Wauwatosa’s “Passport to Fun Night”

WAUWATOSA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Eisenhower School’s Passport to Fun Night

Award of Excellence
WSPRA Cultural Diversity Communication Program

This program was a 2004 Spectrum Award-winning Cultural Diversity Program. For further details about the program contact, Mary Pat Pfeil, former Director of Community Relations for the Wauwatosa School District,  marypat.pfeil@marquette.edu

The demographics of Eisenhower School include a minority population of approximately 35 percent and a non-resident population of 21 percent. During our application process for our National PTA School of Excellence Award in the 2002-2003 school year, the Eisenhower Advisory Council identified the involvement of our non-resident families as an area in which we might improve. As a result of this reflection, the 2003-2004 school year focused on the celebration of the diversity of our families at Eisenhower School through an Olympic theme. The idea for a cultural celebration was then shared with our PTA, who actively recruited families from our school to share the arts, crafts, dance, language, and traditions of their culture with other families in an evening event. The turnout was amazing.

Our goal was to increase the involvement of our non-resident Eisenhower families by creating an evironment for them to share their own cultures and traditions with our families in whatever way they felt comfortable. Classroom teachers and specialists were asked to display any artwork from the students that may have an international flair.

A survey was sent out to families asking how they might like to contribute to an evening of fun by sharing their heritage at school. Families were asked to contribute food, story/dance/song, or an activity. Posters advertised the event at the school entrances, and the monthly school newsletter included information about how to get involved and what the evening would entail. Special invitations were sent to the families of 3-year-olds in our neighborhood to give them an opportunity to come in to the school and see what we have to offer.

More than two thirds of our student population attended the Passport to Fun Night. The attendance at this event surpassed the attendance of our 35th Anniversary celebration. The event well-exceeded our normal PTA attendance. Twenty rented flags that hung in the entryway to the school representing nations of our Eisenhower famlies were so well-received that the Boy Scouts donated 18 flags as permanent fixtures for our hallways. The flags were selected by our ESL teacher to represent the countries and languages represented in our school. In addition, a teacher chose to have her retirement gift from the PTA include three flags for our school to support the celebration of our diversity.

Teachers reported an increased dialog among students relating to their appreciation of the talents shared during our evening activity. PTA reported many unprompted thank you notes from students and parents appreciative of their learning experience that evening.

The night was so successful, the PTA is planning on repeating the event. Revisions being considered include gathering information from our Hmong population regarding their native dance and/or traditions in a public vs. private setting. Teachers will actively be involved in making contributions to the celebration by connecting their grade-level curriculum to the international theme.

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG