The many faces of school diversity

Schools are fascinating and diverse environments in which students can grow, not only personally, as they explore their individual learning

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Schools are fascinating and diverse environments in which students can grow, not only personally, as they explore their individual learning, social and spiritual development, but also as they learn to interact with their peers, teachers, administrators, and other members of their school community. School environments can be wonderful places where children learn to interact with others, and become exposed to new ways of thinking, different cultures, and other ways of looking at the world around them.

It’s often at school where children, especially those who may not have sisters or brothers at home, first learn to understand and relate to the opposite sex. Gender differences bring excellent opportunities to learn from one another’s strengths and to find balance and understanding when relating to those of another gender. Male and female role models, whether they be administrators, teachers, educational assistants, or parent volunteers, can also be beneficial in giving children opportunities to interact with and relate to adults who are not their parent, guardian or family member.

School environments may also provide opportunities for children to meet individuals whose personal experiences, situations and challenges may differ from their own. Students who have unique physical, emotional or learning needs can participate in their school community, and in turn, other students can have the opportunity to support their classmates and peers by serving them.

As our country, province, cities and towns continue to grow, the cultural make-up of those communities is also changing, as people from around the world continue to move to Canada. Many people in our communities whose parents or grandparents may have called another country ‘home,’ now consider themselves to be Canadian first. With that in mind, many of those families continue to celebrate and maintain unique elements of their culture and ethnicity, adding to the mosaic that makes our school communities so unique.

As a faith-based, Christian organization, St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division celebrates the proud tradition of Catholic education, and the richness that tradition brings to our communities, schools, students and staff. While our traditions and foundation are Catholic, we also welcome students of all faiths into our school communities. By understanding the faith and beliefs of others, we gain a deeper understanding of spirituality and what it means to be in ecumenical dialogue with other cultures and faith traditions around the world.

Schools can be some of the most engaging and diverse communities of all, and we encourage you to visit www.starcatholic.ab.ca to learn more about our Division, our schools and the communities we serve.

Dan Svitich dan.svitich@starcatholic.ab.ca is a Ponoka Trustee on the STAR Catholic Schools Division Board. STAR Catholic Schools has more than 3,300 students in 10 schools located in Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Lacombe, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.