Amidst a brutal Midwest winter, teachers from around the Kansas City area gathered in late January to meet for the first time and participate in the first of two professional development workshops required of the KC Kids Unite program. The objectives for this day included establishing goals for ourselves and our students, planning for the initial launching in classrooms, thinking globally about community, and locally about the racist real estate practices that dominated the housing in market from the 1950s through the 1970s, creating the Troost Wall and dividing Kansas City’s communities into present day.
Teachers considered community from the perspective of city, school and classroom. They thought about how they would describe each of those communities and what factors existed that made them feel a part of something bigger that themselves. We then read “Building the Troost Wall” in Kevin Gotham’s book, Race, Real Estate and Uneven Development. This chapter outlines, in detail, the inner workings of the Kansas City Missouri School District in conjunction with the discriminatory real estate practices of J.C. Nichols, developer of the Mission Hills subdivision and Country Club Plaza, who embedded racial covenants within the deeds of his properties, ensuring no blacks owned or resided in them. We discussed the reading using the protocol, What?, So What?, Now What? to share what information was new or relevant in our work today, why its implications are still impacting the residents of Kansas City and what action looks like to start addressing some of these issues.
Our day concluded with teaching partnerships getting time to work on an instructional plan for Week 1 of the curriculum, where students conduct family history to learn more about their ancestry and ethnicity. They watch the video, The DNA Journey to launch their research and teachers use an enlarged map to mark the different countries representative of each of our students.
An added feature to enhance the experience of our students and provide an additional outlet to connect is our very own KC Kids Unite podcast! Hosted by Anchor, this podcast will serve to share our mission and the stories of participating students from various angles. Stay tuned–the opening episodes are being recorded as we speak! Tune in by downloading the Anchor app on your phone and searching KC Kids Unite or head over to the following URL: www.anchor.fm/kckidsunite.