Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
Perry Township Schools is proud to be a school district that serves a diverse population. We have 4,763 English learning students who represent 67 different countries and 73 different languages.
While 49.7 percent of our students identify as white, the remaining 50.3 percent identify as Asian, Hispanic, black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or multiracial. We are honored to count these students and their families among our neighbors and friends.
The district has hosted a variety of recent programs to celebrate the diversity and gifts of our community. Southport High welcomed approximately 300 visitors to its Cultures of Southport event, which featured several students who graciously shared their immigration stories. This project was a collaboration between the English Learner Department and the Instructional Media Center, in which teachers and the media specialist worked together to incorporate cross-curricular activities in Advanced Placement human geography, regular geography, Spanish, biology, English 9 and statistics.
While standing on massive maps measuring 35 feet by 26 feet, students literally walked guests through their journeys, starting at their homeland and concluding in Perry Township – with stops in other countries, as needed. Visitors also enjoyed cultural displays, international crafts and native snacks. It’s heartening to know that so many people took time out of their day to meet and support our students.
Representing 19 different countries, each student had a unique perspective to share. Our administrators eagerly accepted the invitation to interact with students one-on-one and learn their stories.
The experience was truly enlightening and taught us so much about the resilience and character of our scholars. For a moment, students and administrators switched roles. The students became teachers – expertly sharing their stories. The administrators listened intently and asked thoughtful follow-up questions. Afterward, some of the students taught the staff a skill from their culture, including dancing, transporting firewood and speaking their native tongue. The event was a joyful celebration of humanity and provided some insight into the spirit and fortitude of our kids.
Members of our English Learning Department do so much more than teach English to students who come from distant lands. They also help to educate our staff. They host lunch and events to teach our employees how to be welcoming, inviting and respectful to all.
They help us to understand the nuances and sensitivities of other cultures, including Spanish, Chin/Burmese, Syrian and African. These groups represent our district in large numbers, and their experiences often differ from our customs and expectations. Accommodating these differences is a critical component of our inclusion efforts.
We want every student to be heard and included. We can learn so much from each other, but the learning process must be continuous and we look forward to future opportunities to celebrate our community.