I have said this before, and I will say it again...I am so blessed to work with a community of ESL parents that give 100% to the school and to their children's education. I strongly believe that if a school system makes room for parent involvement, parents will respond. I also strongly believe in building strong and positive relationships with parents because they are your strongest ally. For me, our Annual Cultural Festival is a testament of what families and teachers can do together for our children and our community.
As many of you know, last Wednesday Dec. 17, we had our Fourth Cultural Festival, an opportunity to celebrate our cultures, our families, our heritage. I am proud to say that I started the Cultural Festival in May of 2006 and since then it became a "classic" at our Beechwood Elementary. The theme I chose for this Cultural Festival was Peace because it is an universal wish that crosses borders. Regardless of what holidays we celebrate, Peace is desired by everyone. So this is what we did...
First...we gave all of our families a warm welcome to our evening event.
Then, each family was invited to participate in the making of a Peace Mural. Families went to different classrooms and they all read....(drums rollling) The Peace Book by Todd Parr (of course, one of my favorite books!).
Then, each family was invited to write and draw what peace means to them. Part of the directions given was to "follow" Todd Parr's style: drawing big colorful pictures! Then, they will cut out those pictures and place them in a colorful background paper! and TA-DA! Done!
Once the family were finished with their project, they were invited to place their work in our community Peace Mural that was set up for the families in our main lobby at school. Are you ready for a peek at the final product? Here it is...
The Peace Mural "Before"
The Peace Mural "After"
Afterwards, the families were invited to listen to our 4th grade Choir "Il Cantanti di Festa" that my dear friend, our talented music teacher, put together for the night. The choirs sang peaceful and touching songs to all our audience. Once again, they succeeded in bringing tears in our eyes!
The last part of the night is our International Dinner and visit to our International Museum where families and students set up tables to display
arts and artifacts from their home country. The display were awesome, it shows a joined effort to create such a display!
During the International Dinner, students, families and staff have a chance to talk to one another, visit the different displays, and read students work (more on this project on another posting!).
After 2 hours and 20 minutes of a great sense of community, it was time to clean and go home. At the end of the night I was talking to one of our ESL families and I was telling them that when I am at the gym, with microphone in hands thanking everyone, I looked at the people standing in front of me and I saw a strong community, I saw an extended family with our ESL communities. Year after year, there they are...showing their support in what we do as a school. My dearest and sincerest thanks to all those families who have taught me so much...
In the next couple of days, I will be doing some more "visual sharing" of our Cultural Festival, especially of our wonderful displays so you can also get a glimpse of the different countries represented at our schools.