I really value diversity in the workplace. I believe people from different backgrounds can bring different perspectives and fresh new ideas to the table, and that we can learn from those who value different things. Because I work in a school, I think it is valuable for students to learn from someone who looks like them, so diversity in my workplace is especially important to me. Students need role models who look like them and come from similar backgrounds as much, if not more, then they need to learn from those who are different from them.
My previous job as a school counselor in the Pacific Northwest was in a very rural, geographically large, mainly white, poor area. I cannot think of a single faculty or staff member who was not white. I can only think of about 10 students (out of 450) who were not white. As the school’s counselor, I started a Diversity Club, in which students met weekly at lunch hour to learn about diversity. We made a bulletin board for Black History Month, we read about different Asian Americans during Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, and we did Native American themed crafts for Native American History month. But we also drew upon our own diverse backgrounds to enhance our understanding of different cultures.
One of my favorite “lessons” in Diversity Club was when a student of Polish descent brought in Polish foods and taught our group some Polish words. Most of the other kids in the group did not know she was Polish (although her name is not an American name, so I’m not exactly sure what ethnicity they thought she was) and did not know anything about her country. She was able to teach us about her background, and it led to several other students researching their heritage and teaching us about where their family came from in later lessons. We came together as a school community to celebrate our backgrounds and the diversity that existed within our own community.
As I began this school year as a counselor in the South this past week, I noticed something different; something wonderful. The staff population mirrors the student population in almost every aspect. We are different ages, races, and genders. We have different religious beliefs (more on that later) and we have different values. Sure, we have a lot of new-to-the-school teachers this year, but we also have a lot of students who are new to the area as well. I think it is absolutely wonderful that we, as a staff, have such varied backgrounds and I am so excited to watch all 750+ of my students grow and learn from people who are both similar and different from them.
And what about Buggy? She’s been spending time with her Dad. This week she enjoyed the daycare at the gym, a trip to the mall play place, and an outing to the park!