Sounds like home

Please enjoy this excerpt from the FY21 Impact Report.

“U2L is different from our other partners because they really listen. They care about what is happening on our campus, and together we act as thought partners, solving challenges and witnessing fulfilling results.”

Principal Sandra Barrios

Jack Lowe Elementary

Last summer at the height of racial tensions in our community, Jack Lowe Elementary Principal Sandra Barrios approached her U2L Liaison with two concerns:

  • How can we maintain the cohesion of our diverse adult staff?
  • How can we build trust among a majority refugee student community?

U2L met with Jack Lowe and developed a plan that included teacher training and environmental messaging. First, our SEL programs team co-designed and facilitated cultural competency training for Jack Lowe staff around the importance of embracing diversity and differing viewpoints to create a sense of belonging for their students. This quickly translated into a year-long study of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain to translate these practices into real-time instruction.

To affirm these positive messages around cultural diversity, the United to Learn team explored ways to transform hallways to mirror those beliefs.

And it worked! After U2L installed a collection of hallway murals reflecting the homelands of many newcomers, students began to feel seen, heard, welcomed, and celebrated. One early morning, Principal Barrios overheard:

“Oh my gosh, it’s me! It’s my land!”

In the words of a second-grader, the school became a comforting place, just like home.