This story originally appeared at InspireMore.
Teachers often go above and beyond to include all members of their student body in order to build a sense of community and belonging.
Mary Beth Ryan has been doing just that in her kindergarten classroom for over 12 years. She recently made viral waves online when she shared a video of a parent reading to students in her classroom, opening an important discussion about the place of individual cultures within our educational system.
Mary Beth works at Ridge Lawn School in Chicago, Illinois, and she often invites parents to read a book for story time to the eager kindergartners. Kids this age love it when their parents come into the classroom to volunteer, so when a parent whose first language was not English approached the teacher about reading to the class, Mary Beth didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“Parent, ‘I would like to come read to the class, but I can’t read English.’ Me, ‘well, please come read in your language.’ Parent, ‘really?’ Me, ‘of course!’ And, she did and it was amazing!! Thank you to this mom for reading to us! You made your daughter proud!” Mary Beth wrote on Twitter.
Like many non-native speakers, this parent had learned how to speak English well enough to get by in the world, but she had never learned how to read and write the language. This is common in all areas of the world because language is easier to learn by ear than it is to read and write. As an educator, Mary Beth understood this fact better than most people might, plus she wanted her student to feel the same pride at having their parent visit the classroom as every other kid.
“I love seeing how proud kids are when their parents come to school!” Mary Beth wrote. Her tweet soon zoomed over 2.7 million views and people everywhere had a very emotional reaction to the story and even shared stories of their own.
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This small act of acceptance means so much to people struggling to fit in to a new society. Mary Beth’s encouragement most likely meant the world to this mother, and it taught the kids a lot about adapting to a new country, learning languages, and most of all being inclusive to those who are new to the United States.
Watch the sweet video in the tweet below, and be sure to share.
Parent,”I would like to come read to the class, but I can’t read English.” Me, “well, please come read in your language.” Parent, “really? “ Me, “of course!” And,she did and it was amazing!!Thank you to this mom for reading to us!📚 You made your daughter proud! 😊 #cridgepride pic.twitter.com/ukyeah59lb
— Mrs. Ryan (@MrsRyan310) September 30, 2019