Race relations can be a complex topic for adults to address, much less children.
But this week’s one class at a time grant winner, Mrs. Lindsay Parton, strives to tackle the issue head on by incorporating diverse cultural traditions into her lessons.
We went to Lincoln Middle School to see exactly how she does it.
Take a look.
When Mrs. Parton started her first full time teaching job just six months ago, she never imagined how much her students would teach her.
“I have found that I absolutely love working with this age group, love working with this class, and love working at Lincoln,” said Parton.
With most of her students being minorities, when she took inventory of the books in her classroom, there weren’t that many titles representing the student population.
“I want to make sure they can see themselves represented in their classroom environment,” she said. “There have been studies done that have shown that the more that kids are interacting and see themselves within their environment, the more ownership they take of their environment.”
She says that multicultural literature can be a powerful catalyst for conversations about race in classrooms. And she plans to use the grant money to buy not only multicultural books, ut she also wants to buy flesh toned crayons to represent the wide range of skin tones.
“Right now, my class, the majority is minority and they have to choose from the black or the brown marker for their skin tone,” she said. “There is nothing in between. So, this will by several sets that will make it so that they can actually find a color that is close to their skin tone.”
And the impact she’s already had on her students in the short time she’s been teaching is clear.
“She teaches us how to be kind to each other, be friends and she teaches all like we’re all family.”
“I want her to know that she’s a great teacher, she’s amazing… I’m trying not to cry,” said student Zoey Gaylord.
“I don’t want them to feel like a minority. I want them to come in and know that this is my classroom and see themselves represented and know that I can do anything… and not only do I have a teacher that wants me to the best that I can possibly with grades but she also cares about me,” she said.
And on this week of Martin Luther King Day, Mrs. Parton says she wants her classroom to be fertile ground for racial and cultural equality… And that it starts with having more diversity in teaching materials.