Grandparent's Day in Anne Bared's kindergarten class was all about family and culture on Wednesday.
Robert Horton helps his granddaughter Janiah Ryan, 6, write a journal entry during Grandparent's Day at Stevens Creek Elementary School.
By J. Scott Trubey
Many kindergarten classes such as Bared's celebrate Grandparent's Day as something fun for the family and to encourage family involvement in children's education.
And in Columbia County, which according to the 2000 Census has nearly 83 percent of its population caucasian, Bared's class is somewhat unusual.
The teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School boasts a class with pupils from Japan, Germany and Latin America, in addition to the United States.
Students need only look around the room for an education in other cultures, and Bared uses her class's ethnic diversity as a teaching tool.
Bared, a native of Miami and a doctoral student, has taught elementary grades in a multicultural environment for 13 years.
"This is such a diverse world," she said.
"As the distance between cultures shortens with the advance of technology and increased immigration to the United States, knowledge of other cultures will be vital to the students' future. So will a knowledge of foreign languages,'' Bared said.
Class assignments are designed to incorporate the native languages of all of the students.
Bared speaks Spanish, but needed the help of the school's English to Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, teacher to translate songs into German and Japanese.
Yuriko Hishiya and her mother, Maya, eat cookies on Grandparent's Day at Stevens Creek Elementary School. Yuriko's grandparents live in Japan and could not attend.
By J. Scott Trubey
The songs the children sing are simple. They recite the days of the week in each language to the tune of Clementine and a good morning song to Frere Jacques.
She said the songs help all students learn cultural sensitivity, while reassuring and comforting those who do not speak English well.
The students shared their songs with Wednesday's guests.
Because of distance, some children's grandparents could not attend, so the parents or any other "special persons" of the children also were invited.
The ethnic diversity of the class lends itself well to the school's mission of preparing children for a global society, principal Michele Paschal said.
"Teaching the kids at this young age the acceptance of culture is so important," she said.
"The United States isn't as much a melting pot as it is a salad, with all the ingredients," Bared said. "The children are investigating their own backgrounds, heritage and culture, which is then incorporated in (instruction)," she said.
On top of a bookcase at the front of the room, colorful stickers mark the countries of the students' ancestral origin on a globe. When it comes down to it, many Americans are immigrants, to a degree, she said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.