Addressing Diversity at Jamieson: Q&A
The Fund: Can you tell us about your school?
Robert Baughman: Jamieson has a strong base with the community, so the surrounding community has high levels of trust and respect for Jamieson. Demographics have changed and continue to change, but we are still a school that has high expectations for students. We pride ourselves in being a place students want to be and where parents want their children to attend.
The Fund: Jamieson has a diverse student population. Can you speak more about how that diversity has impacted your leadership?
Baughman: It allowed me to become more aware of the differences people bring to the educational experience. There are many differences that people bring with them. You quickly have to learn, understand and become aware of other people’s situations and ways of life. You have to take account for them, their needs, their desires and what they bring to the table in order to better serve them and their children.
The Fund: How has the diversity impacted education at Jamieson?
Baughman: We recognize that not everyone learns the same way. There are unique aspects among various cultures that people from various parts of the world bring that an American education doesn’t cover, and we had to learn how to incorporate that.
The Fund: How does diversity foster a better learning environment?
Baughman: It’s really easy to not have a diverse view of others or the world. When you bring people together from different backgrounds you are forced to expand your understanding of other cultures and experiences. It allows you to develop a larger capacity for empathy so you can then better work with others towards common goals that benefit everyone. It allows you to understand multiple approaches to achieving similar goals.
The Fund: One of your values is authentic community-parent partnership. Can you talk about how you establish those relationships with diverse families?
Baughman: If they are new to the country and speak a different language and are navigating other things, you need to go out and engage with them. You use the time that you have available. I still firmly believe in face-to-face communication is the strongest way to interact with people. I’m out at the beginning and end of the school day and we put on events throughout the year geared towards academics, parent-learning and celebrating students.
The Fund: Thirty-one percent of your students are English learners. How are those students supported?
Baughman: We motivate our entire staff to receive an ESL endorsement so they have a stronger knowledge base on how to work with students who are learning English. We collaborate as a staff on units of study by looking at components in order to support EL learners. We utilize support from our bilingual staff. Within the teaching environment, we also diversify the room with EL learners and strong English speakers in groups. We utilize the students as a support system as well.