Hoover's UnityWorks team (top L). Teacher Robyn Harris explains the activity to her students (top R).
As part of their UnityWorks Action Plan to improve race relations, 50 staff
and almost 700 students at Hoover Elementary School learned about the origins of skin color and created their own portraits, mixing paint for accurate skin-colors.
Principal Luz Juarez-Stump reports that there had been an increase in racial name-calling and hostility in recent months, but since completing the lessons, there have been no incidents of racial bias at all. “Not one!” she said. "We’re all in this together.”
Watch this short moving video about Hoover's Journey towards acceptance.
From teacher Jana Hoberg: “Our Multicultural Festival was the culminating program for a wonderful, unifying educational process which included months of research and preparation by the entire school community. We worked together in planning teams with students, teachers, administrators, parents and other community members to learn about the different cultures and ethnic groups represented at our school. Our site team's goal was to increase community involvement, which went from only five people at the first meeting to over 450 participants at the final event!” (Parent Jacoba Barrios shares her experiences through a translator, above right.)
Diversity Plan Unifies School Community
In light of concerns about academic performance, Washington Middle School was designated as a Required Action District (RAD) by the State Board of Education, and was given the assignment of increasing parent involvement and improving school climate.
As Assistant Principal, Julio Sanchez explains, "Our UnityWorks Team created an action plan that focused on these issues, and involved parents by sharing our cultures through the arts, performances and food. We've been improving the program for four years now, and have been making progress towards our goals every year."
During monthly gatherings of staff, faculty, students, parents and community members, each cultural group prepared a unique presentation for a year-end, family-friendly evening of culture, entertainment, and educational experiences. Mr. Sanchez reports that "The program provided many opportunities to advance the conversation about unity and diversity, and to demonstrate respect for the cultural backgrounds of all the students."
• Traditional dances: Aztec, Native American, Fusion dance group, Mexican folkloric
• Cultural art making: aguinaldos, beading, cookie decoration, bracelets
• Cultural food: tamales, pozole, fry bread, champurado, fried chicken
Garfield Elementary School teacher Amy Moloso created a colorful "family tree" using photographs of her 4th and 5th grade students, with cutouts of their arms and hands for the branches.
What a wonderful way to illustrate unity in diversity!
More Great Ideas from our UnityWorks Site Teams
No Room in My Heart for Prejudice
Roosevelt Elementary school created a “Unity Wall” which included this display on “No Room in My Heart for Prejudice.” Here, librarian Leigh Lohrasbi & school counselor Lupita Mason add photos of every staff member and student to the wall.
The Roosevelt UnityWorks Team also organized a classroom‐based art and essay competition, inviting students to explain what "No room in my heart for prejudice" means to them.
As a key part of this project, rather than grouping the photos by classroom or arranging them in alphabetical order, the photos were deliberately placed next to those from other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Students were then asked to locate
their own photo, to meet the two people on either side, and to say hello.
In a letter to staff, Principal Dan Williams explains: “We continue to educate our students year‐long in the understanding that although we are physically and culturally different, we can learn to respect each other since we are all part of the same race: human. Teachers, you are our best hope to make a difference in each classroom. If we change the lives of even one student, it is worth it.”