What’s Going on at Kilmer?
“Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.” – George Dei
For Kilmer principal Annette McBride, George Dei’s quote is not just a tagline. It’s a philosophy that she and the rest of her staff embody every day. “Diversity is our greatest asset,” said McBride. “We have a variety of languages spoken at the school with a diverse student body and staff. We are teaching our students to be global citizens, and what better way to practice that then in school?” Kilmer staff regularly finds connection points for students who might have different experiences, traditions or cultures, but demonstrate the same values. “I think it’s important to find a way to welcome new families to the district and make them feel included. The staff learns and nurtures these differences to show students that we are really all global citizens,” said McBride.
At Kilmer, sharing circles is an important part of students’ every day school experience. Staff prioritizes creating safe spaces where students can be vulnerable and share important experiences with others. “When we share experiences with each other, we create empathy. It’s a way to teach our students by modeling our behaviors,” said McBride. For instance, students might find out that another speaks Russian or that their dad was in the military. The practice of sharing experiences allows students to discover different things about their peers and find common interests. Those interests, then, become a part of the larger Kilmer community. The practice also forces students to think twice about what to say. “We all became teachers for a reason. Most of us do it because we think it’s an important and impactful way to dedicate our lives to children. Our inclusion practices are a priority for me as a leader of this school. It’s what I want for myself and what I expect from others,” said McBride.