Regional Multicultural Magnet School (RMMS) is not your typical elementary school.
The school, which is home to about 540 students from about 20 different towns in southeastern Connecticut, is the first elementary magnet school to be formed in the United States that is an inter-district magnet school.
In 2015, RMMS applied and was accepted as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program candidate school. IB is an international non-profit that has nearly 6000 globally recognized educational programs that focus on inquiry and issues of local and global importance.
For teachers Amy Rios and Lynne Ramage of RMMS, educating their students on the issues of today helps better prepare them to be leaders in the future.
“Going through [the process of becoming an IB] for the past couple years is what really got us to re-look at our curriculum and come up with more up to date topics,” Rios said. “Our third grade does a media unit which is about a six-week unit and they look at how people are portrayed in media, men vs. women, is one of their main focuses.”
By looking at the differences of how men and women are portrayed, the third grade class at RMMS was thrust into deep conversations about how certain stereotypes are present in different media and advertisement forms.
“As part of that unit, one of the things that the kids did is they looked at portrayals of females vs males in advertising, in video, movies, there were some kids who noticed differences in video games,” Ramage said. “They talked about how they both how they represent stereotypes but also how they break stereotypes with who they are as a person already. They also talked about how those stereotypes can be limiting especially if you are not aware of them.”
One of the activities that the students did was analyze a video clip or an advertisement and examined how they could change the piece of media to avoid stereotypes that may be limiting to certain people.
“They either drew it out or they did video recordings about it,” Ramage said. “They made their own new version of it. They read a variety of texts which examined what are these portrayals.”
The students have also gotten to hear firsthand, from players on the Connecticut Sun, of some of the differences between the WNBA and NBA . “So basically, is there equal opportunity to be on a [WNBA] team as there is to be on a [NBA] team?”
The new curriculum at RMMS has not only opened up avenues for students to think about real issues at a young age, but has also been an enjoyable learning experience.
“I think the students not only enjoy it, but I think we really encourage them to take action based on what they’ve been learning,” Rios said. “We talk about as a school a lot, how can you do something small that is eventually going to have a bigger impact.”
As the school has students from numerous towns, diversity is very important to the RMMS community.
“We try to make [diversity] important to who we are,” Ramage said. “For example, we have two photo exhibits in our school right now. The first year the photo exhibit was about the diverse families that are a part of our community. [The photos] are up in our lobby so as you walk in you can see these gorgeous photos of diverse families and then there was a description about the family.”
This year, the photo exhibit features individual children from the school. Ramage said that the descriptions now include what qualities they exhibit as a person and how they can be a person who can make the world a better place.
“This diversity is powerful and we are proud of who are because of that diversity and it makes us a better community,” Ramage said.
A student’s journey at RMMS not only includes a unique experience learning, but a reflective aspect as well. In their mission to empower students to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners, each student is given the opportunity to make a speech in front of the entire school about how RMMS has changed them and some action they want to take based on what they have learned there.
“As an IB school, part of what unifies all IB schools together is that we can create young people who can then go out and make the world a better and more peaceful place,” Ramage said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, you can make contributions in some way.
“I think with our units that we are creating for kids, there are opportunities for kids of any age to help make the world a better place. Which is totally what ‘Burn It Down’ is talking about as well.”