One of the things that I was most looking forward to in advance of the opening of Schoo was the diverse population that our school was expecting. As a girl from a small town, I have come to realize what was missing from my educational career - the opportunity to know and work with people who are "different" than me.
One of my most favorite professional development days was the day when we took a bus tour through the neighborhoods from which our students would be coming. It was truly eye-opening. We began in the Highlands - a nice neighborhood with seemingly average-sized homes. Across the highway, we drove through the sunny Fallbrook neighborhood, where the homes were bigger, and the grass was greener (literally, not necessarily figuratively). From there, we drove to the Air Park neighborhood. Although these neighborhoods are relatively close in proximity, they are not similar at all. The homes were smaller, many of them appearing as though they might collapse at any minute. The bus ride through that neighborhood reminded me of those drives my parents used to take us on whenever my brother and I complained about the rough life we thought we had. The drives "south of the tracks" that were intended to make us grateful for all that we had been given. These kids would have to board the buses earlier in the morning than I hope to wake up.
There is much to be learned about people and cultures and customs and traditions, and I believe that learning about them first-hand is the only way. Sure, it was nice to have holiday parties at school and to be able to call that three-week vacation at the end of the year "Christmas Break." It was easy to go to a school where the teachers all looked like me and spoke a language which I understood. I never had to deal with going to school over my religious holidays or pack a lunch because the school cafeteria's food choice conflicted with my mandatory diet. If I needed a Band-Aid, I could be sure that the color of the bandage would match the color of my skin. I said the Pledge of Allegience to a flag of my home country. So many of these seemingly little things are a big deal to many of my students. I hope that my students appreciate the opportunities that they have to experience the kind of diversity we have at Schoo. It is truly wonderful. I am learning so much, and, for that, I am grateful.