Thanks to your generous contributions ot the SMS Annual Fund, the staff at SMS is able to engage in meaningful staff development opportunities throughout the year and during our monthly staff meetings.  In January’s staff meeting we were joined by former SMS parent, Dr. Lucretia Berry.  Dr. Berry is a part of Brownicity: Many Hues. One Humanity, an organization, “dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for racial healing.” (Brownicity, n.d.) Several years ago when Dr. Berry’s oldest daughter, Sinclair, attended SMS, I read the book, The Colors of Us, by Karen Katz before the children drew their self-portraits, as we did this year.  That evening, Sinclair went home and announced that we are all different shades of brown, which was a concept that resonated with the Berry family.  It then became the perspective Dr. Berry and her husband used to guide their discussions of race in their own family. Dr. Berry uses this same concept when engaging in discussions of race with students, staff, and families, across the state.  She emphasizes the need to discuss race with children, recognizing that we are all different shades of brown and therefore that we each have a different experience in society.  She encourages adults to get comfortable with discussing race with children, allowing for opportunities for empowerment and connecting the past with the present.  I encourage you all to visit Brownicity’s Facebook page, Brownicity:Many Hues. One Humanity, and their website, for more information and a wealth of resources for guiding these conversations.  

In the classroom, our geography studies have taken us to Asia, and more specifically, China.  We have several Chinese artifacts in our classroom for the children to explore.  We have a traditional Chinese shirt the children can wear, models of Asian foods and chopsticks, Chinese paper art, currency, and beautiful photographs depicting Chinese architecture, people, and fine art.  We have been learning about animals found in Asia and coloring the Chinese flag.  We also read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, by Natasha Yim, which is a Chinese American retelling Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  We compared that story to the traditional Goldilocks story and The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett.  In China, pandas are a symbol of peace, harmony, and friendship.  In recognition of the meaning and beauty of the panda, we created panda faces with torn pieces of white and black paper. The children first drew the panda’s head and face and then glued small pieces of torn paper in each area.  Each panda is so unique and they look wonderful displayed in our classroom.  On February 5th we will celebrate Chinese New Year with a fun and musical parade in the classroom.

In science we have been discussing and comparing mammals and reptiles. The children know that mammals: have hair, breathe air, and can nurse their young.  Meanwhile, reptiles breathe air and have scaly skin.  Students looked through various nature magazines searching for photographs of mammals and reptiles to cut and glue on to its corresponding chart. From here we will study amphibians and birds.

Our Explorers have been learning about the parts of a story.  Stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and typically have a problem and solution.  We have also learned about the setting and main/supporting characters.  Each Explorer is currently working on their own story, which they have planned using a story map with all the parts of the story we have discussed.  We have also visited the Boy’s school in Old Salem.  This site has several engaging, hands-on activities for the children, making it a favorite site thus far in our Old Salem adventures.

Brownicity: Many Hues. One Humanity. (n.d.) About [Facebook page], Retrieved January 26 2019, from