John Hay Social Justice Moments
Summary: Students at John Hay Elementary learn about different cultures through Social Justice Moments
Monday’s Magic Moments
It’s Monday morning, and John Hay Elementary Principal Nicole Silver is busy. Really busy. On top of monitoring drop off and ushering students to class, Principal Silver is rounding up the students who are participating in the day’s Social Justice Moment.
Every Monday, a small group of students gather in the library to inform the school about a particular topic. The event is broadcast to classrooms over Microsoft Teams.
Today’s topic: Native American Heritage Month.
Three anxious but eager students – Frances, Teddy, and Xantho – practice their lines as they wait for the livestream to begin. After working out some issues with the technology, Principal Silver starts the show. It’s announcements and introductions then each student sits in front of the screen to read their part.
Having students read from a sheet of paper might seem easy to some, but these Monday moments are no easy feat. Once Principal Silver picks a topic, she must find students who are willing to participate, work with them on a script then rehearse with the students to make sure they are ready. She also creates a slideshow to go along with the lesson.
It’s a lot for one person, let alone a school leader, to juggle, but according to Principal Silver, the work is worth the effort. She’s changing the school’s culture one Monday at a time.
“It’s really important that kids know the backgrounds of their peers, and that it’s celebrated,” she said. “… if they can grow up celebrating who they are and their uniqueness, and the whole school thinks it’s amazing and awesome … I think that makes it a really special place.”
Hay Elementary’s Social Justice Moments began during hybrid learning to introduce ethnic studies into the school. The school is participating in the Black Lives Matter at School Year of Purpose – ongoing activities and reflection that take place each month of the school year.
Principal Silver is using the Year of Purpose’s monthly themes to guide the Monday morning moments.
Earlier themes have included the school’s PRIDE motto (patient, respectful, inclusive, determined, and engaged). In December, the theme will focus on diversity using topics like Festivals of Lights and Human Rights Day.
Principal Silver and her staff want the students to understand that differences are something to be proud about and celebrate.
“We knew that we have students in our school who celebrate all different kinds of things and identify in different ways, and we wanted to highlight that so that students could be proud of it.”