|Professional Development News|
On Friday, students at Piedmont IB and Concord Middle Schools worked together on a global aid project. Students spent hours setting up a proper food packing site according to regulations, then, after a dinner break in which a portion of the money they spent went to fund more suppies for needy families, the students spent hours again packing food to send to Central and South America.
"Feed My Starving Children" partnered with the restaurant chain Tacos 4 Life to host a Mobile Pak event. The Mobile Pak event uses community volunteers to package rice, soy, vegetables and vitamin powder to send to Central and South American aid organizations that help feed kids and families.
Thanks to Piedmont 7th grade science teacher Mr. Anderson for facilitating the event. He says it was a good deed and also a learning experience for the students, "Students participating in the event and completing subsequent reflections helps students realize that what they do locally, can make a difference in the world... all while doing something fun."
I had the honor of chaperoning the Piedmont Gay Straight Alliance field trip to the Carolina Conference on Queer Youth at UNC Charlotte recently and was blown away by the quality of the presentations and information shared. Ms Tapia was on the panel of my favorite presentation, "Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQ Students and Educators: A K12 Panel".
The panel was comprised of current and former CMS students and staff who shared ways to help all young people in our schools feel safe and supported.
As an educator I did not realize how much stigma students have to deal with if they are LGBTQ. We don't realize how much our neglecting to truly create a safe space harms students' educations. One panelist banned herself from ever entering her neices' and nephews' school building, in an effort to save them from the kind of taunts, ugly words, and bullying the panelist received growing up.
These taunts, ugly words, and bullying continue today. Although the world is learning, it is not soon enough for the 9 of 10 LGBTQ students who are harrassed based on their orientation. Add into that number all the teachers who don't recognize students for who they are, who don't accept a student's family; add in students who have an LGBTQ friend, relative, or loved one, and then add in how many students partake in the belittling of other classmates, and you see the issue affects all of us. Imagine how many people limited their education because they did not feel welcomed in their learning environment. Ms. Tapia and her club help make Piedmont a safe space for all.
If we follow the lead of the GSA, no student will cut short their educational opportunities because they are not accepted as a complete person; no parent, aunt, uncle ever feels unwelcome to participate in supporting their student's education. We know the stories of the past, but we might not realize how opresssion and intolerance is still pervasive and how that hurts us all -and how many of our LGBTQ youth bear the brunt of that pain in school.
We all have a lot to learn and we can't wait around to change. What can we do?
My takeaway from Ms Tapia's session is that labels destroy lives and put our fellow community members in danger. Under the School Violence and Prevention Act, we eduators must address infractions against a students gender identity or sexual orientation. You must call it out and stop it every time.
More than just stopping bullying, it is Important for us to to counteract negative messages our students get. How? Send messages of acceptance & welcome. Make a point to loudly approve of LGBTQ+ models and include those examples often in class. The panel suggests we employ restorative circles and inclusive curriculum. Even if your district has an inclusive policy, there is a cultural aspect in the larger community that makes LGBTQ faculty and students feel unwelcome to be themselves at school! Students need to feel accepted but we fear bad press from those who are still ignorant.
The phenomenal keynote speaker at the conference, Gia Cordova said, "In school we're not taught to be happy with ourselves. We're taught to compete with each other and taught to strive for perfectionâ This leads us to what students can do for each other and themselves: kindness and acceptance are key. Students, if you do not see these values in your classroom, alert any of us who have a safe space sticker on our door.
Gia Cordova reminded us at the conference that all our young people deserve the world. I'd like to leave this post with the handwritten affirmation Ms Cordova had conference participants join in reciting aloud. Read it to yourself now. Say it aloud. Practice it and share it with others and we will make our schools the welcoming and inclusive places all our kids and community deserve and can thrive in.
Thank you, Ms. Tapia and GSA for leading the way forward at Piedmont and in the district and region, and thank you, reader, for joining with us.
Piedmont is special because of the teachers and students here. This post is a glimpse at some of the great work and activities on campus recently. From our principal Mrs. Barone judging student written newspapers for Individuals and Societies, to Mrs. Delaney creating and facilitating relationships with students that will help them in their academics and social emotional growth, to Ms. Newburger organizing an author talk field trip, to Leadership class hosting international visitors, to each of the grade levels assigning interesting projects like Elements of science in 6th, Culture Cluster in 7th, and Created Equal in 8th, to the fabulous work that students do, both in class, as community service, and as extracurricular fun, there's always something educational, entertaining, and enlightening happening at Piedmont!
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Making is at the core of Piedmont's culture WE MAKE SO MUCH, IT'S HARD TO HYPERLINK IT ALL!
Every day is #GlobalMakerDay at Piedmont! Well, maybe not EVERY day, but it IS extremely rare to walk the halls of Piedmont and not see students planning or building something across the curriculum and at all grade levels. Students are even making and creating during standardized test times, the time usually known as the least creative of the year.
Making is a given in our interdisciplinary passion projects, in Ms. Newburger's excellent Library Makerspace, in clubs, and in encore classes like Art, Band, Drama and Orchestra, but what makes me love Piedmont so much is how common it is in our core classes as well!
Consider Mr. O'Neill this week alone, from spears to swans his students were making. Props to him and all to the Individuals and Societies teachers whose students recently built their own tools when studying the stone age. They then created marketing campaigns for the tools and sold them to classmates.
The Social Studies classroom making tradition continues in the upper grades as students design build earthquake resistant structures and make period costumes living history exhibits, industrial revolution inventions (yet more industrial revolution), civil rights museums, (another Civil Rights museum) etc.
Teachers model making at Piedmont. Mr. Egnot models this by transforming his classroom into a war zone of WW1 trenches and the media center yearly through his maker skills and Ms. Frilot transforms her classroom to a poetry cafe with soft lighting, colors, and seating.
In World Language and Language Arts classes, students write songs for the Harlem Renaissance, compile playists and record their own podcasts, design and build whirligigs (both with wood, and with minecraft redstone)and recreate setting layouts and film their own movies based on their novel studies. They make culture clusters that make manifest their own poems.
In Math, students make large and small designs for the famous Scale Model Project. They also create their own board games and of course there's the yearly giant Prism-palooza!
In Science, they design their best protective egg case then test it out by catapulting the egg using a homemade catapult.
What does this culture of making lead to? It leads to kids who think creatively and make for special occasions and for no reason at all! They spend their free time building and making everything from towers to ASMR videos.
Stay tuned for more as we celebrate active learning and creating today and every day at #PiedmontIB. Send me your photos and videos if I don't happen by!
Celebrating Piedmont : a blog of Happy Happenings
"Celebrating Piedmont" logs only a small fraction of the learning magic the teachers of CMS' Piedmont Middle School, an IB World School. create daily. In that sense, it is authored by all the staff and students of Piedmont. It is curated by Ms. Gurthie who can be reached at the icons above. She'll be happy to brag about Piedmont's teachers and students any chance she gets! Please note this blog has only just begun and we have so much to show off! Come back again soon!