At Frederick Elementary School (FES), a Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) neighborhood charter school, creating a culture of success and celebrating community has been a central theme since FES joined the BCP network in 2017.
Inside and on the walkways and crosswalks leading to the modern school building, renovated in 2017, are the timeless Adinkra symbols. Created by the Akan people of Ghana, these visual guideposts encourage students, faculty/staff, parents, and all FES visitors to embrace Wisdom, Leadership, and Community – FES’s core values and the foundation of the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Under the leadership of Principal Tetra Jackson, who was promoted on July 1 after serving as FES’ founding Assistant Principal for six years, these core values are being expanded into new DEI initiatives.
According to the most recent census, the Hispanic population in Baltimore City increased from 4% in 2010 to 8% in 2020. This is evident in FES’s student body as the multilingual learners population has increased to 5.6%. As a result, FES decided to add their first foreign language program to the school’s curriculum. Students in grades 3-5 now have the opportunity to learn Spanish through the Rosetta Stone program.
“This is an important addition to our curriculum as it encourages young minds to develop in communication, problem-solving skills, concentration, and creativity,” Ms. Jackson explains. “At FES we are focused on maintaining a strong culture within our community and the surrounding neighborhoods. Adding a foreign language helps to promote inclusion within the school and within our school community.”
FES also launched an inaugural DEI committee composed of FES staff members and parent volunteers.The Committee’s charge is for all shareholders to be culturally sensitive, aware, and knowledgeable on FES and committed to cultivating a learning environment that embraces diversity for all.
“The goal of DEI at FES is to embrace stakeholders’ differences, including their beliefs, abilities, preferences, backgrounds, values, and identities, with an extension of equality and diversity,” adds Ms. Jackson. “It means that all people, without exception, have the right to be included, respected, and appreciated as valuable members of our learning community.”
FES will host its first International Day on May 3, 2024, with plans for a schoolwide celebration of the cultures, backgrounds, and heritages represented by the FES and West Baltimore community.
Ms. Jackson, the DEI Committee, and the FES faculty and staff are excited by the new initiatives. “The benefits of DEI at FES permit several cultures to coexist equitably, while fusing their cultures together to form a unique environment of different ethnicities and religions that embodies a community of awareness, acknowledgement, and understanding at FES,” Ms. Jackson says.
Cultural difference should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity.