Our differences are what make us stronger. This saying is applicable in everything from political speeches to the classroom. Not only is this saying nice to tell your students, but it is important to act on those words. Valuing diversity is important in a school setting as it allows for each student to feel included and represented. In Albert Community School the school and staff, do not fall short on diversity.
Upon walking up to the school I see a sign that honours the Indigenous land that the school sits on – Treaty 4. When walking in the front door I spot a bulletin board housing student artwork. The hallways are lined with diverse images from many cultures and countries. The library windows are lined with books on relevant topics such as bullying and cultural appreciation. I have had the privilege of experiencing the Pre-K classroom which holds representation from different cultures in the form of miniature teepees and traditional Chinese clothing. The building that constantly surrounds the students fosters inclusion because they are able to learn in a place that appreciates their culture.
While meeting the staff members of Albert Community I recognized many cultures being represented. Staff members appeared to be of European descent, Asian descent, and the school also has twelve staff members of First Nations and Metis heritages. The diverse set of faces allows students to see themselves in their teachers and support staff which encourages respect and appreciation.
It is easy to spot diversity in visible characteristics. Visual observations do not require much work to get the answer. It is the hidden forms of diversity that are not always at the forefront of every school’s visual appeal. There is a plethora of different identities that each student may live with such as religious differences, mental illness, political beliefs, ancestral ties, immigrant status, learning disorders, and sexuality and gender differences. These types of differences should be represented just as much as visible differences.
Differences are what makes us stronger. Whether they be clearly visible or held within we, as educators, need to recognize the ways in which each student is different from the rest and find a way to represent it in our schools. This will move schools towards a more progressive and inclusive nature.