Byrne Creek Secondary School, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, is the 2012 winner of ASCD’s Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. At ASCD’s Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Principal David Rawnsley accepted the award on behalf of the Byrne Creek community, and shared a student-written poem that represents the rich diversity that is so valued at the school. Here is the “I Am From” poem, in its entirety.
I am from Iran, a country with scorching hot deserts, a rich history, colourful gardens, of roses covered with unforgiving thorns.
I am from the Pearl of the Orient Seas, where the Sun rises from the west, vanishes before the clock strikes—to thick puffs of gray.
I am from Kinshasa: big city, large population, huge family.
I am simply from a quiet neighbourhood nearby.
I am from Shanghai, China, where my precious childhood memories remain.
I am from Burnaby, BC, with its temperamental weather and slush: urban centre, heritage site, earth covered in pavement and green trees.
I am from the memory of coming to Canada, and never forgetting the turning of a page to a brand new life.
I am from biology and art teachers, blood and paint, organs and brushes.
I am from my French teacher, who taught me to speak to the world in a different tongue, and my Social Studies teacher, who taught me to see the world through a different lens.
I am from my math teacher, who lets me know that caring is more important than numbers.
I am from a variety of business classes, tough lessons about the real world, but made manageable with care.
I am from my English teacher, who makes me a better writer and a better human.
I am from Mr. Davies, a teacher who passes on knowledge with great passion.
I am from Ms. Moxon, who says “Fake it ’til you make it.”
I am from Ms. Tirling, who brought dance and happiness into my life.
I am from Ms. Hodgson, Mr. Best, Mr. Leung, and Ms. O’Hare.
I am from every teacher who gave me a fact, a thing, an idea, an emotion, a lesson, who gave me value.
I am from “let’s get started” at the beginning of all things new.
I am from dancing and drawing, sound and silence, swishing feet and pencils.
I am from the unnoticed coloured banners, the bars of safety, where I see countless new faces daily.
I am from words shouted out in excitement, in a language that can only be understood by us.
I am from competing in track, winning districts in basketball, losing that one soccer game; even there, I felt accomplished and proud.
I am from stay focused, explode from the start, and it’s important to learn from our mistakes.
I am from green garbage bins, a greener earth, a brighter future.
I am from the silent books that speak of experience and memory.
I am from the bolted red and blue squares, the zoo of a hall, the noise of the Atrium, and the spinning seats of the white room.
I am from the pictures taken in and out of these halls, the howls of laughter, and from the last note of the melody they call Grade 12.
I am a part of an ongoing journey.
I am from shaping my future, one step at a time.
I am from the ‘we,’ eager to learn.
I am from friendship, solidarity, and intelligence.
I am from a second home, where I can put talent and passion into my work.
I am from thankfulness, a place that tells me I have someone on my side, always.
I am from a stepping stone, where they tell me I can do anything.
I am from learning about life, society, opportunity, hope, the values that cannot be taught in a classroom, but are.
I am from Byrne Creek.
Reprinted with permission.