Students Learn About Racism First Hand

APRIL 5, 2022 -- Wanting to ensure she addresses racism in a meaningful and authentic way, Cassandra Rieger, Grade 3 teacher at George Lee School, welcomed one of her student’s parents who offered to come in and speak with the students about Black history, experiences and racism in general.

Melodie McDonald, a Jamaican-Cuban dance instructor, joined the Grade 3 classroom to lead some activities that would help the students truly understand how we are all the same inside and how easily we can be hurt by the words and actions of others. One of the activities reinforced how we may see ourselves as beautiful but how our self-image can be easily damaged by external factors.

After drawing a picture of their “best selves,” all of the students gave their drawings to another student. Melodie then read aloud words such as hate, sadness, lonely, discrimination, racism and segregation, and with each word, the students destroyed the pictures in some way—scribbling on them, ripping them or creasing and crinkling the paper.

Eventually, students got their original pictures back, but they were no longer pictures of their best selves. They were wrinkled, ripped and scribbled on. They tried to fix up their pictures but the actions and words of others had so badly damaged their drawings that they just didn’t look the same. It was easy to see how deeply the students understood the message she was sharing. Melodie concluded the presentation with a story that had the students dancing freely and being their best selves.

Staff are so grateful to have members of the community who want to share their knowledge and experience to help staff and students grow and become the best versions of themselves that they can be.