“I Tell Them All the Time, You are Going to Change the World” – Equity at Maple Grove Elementary

Equity in the Classroom – 1st Grade

It’s time for art in Jill Folsom’s 1st grade class at Maple Grove Elementary.

“We are working on things inspired by Alma. Alma makes her paintings look like bricks,” says 1st grader Miles Lake.

The Alma unit is part of Mrs. Folsom’s Black History Month project, but on a larger scale, it’s part of her year-long focus on equity. 

“Equity standards have become a foundational piece of our classroom and we’ve used them to get to know the kiddos,” says Folsom.

From books, to drawings and readings, Mrs. Folsom is bringing out the best and most authentic parts of her students. 

“The idea of fair and unfair with 6 and 7 year olds, I really think is their superpower honestly,” said Folsom.

Even with a few simple strokes of watercolor paint, students in Mrs. Folsom’s class are learning incredible things and the work continues day after day. 

“Our K-5 staff got the opportunity to hear Goldie Muhammad speak earlier this year and she said something that really stuck with me,” says Folsom. “She said that we are not just teachers of school subjects, we are teachers of humanity.”

Equity in the Classroom – Maple Grove Counselors

Of course these important lessons don’t just happen in 1st grade. Melissa Stone is one of the counselors at Maple Grove. One of her amazing projects is on display in the hallway.

Stone has developed a “Follow the Leader” display. Each month she displays different leaders from across the world with a short biography attached. It allows students the chance to learn about the most influential people in their lives and discuss the impact they are making on society.

Equity in the Classroom – 5th Grade

The work continues to shine in Jason Lawry’s 5th grade classroom. These students have already learned the equity basics, now it’s time to put them to work.

“It’s not something that’s always going to be structured and planned out,” says Lawry. “Just letting the discussion happen and when we see those moments, ok, let’s talk about it.”  

During Black History Month, Mr. Lawry’s students studied heroes, monumental African American leaders, still leaving a legacy today. 

“The person I studied was very nice. He jumped into a burning vehicle three times to save people in the military who were on his side, and he died six weeks later so he could save lives of others,” says 5th grader Cooper Burke.

These are the stories and projects that will stick with these students, even as they leave Maple Grove next year. 

“They have power, they have influence, they can make a difference,” says Lawry. “I have the resources, I have this knowledge, I have this information at my fingertips, what am I going to do? How do I take that and make the world better?” 

Equity In The Classroom – Online Learning

Melissa Eadon is teaching online this year and those lessons on equity are still a central focus of her lesson plans, but in a very unique way.

“The critical thinking piece that goes beyond just a reading lesson,” says Eadon. “Whose story is being told in this particular situation, or is this fair? Why or why not?” says Eadon.

Whether it comes in class conversation or online lunch buddies, these critical convos are happening on a regular basis.

“It’s wait a minute, I have a friend who is not being treated equally, why? What can I do? How can I stand up for that? What action can I take?” says Eadon.

Equity In The Classroom – Maple Grove Elementary

From their very first day at Maple Grove, to their very last day, equity and learning go hand in hand. Sometimes as part of the plan, other times it just comes naturally and that’s a great thing for our next generation. 

“I tell them all the time, y’all are going to change the world,” says Folsom.  I think they do believe it, you just have to make that space for it to happen.”