan, and take action to change conditions with big or small everyday actions.
Here are some examples:
Kindergarteners have been learning about aspects of identities and families, and considering what makes us who we are and how it can change over time. As a part of this unit they are discussing internal and external identity, cultural and religious celebrations, and the many family structures and traditions that make up our classroom community.
First graders are learning about rights, responsibilities, and what it means to be an actively engaged local and global citizen.
Second graders are investigating how people and place are connected through exploration of how individuals contribute to the many different communities that they are a part of.
Third grades are completing a unit about cultures, systems and values. Students will soon begin analyzing how people affect the environment and how global warming affects communities.
Fourth graders have been learning about Native American perspectives, Washington state history and tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Later this year, students will engage in conversations about civic and human rights.
Fifth graders are researching their family heritage and will begin studying immigrant stories from the past and present in connection with our thematic, regional study of North America this year.
Classroom libraries are also part of our focus as we are intentionally reviewing educational resources to ensure that they reflect inclusion of multiple perspectives and positive representation of different communities.
Other aspects of the program include field trips, guest speakers, classroom workshops, and school assemblies that foster the development of global citizenship skills in our students.
Developing cultural competence as a learning community requires active participation in education, and the willingness to step outside of our comfort zones to ensure that students become true engaged and responsible global citizens.
Parents are encouraged to follow-up at home with meaningful conversations, attend school or local educational series relating to equity and inclusion topics, and to actively participate in the program. For example, at this time we are looking for parent volunteers that would like to teach a workshop during our Global Citizen Symposium on February 23rd! Share how you have created impact and social change through professional work or civic engagement. We will also use the opportunity to learn more about Central America, the Caribbean and North America. Please contact Marika or Yaneth to share names of people that you think could contribute to the symposium.