Lulu Buck, educational equity and family engagement coordinator at St. Vrain Valley, uses images of the sky to teach acceptance.
She self-published a story she used in her teacher training sessions, writing the children’s book ‘Sue’s Sky’ during the pandemic. The book, which is available in English and Spanish, is illustrated with photos of sky paintings by Chrys Zyx of Longmont.
“A lot of teachers have asked how to teach equity and inclusion without feeling like they have a curriculum,” she said. “That’s how this book was born. The most gratifying thing is that educators trust it in their classrooms.
The Colorado Department of Education has purchased copies for each attendee attending its fall health and wellness conference. Three school districts—Adams 12, Adams 14, and Greeley-Evans—purchased the book for classroom use. Buck was also granted an exception to St. Vrain Valley’s conflict of interest policy to allow him to promote the book to teachers in the district.
The book follows Sue as she asks her friends on the playground: “Isn’t the blue sky beautiful today?” To his surprise, each friend sees the sky in a different color, depending on his origins, and the pages show skies with additional colors.
“As we accept people for who they are, our world becomes much more colorful,” Buck said. “On the last page, all those colors of the sky are key to other ways of seeing the world.”
Buck worked as a teacher and administrator in St. Vrain Valley and a teacher in Loveland before taking a job with the Colorado Department of Education, where her role included working as a state trainer for responsiveness and equity. cultural. She returned to the Saint-Vrain valley about three years ago.
To accompany the book, she has created five free lesson plans that cover the topics of safe spaces, anti-bullying, bias, identity, and community.
For the lesson on bias, teachers ask their students to describe the personalities and clothing of each of the characters. The character who sees gray skies, for example, is often described by students as being sad and wearing a hoodie. Next, the teacher leads a discussion on how to make judgments.
“I really believe that if we can teach what bias is and help kids recognize bias at a younger age, we can create change,” she said.
Teachers are also encouraged to ask students to answer the question, “What do you want people to accept about you?” Then they paint their own sky to reflect their answers.
Although she wrote the book for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, she says, it has also been used in middle and high schools as a starting point for deeper discussions.
“It’s exploratory,” she said.
For more information about the book or lessons, email [email protected]