Fresh Meadows Conclusion

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It’s difficult to propose what changes should be made to schools in Fresh Meadows when they are among the top-performing schools in the city. Academically, the schools seem sound and in need of few changes. However, these schools can and should make use of their diversity in various positive ways. While some of these schools are already engaging in some of the recommendations listed below, elementary schools in particular need to do more to make use of their diversity and help recent immigrants.

Recommendations: In the Classroom

Encourage students to take non-traditional foreign languages
Encourage students to take non-traditional foreign languages[1]
  • As Principal Musa Ali Shama is already doing at Francis Lewis, encourage students and teachers to provide their own personal insight about their ethnicity when appropriate. Obviously this situation would not arise in a math class, but in an English or Social Studies class, these insights could greatly enhance education.
  • At Francis Lewis High School, encourage students to take non-traditional foreign languages. Despite more than ten language offerings, the most classes can be found in Spanish and Latin. Most of those taking Chinese are Chinese, most taking Hebrew are Jewish. By encouraging students to step out of their comfort level in foreign language, more tolerance can be developed.
  • Begin teaching about diversity in elementary school. Rather than teaching about a few select minorities such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, include other more contemporary figures in education. When teaching about Jackie Robinson, also teach about Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic in baseball, and Masanori Murakami, the first Asian player in baseball.
  • Provide adequate training to teachers about how to deal with recent immigrants in the classroom. All too often teachers choose to teach to the average rather than the lowest common denominator. With a child struggling with a new language in the class, things are even tougher on a teacher. With the current economic crisis, it is inevitable that certain programs and classes will be cut, causing less proficient speakers to be forced into mainstream classes. Teachers need to be trained how to properly adjust to this.
  • Begin reinforcing notions of tolerance at the youngest age possible. If a current events story occurs which deals with racial or ethnic tension, use it as a medium to instill tolerance in the children to help further cultural pluralism and the benefits of diversity.

Recommendations: Outside the Classroom

Performers at Francis Lewis High School's 2009 International Festival
Performers at Francis Lewis High School's 2009 International Festival[2]
  • Encourage children to learn about each other’s ethnicities through fun activities. Have International Food Festivals, International Show and Tell, and encourage students to be proud of their heritage
  • Do more for recent immigrants to help them in social interactions. Besides efforts to help them within the classroom, schools should teach them how to properly act around already “assimilated” children to prevent them from becoming social outcasts.
  • Be sure that students realize that ethnic clubs are not only for those from the ethnic group. For example, non-Hispanics can join the Hispanic Club, non-Christians can join the Christian Club. By encouraging this intermixing, schools will make students experience diversity to the fullest extent possible--outsiders learn about a new culture and insiders learn an outsider's opinions. If these clubs do not yet exist on a middle school level, create them. In elementary schools, consider creating one blanket “Multicultural Club.”
Performers at Francis Lewis High School's 2009 International Festival
Performers at Francis Lewis High School's 2009 International Festival[3]
  • Allow ethnicity/religion-based student clubs to put on assemblies for the entire student body. Francis Lewis High School has been extremely effective at doing this: Israeli Friendship Caravan performers visited the school, the Punjabi Club puts on annual dance performances, and in 2009 the school began a large annual International Festival. Elementary/Junior High Schools should begin doing this as well.
  • Set up Big Brother/Big Sister programs, pairing up an “Americanized” student with a recent immigrant. Ideally, the Big Brother/Sister would help teach the immigrant the ways of America and allow the immigrant to feel incorporated into society. This will also potentially help lessen tensions between recent immigrant groups and mainstream groups.


  1. "THW Modern Foreign Languages Department Home." 25 Apr. 2009 <>.
  2. Suley, Alex. "Facebook - International Festival 2009." 25 Apr. 2009 <>.
  3. Suley, Alex. "Facebook - International Festival 2009." 25 Apr. 2009 <>.
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