Fifth grade students in Ms. Espinoza’s class at the Vails Gate Elementary School participated in a youth conference at Vassar College last week. The students were invited to participate based on their Culturally Responsive Education work inspired by Dr. Jevon Hunter.
During morning meetings in their class, the students spent time discussing individual identity and celebrating their diversity. They worked on culture packets with their family members and came into school to present on aspects of their culture such as language, music, traditions and celebrations. They read children’s literature about students from various cultures and backgrounds. They have been learning that everyone they meet is both an individual and a reflection of their culture.
Students created silhouettes in which they highlighted their own individual interests, hobbies and values. They then created a word art project which was inspired by the books I am Every Good Thing and The Proudest Blue. After reading them, the students discussed how sometimes people are stereotyped or mislabeled based on people’s misconceptions of them. The students chose to cover up the words used to mislabel them with the words they believe reflect who they are.
The participants presented their work to fellow fifth graders as well as to middle and high school students within the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. They also enjoyed getting to experience a day on a college campus.