Faced with the challenges of managing a blend of in-person and remote learning, Side by Side’s Hunt School staff could have stuck to their standard curriculum in order to ease the burden and stress of lesson planning. Instead, with their typical dedication, they followed through with their summer 2020 commitment to infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion topics into the school at all grade levels.
Lower Elementary school students in grades K-3 began the year learning about people from different regions of the world. “We focused on how our traditions make us unique,” says Lower Elementary teacher Emma Barbosa-Boehm. Thanks to special guest visits, personal accounts of Day of the Dead, Juneteenth, and Chinese New Year celebrations were shared with the students. Moving into the second semester, students will learn about Cesar Chavez and others who helped create change. “I want them to understand not only that people of all backgrounds have shaped history, but also that you don’t have to be the one in the spotlight to make a difference,” says Barbosa-Boehm.
Grades 4-6 kicked off the year studying Native American cultures and comparing cultural examples to their own lives. “A social studies textbook becomes humanized when we find those commonalities,” remarks teacher Erica Clay, who focused on cultural richness rather than solely historical facts. In Humanities, the book Holes sparked lively conversation about how characters in the book are treated and students tackled topics such as equity and access to education. “These are socially aware young citizens who are finding their voices,” says Clay. “I’m proud to be their teacher.”
Thanks to a book donation from Side by Side’s Glenwood Guild, grades 7 and 8 read A Long Walk to Water this fall. “They got really passionate about it,” says middle school teacher Giorgio Cico. In one activity, students were asked to picture themselves in a situation where they could gather only a certain number of belongings and think about how that would feel. “We tried to create empathy for the protagonist, who found himself living in a refugee camp,” says Cico. "This personal reflection, putting yourself in others’ shoes, is a skill we cultivate throughout the year.”