By Kathy Greeley, Literacy Coach
On Tuesday, November 22, just before Thanksgiving break, students and their families were surprised to find a large group of G&P teachers and staff welcoming them with signs and music at the front door. The signs read:
“This school welcomes you!”
“We welcome everyone with respect and love!”
“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“Thanks for being YOU!”
As students streamed off the buses and into the school, they first looked puzzled and then broke into big smiles. “Why are you doing this?” a number of them wanted to know. “We wanted you to know that you are safe and that we love you,” teachers responded. Immediately following the election, there had been reports of increasing incidents of bullying, racism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment. The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state-wide union that represents Cambridge teachers, put out a call for teachers to “stand up and stand out” to welcome all their children to school as a safe and respectful place.
On short notice, about 25 teachers and other staff, heeded the call with their home-made signs, greeting children by name as they entered the building. “When I saw the children’s faces, it just warmed my heart,” said kindergarten teacher, Claudie Jean-Baptiste. “I felt that we were doing something to show them that we appreciate them and care about them.”
Perhaps the sign that most captured the spirit of G&P was the one made by Linnaea Adams, 3rd grade teacher. She explained that the words came from a song her church choir used to sing.
“Love in any language,
Straight from the heart,
Pulls us all together,
And once we learn to speak it,
All the world will hear,
Love in any language
Fluently spoken here!”