Upper Grade DEI Discussions with Mrs. Rios and Dr. K
Upper Grade DEI Discussions with Mrs. Rios and Dr. K

By Christina Rios, Interim Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Throughout the year, Dr. Kavanaugh and I will be working with the 5th and 6th graders to lead discussions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The lessons will include a read aloud to guide the discussion, current events, or an integration of the Teaching Tolerance standards. 
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the students listened to Separate is Never Equal, by Duncan Tonatiuh. This book highlights the story of Hispanics fighting for justice and equality through the experience of Sylvia Mendez and her family, who helped bring an end to segregated schooling in California in 1947. In 2011, Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her tireless efforts to educate young people about the desegregation movement and its vital role in the history of the United States.
The discussion during and after the story incorporated Teaching Tolerance standards focused on justice, as well as empathy and strengthening awareness. We began by defining and talking about segregation and the importance of treating others fairly and respectfully, regardless of what they look like. While learning about Mendez and her family's fight for justice and equality, the students shared their reactions, which ranged from anger because of the way that they were treated to a sense of pride because different organizations supported the Mendez family as they fought for justice.
We referenced the quote, "When you fight for justice, others will follow," to have the students connect this statement to their own experiences. We reiterated the importance of taking action by speaking up if something happens that is hurtful or disrespects you or your culture. This circled back to our character education program of how you can demonstrate "Kindness in Action."