Lower School Diversity Curriculum
The curriculum in Westchester and Manhattan Lower Schools exposes students to the concept of community by helping students appreciate the interdependency of people and the importance of diversity. The program concentrates on recognizing both differences and similarities.
The fostering of multiculturalism in the lower schools is not restricted solely to the classroom. The lower schools highlight diversity and inclusion of learning differences by maintaining a bulletin board on well-known individuals with learning disabilities in different careers. In addition, community meetings introduce students to social service organizations such as the Westchester Food Bank and the Rwanda Education Assistance Project (REAP). These projects allow the lower school communities to acknowledge the needs both within our community and across the globe.
Topics such as the ones listed below help Windward students in the lower schools develop a working knowledge of what makes a community and what each member can do to empower themselves and their community.
In the first and second grades, students are introduced to the community principle. Students are read picture books that emphasize various cultural and religious celebrations such as My Two Grandmothers by Effin Older and K is for Kwanzaa by Juwanda Ford. These texts spark discussions of similarities and differences among cultures and religions and allow students to recognize various points of view. In addition, first and second graders explore philanthropy, humanity, and sustainability during their unit on micro-economics. After reading Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier and discussing Heifer International, students collect funds to contribute to the organization.
Third-grade students embark on a world tour investigating the geography, history, government, economy, culture, and community structure of one country per continent. Coupled with art projects such as creating totem poles representing their study of Mexico and practicing Chinese calligraphy during their study of China, the curriculum exposes children to aspects of people around the world, while closely examining their similarities. This leads students to the understanding that despite the distinct characteristics people may have, the great similarities they share serve as the foundation for unity.
In the fourth grade, students study Native American culture as they learn about the Algonquin and Iroquois tribes–the first New Yorkers. Culminating in a discussion of the impact of European exploration on Native Americans, students learn the need for constructive and mutually beneficial interactions between different groups as they integrate.