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Looking into the 'Windows on Windermere's Wonderful World'

If you told a first-grader that everybody has a head and everyone needs a hat, he or she would understand that statement. Along the same line, if you told that first-grader that some people might prefer an African head wrap to a red hat baseball hat, they can understand that also.


That is how Windermere Boulevard Elementary School is teaching young children the big concept of everyone is the same, yet unique. And that all of our families have customs and traditions that are similar yet unique. So while one family might have a tradition of making pasta from scratch, another student can relate because his or her family also makes food from scratch.


Through a new initiative, the school is opening a "window" so students and staff can see what they have in common with one another.


The "Windows on Windermere's Wonderful World" is a way to connect the school's diverse population through commonalities and learn from the traditions and customs of Windermere families. A video series featuring Windermere families and classroom lessons will help spread the program's message.


Last year Windermere faculty hosted Dr. Jevon Hunter, an assistant professor of elementary education and reading and the Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in Urban Education at Buffalo State College, who spoke about Funds of Knowledge. The funds of knowledge are collections of knowledge based in cultural practices that are a part of a family's inner culture, work experience, or their daily routine. It is the knowledge and expertise that students and their family members have because of their roles in their families, communities and culture.


Winderemere incorporated the concepts from Dr. Hunter's presentation to create "Windows". The school created a video about the hat business operated by the Michelin family. It is the first in a video series highlighting the families and their funds of knowledge.


"The video of the Michelin family takes the simple idea that everybody wears hats to reinforce our belief in the wonderful uniqueness of all of the individuals and families our school represents," said Mary Lavin, principal of the Early Childhood Center at Windermere.


"These videotaped 'windows' show us significant bits of knowledge about our students' families and should provide us with a better connection to our students' lives outside of school," said Mrs. Lavin. "Understanding where our students are coming from impacts how we treat and teach them. One goal of our Funds of Knowledge that is most applicable in the classroom is to better know and understand the strengths of our families whose lives are full and rich and extend beyond their school day."


Through these videos, the school will be reinforcing its goal which is to help all staff learn from the students and families in a relevant fashion.  Look for more videos throughout the year.