There’s an ongoing lesson in diversity to be learned every day as kids speak 37 languages at this elementary school.
In the Kindergarten class, children gather on a rug and are welcomed into their morning routine by their teacher, Kara O’Brien.
“Give them your right hand/Look them in the eye/Put a smile on your face/Then you say, ‘Hi!’”
Each song is part of the purpose of helping students learn English and communicate with students from other cultures.
Welcome to Jydstrup Elementary School, where every teacher has different kids in their class from all over the world. Children come from Ethiopia, Ukraine, Brazil, Thailand,and other countries, some with considerable English skills, many with little to none. The morning routine is more than a game of ABC songs and wiggle games; it’s a means by which the students learn English and learn to speak with each other.
Such diversity isn’t unusual in a school where 37 languages are spoken and in a district with more than 85,000 students who speak 83 languages other than English. About 85 percent of the non-English speaking students speak Spanish, but also Urdu, Bulgarian, Turkish, Thai and Hindi.
“The impact of learning about other people is so (important) at kindergarten,” said O’Brien, a teacher for 14 years. “You teach kids to look on the inside rather than their appearances.”
It’s not unusual to see children speaking Oromo or Hindi to their parents before being dropped off in the morning. But once they walk through the school’s door, they speak English.
Inside Jydstrup’s cafeteria, the word “Welcome” is written in more than 20 languages on long rolls of paper. Principal David Frydman started the display to embrace diversity at his school.