As I awoke last weekend, I found myself dreading the task of the day that was awaiting me. We are attending a wedding this month and I needed to go and buy an appropriate dress for the occasion. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a “shopper”. I love clothes and I love new clothes, but the thought of trying on endless outfits, to find one that fits the bill, as well as the waistline ranks up there with any other domestic chore.
But, I needed to find something suitable so I gathered my nerve and reluctantly entered a very chic dress salon. Much to my surprise, I was greeted by a pleasant, helpful and down to earth sales woman, who helped me select the perfect outfit, along with a few other essentials. By the time I exited the shop, I hugged her and thanked her for making this experience painless and almost enjoyable.
As I was driving home, the song, “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison was playing on the radio and I recalled the scene in the movie, by the same title, where Julia Roberts (dressed in her boots, half-top and mini skirt) enters a chic boutique. Within minutes, all of the saleswomen pass judgement on her and subsequently question her right to be in the store and purchase clothing. Roberts is quickly made to feel unaccepted and unwanted ~ although her pockets are lined with thousands of dollars. She eventually returns to the store in her new attire and shares, “Mistake, big mistake ~ Huge!”
I can’t help but wonder if some of our students ever feel that way as they walk into their classrooms each day, knowing that they don’t have the latest, greatest, cleanest clothes, book bags, lunches etc. ? Do we pass judgement on them because of their postal code? Do we expect less of them because of their socio-economic status? Do we encourage them to “shop” elsewhere?
Or do we embrace each student who walks through our door, knowing that within them lies a destiny and great potential? We are only one part of their journey. But we have an obligation to ensure that ALL students feel welcome in our classrooms, in our schools and in our communities. And once all of our learners feel that they belong, that’s when great things happen. Not only for the students, but for the entire school community.