By Debora Land, parent of Ogden 6th grader and parent volunteer
Ogden International School is an International Baccalaureate World School. Our school mission states that Ogden International provides a world-class education to students who will become leaders of change within the global community in the 21st century and beyond. Ogden International is committed to providing a distinctive, high-quality international education which cultivates intellectual inquiry and global engagement.
Simply said, what we really want is for our kids to be able to navigate successfully in a diverse world after they finish their education. They need the skills which will enable them to do whatever their job may be, but equally important they need to be able to work with co-workers, suppliers, and customers who come from different backgrounds, judging them on their abilities and contributions rather than their cultural and family history. (continues below)
How is Ogden International doing in this area? We can look at the Illinois Board of Education data and see that we have a very diverse student body in our Middle School and High School (2016 data shown). We are probably one of the most diverse schools in Chicago.
That part is easy - the kids are here. But in order to look at how we are doing with our mission of creating global citizens, we have to look at how the students integrate together. Teachers can assign a mixed seating chart in their classrooms, but if you want to really see the proof of how well our students have internalized this global culture, the true test is to see what happens in the cafeteria and on the playground when they are not forced by staff to mix.
I have had the opportunity to spend over 100 hours this school year as a parent volunteer working as part of the security team during our lunch periods in the cafeteria and on the playground at the West Campus. You might expect that students would seek out friends based on ethnic background during free time. What I see during my time with all the students during the lunch periods, for both the Middle School and the High School, is that our students integrate themselves, hanging out with a diverse group of friends when they have the choice of who to spend their free time with. Students pick their friends based on shared interests and experiences and not just based on family heritage. The proof is in the pictures - taken on December 19, 2017 during one of my volunteer shifts. These are candid shots, lunch periods 4-7, taken with permission of the students photographed.
Our Administration and Staff have set the tone for fulfilling the mission of creating global citizens. The measure of success is how well our students live this mission as part of our daily school culture. Academics is only one part of the equation for success in life after school. As a parent who has lived and worked in many parts of our country and abroad, I know that the ability to function effectively in a diverse, integrated group is equally important. Well done, Ogden!
*Editor's note: The title of this post is a riff on a well-known book on education, "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations about Race" by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Ogden, like all schools across our country, grapple with issues of bias and we do not claim to be perfect, but we are very proud of the inclusive culture exhibited by our students.
This blog has contributions from a variety of faculty and staff at Ogden International.