CultureALL Day Connects to Students’ Heritage, Learning

The three-hour early out on February 27 made a perfect day for Johnston Middle School students to learn about different cultures from around the world, thanks to the school’s partnership with CultureALL.

According to their website, CultureALL is an Iowa-based non-profit organization who uses real people and resources to connect them with the needs of schools, communities and businesses to shift perspectives, discover new concepts, and experience differences between cultures. They aim to spark a desire to know more the people and cultures around them.

JMS building leaders felt the wide range of programs offered by CultureALL volunteers met the diverse needs of the eighth and ninth grade student body.

“We strongly believe that every student needs to feel a connection to what they’re learning and why they’re learning it,” said Raine Mollenbeck, JMS associate principal. “A day with the CultureALL classes gives students the opportunity to learn something new, connect to their heritage or culture, and share an experience with classmates. We see a lot of positive in bringing this to our students.”

Students rotated between a variety of CultureALL sessions, including West African Drumming, Native American Stories, Latin American Dance, Chinese 5 Animals, Indian Culture & Bollywood, Stories of our Stuff, Day of the Dead, Avram and his Accordion, and Nepalese Yoga.

In one of the sessions – Indian Culture & Bollywood – JMS students led the charge of educating their peers. Traditional Indian games were taught and played, authentic food was shared, and cultural traditions, such as the art of henna, were shown to others.

“We love seeing student-led learning like this,” said Mollenbeck. “It gives students the opportunity to share background and knowledge they might not otherwise get to. Their sense of pride in their heritage is so powerful! In turn, hundreds of other students learn more about their peers and see a side to them that doesn’t always come through in the classroom. It’s been a great day for our building.”

Other Johnston schools have worked with CultureALL in the past and have also planned programming for this spring.