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Diversity and inclusion at BRE

Students’ heritage pinpointed on a world map displayed in the main hallway at Buffalo Ridge Elementary school is one way the school celebrates cultural diversity.

Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) has a new Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CDL) initiative this year. A handful of BRE staff members comprise the CDL team with the goal to intentionally incorporate conversation about the value of diversity at BRE.

Multicultural Monday (MM) was the first activity the CDL team implemented. It is a short segment within the morning, school-wide announcements where “students have the opportunity to share about their own culture, or one that they are interested in,” said Melissa Briones, BRE English Language Development (ELD) teacher.

Multilingual students are invited to share some of the traditions, language and culture they live at home. Any student who wants to participate is welcome to.

After MM, classroom teachers are encouraged to take a few minutes for discussion, questions and answers, to foster a safe learning environment for conversations about cultural aspects that students may have found confusing or interesting.

Melissa, who splits her time between BRE and Redstone Elementary School, introduced another CDL program at BRE that was successful at Redstone. Global Buffalo Learners (GBL) got its start at Redstone helmed by Lauren Vick, a RCHS senior and former Redstone student, and teaches interested students French, Spanish and Chinese in an after-school club run by students.

GBL has been a success. Approximately 40 BRE students participated, with more students than the GBL could accommodate to keep it manageable for RCHS students. “Both schools really appreciated and enjoyed learning different languages and their cultures,” reported Melissa. “We heard lots of positive feedback from families and students alike.”

Another CDL activity is in the main hallway at BRE, where a large world map hangs with highlighted countries represented by students and their families. Families can fill out a survey to have their culture and heritage included on the map.

Overall, the CDL efforts have created an atmosphere of excitement and inclusion at BRE. Going forward, MM and the world map project will continue, but GBL is dependent on the interest and schedules of the RCHS students, so it is not guaranteed for next year.

“I often reflect on how lucky I am to have a job where I teach ELD, but also help create positive learning environments for all students to share and learn about different languages and cultures around the world,” Melissa concluded.


By Celeste McNeil; photo courtesy of Melissa Briones



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