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world-map-made-up-of-peopleAt the beginning of each school year, the Wilmington Montessori School staff has the opportunity to spend one day together. We are not setting up classrooms, ordering supplies or making name tags for the students who will soon appear. Instead, we are nurturing our community and sharing common experiences. This year, we spent part of that day learning more about cultural awareness and our sensitivity to those from cultures different from our own. It was nothing short of enlightening.

Before we arrived, we were asked to watch this TED Talk by Martellus Bennett of the Chicago Bears. Since football season began last week, it seemed a great time to share it.

Most of us would assume that being a professional athlete defines Bennett. After all, doesn’t the fact that there are millions of viewers glued to their televisions during football season prove that it is the pinnacle of success? People see him as the superstar he is. That’s that. However, he is that and so much more. Along with being a gifted athlete, Bennett is also an artist, animator, author, producer, composer and CEO of Imagination Agency.

When we approach a person or an experience, we make assumptions based on our background and experiences. We deem ourselves to be open-minded and accepting of others. Are we really? Could we do better? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Our school does not reflect the culture of each person who enters it, but we can learn about others’ cultures and experiences. We are more than the sum of our parts, but each part of us matters. As a Montessori school, we strive to introduce the world to our students. The basis of Maria Montessori’s Cultural Curriculum is to help children understand we all come from the same beginnings, even though we have had varied paths to this moment in time. We are each more than the single trait or talent by which we are most easily identified, just as Martellus Bennett is more than an athlete.