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March 10, 2021 | Tania Oro-Hahn
What does God look like? Does God see color? Does he care about color? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Last week I had the opportunity to visit the fifth grade and talk about these questions. We looked at two Bible passages. One from the beginning that showed us how God created humanity in his image. And the other from the end of the Bible. It is a picture of heaven, the world made anew by God. And it is full of color, diversity, and praise.
“There before me was a great multitude
that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people, and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9
Diversity is God’s doing and a reflection of the creator. As people made in the image of God, each of us, everyone, reflect God’s creativity and grace. We are children of God, in every shade.
Diversity, equity and inclusion matter deeply to God and to our school. I thought you’d like to hear some ways in which our institution, our leaders, and classrooms are developing spaces for greater equity and inclusion through learning, reflection, and conversations.
“Are we going to talk about George Floyd?” -sixth grade student.
“We’re going to talk about all the things even if they are hard to talk about.”– Mrs. McCallihan.
We had a wonderful Black History Month Celebration. The focus of our celebration was to center on Black excellence and joy. Students and staff together, looked and learned from both familiar and unfamiliar Black leaders. The middle school community studied the principles of Kwanzaa, and studied Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb.
The Black History Month Celebration was also a bit of an inauguration for our school. More than researching people, principles, or understanding poetry, students and staff had the opportunity to engage in authentic dialogue on issues of race, equity, and inclusion. Some of it was difficult. Conversations on equity are moving beyond our staff meetings and coming into the classrooms as they should, and will continue to move in that direction. Student conversations centered around bringing greater awareness and equity to our school and to our community. Black History Month was a fantastic way of inviting students into the conversation that staff have been having on a weekly basis in the Middle School for over a year. Students are not merely reflecting on representation or interpersonal issues of race. They are also asking reflective questions that focus on systemic racism, where real change happens.
In Mr. Licato’s health class students looked at policies that impact healthcare and how privilege impacts rehabilitation. They began asking questions that helped them to see systemic inequalities. Like Mr. Licato, teachers on the fourth floor are making more space for children to read, draw, write, create, and discuss what it means to make our classroom a place of belonging for all of the children.
Here are a few things we are studying:
Time to reflect on our practices as teachers is growing our ability to see our blindspots so we can correct, grow, and truly welcome all into our curriculum and our community. We are committed to pursuing the diversity we see in heaven. We long for Mustard Seed School to be a place where every nation, tribe, and people find a place of welcome.