Our recent story about the Highbridge Green School highlighted a unique collaboration between parents and teachers, who worked together to plan an English unit for the school’s first class of sixth graders.
Fueled by parents’ desire to continue shaping the new school they helped create, the co-planned unit included an interview project that students worked on at home. We visited the school last month when students shared their projects at a fair in the cafeteria.
“It was kind of hard, but I felt like I was prepared,” Aliesse Doucoure said, describing the process leading up to the fair.
After reading “Dragon Wings,” a book about a Chinese boy who immigrated to the United States, Doucoure and her classmates interviewed parents and community members — and in at least one case, a teacher — who had their own immigration experiences to share.
“I was learning information I never knew,” Doucoure said of the interview with her father. “He’s this strong person. So when he told me he was afraid on his way here, it shocked me.”
In class, students wrote essays comparing the perspectives they read in the book and heard in their interviews. At home, with parents’ support, they made colorful posters with information about China or the countries where their parents were born.
Standing by her poster, Haley Alonso said she had never asked her dad about his experience immigrating from Cuba until she interviewed him for this project.
“It was a little hard talking to my dad about stuff like where he came from,” Alonso said. “I don’t really talk to him about stuff like that.” She said she was surprised to learn that her dad came to the United States in a plane instead of a boat.
Adrian Serrata was seven years old when he and his mom, Margarita Serrata, moved from the Dominican Republic, so the broad strokes of her story weren’t new to him. But he said the interview helped him learn about what the shared experience felt like for her.
As an example, he described the plane ride, which he remembers as the scariest moment of the trip. But his mom “felt more confident,” he said, because she was older and had been on a plane before.
Margarita said in Spanish that alongside his curiosity about the plane ride, Adrian wanted to know “what was different between being here and my country and how I adapted here, to another culture and language.”
“We’ve lived it all together, and I’m still here pushing him,” Margarita added, alluding to the central role parents played in this project, sharing their experiences and helping their kids prepare posters at home.