Posted April 26, 2022
Dear McKinley-Thatcher families –
Wow, our last month of school is almost here! We’re excited to share some important information about our commitment to equitable teaching as well as our list of upcoming events for May 2022.
Earlier this year, we shared our McT Black Excellence Plan, our commitment to support the growth, empowerment, and inclusion of students of color, particularly our Black students. Now we’d like to share our commitment to teaching for equity for all students at McT. As part of our social/emotional learning (SEL) instruction, our staff have introduced lessons to teach about and celebrate our students’ identities, based on the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards.
|Kindergarten – 2nd Grade||3rd – 5th Grade|
|I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.||I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and describe our various group identities.|
|I can talk about interesting and healthy ways that some people who share my group identities live their lives.||I know about my family history and culture and about current and past contributions of people in my main identity groups.|
|I know that all my group identities are part of me—but that I am always ALL me.||I know that all my group identities are part of who I am, but none of them fully describes me and this is true for other people too|
|I can feel good about myself without being mean or making other people feel bad.||I can feel good about my identity without making someone else feel badly about who they are.|
|I see that the way my family and I do things is both the same as and different from how other people do things, and I am interested in both.||I know my family and I do things the same as and different from other people and groups, and I know how to use what I learn from home, school and other places that matter to me.|
We do this work around identity to create a safe environment for every member of our community, and to help them learn about and appreciate all our differences. We believe that, for all students to succeed, all students must experience classrooms where they are valued, represented and understood by both their peers and their teachers. Teaching and learning about identity prioritizes the full scope of a child’s developmental needs as a way to advance educational equity and ensure that every child reaches their fullest potential. This approach honors the fact that students’ education and life outcomes are dependent upon their school environment and relationships. The McKinley-Thatcher community is very diverse, and our exploration of identity includes the ideas of race, culture, language, gender expression, religion, and inclusion to honor our friends and classmates.
Baruti Kafele, a principal from New Jersey, wrote, “teaching about identity is a reflection of educators’ love and compassion for children.” Similarly, in recent news, Governor Spencer Cox of Utah made a critical decision that supported transgender youth. He wrote a powerful letter explaining his stance and said, “I struggle to understand so much. When in doubt, however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.” At McKinley-Thatcher, we believe that helping students feel known, valued, wanted, and connected to our community is vitally important to their academic success and mental well-being, and we will always stand on the side of love, compassion, and kindness.
We encourage families to continue these conversations at home, and are sharing some resources to explore!
To further our community’s learning about this important topic, we are excited to host a special version of our annual Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) Night! This year’s SEL Night topic is “The Importance of Talking to Children about Race” with a special 2-hour in-person session hosted by Eric Elmore, DPS Culturally Responsive Educator Specialist. SEL Night is Wednesday, May 4 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Find all the details and RSVP to attend here!
We’d also like to share dates and times for our many upcoming May events. Mark your calendars and keep an eye out for more information coming home in Friday Folders, News from the Nest, and ClassDojo! Many of our whole-school indoor events in May are for students only due to space limitations and continuing COVID concerns. We look forward to celebrating with families indoors again next year!
Sonia Geerdes, Principal
Courtney Waring, Principal Resident