Beaverton Baha’i family share cookies and faith with elementary school staff

9-pointed star cookies

The Kelly family made 9-pointed star cookies to share with the staff at their daughters' elementary school. Nine is a symbol of unity in the Baha'i Faith.

By Kay Kelly

At a recent PTO meeting for Erroll Hassell Elementary School, our principal, Dr. Clemens-Brower, began explaining about the upcoming Cultural Week at the school. The children would be learning about different cultures in various ways throughout the week, including a family night of numerous cultures experienced through art and music. She also mentioned she was looking for families to come and share their culture or religion with the teachers at the upcoming Staff Development day.

I emailed the principal, explaining that we are Baha’is and we would be happy to share about our faith. A few days later, we received an invitation to join them on Friday, November 12th, which was a pleasant surprise as it was also a Holy Day for us, the Birth of Baha’u’llah! The invitation set the tone for the day:

“Margaret Wheatley, author of Turning to One Another, writes about changing the world by the simple act of listening to one another. She believes that great social change movements always begin from the simple act of friends talking to each other about their fears and dreams… I’m inviting several parents (YOU) in to be our guest speakers for the event. I’m hoping that our guests will talk about their own elementary school experiences first then about hopes and dreams for their children.”

Our family consulted together and with other Baha’is about what would be important to share about the Baha’i Faith. The night before, we made 9-pointed star cookies and then woke up early the next morning to pray before going to the school. We chatted with a few families and teachers until the principal welcomed us and explained the morning’s purpose and format.

We had five minutes to share our religion with several small groups of teachers. Pete described his elementary years at a Catholic Montessori School in Connecticut and the diversity of the families who attended. As he transitioned into public elementary, that diversity was lacking as well as the spiritual education. We mentioned how we found the Baha’i Faith while looking for a diverse and spiritually-supportive community in which to raise our children. Next, we mentioned it was a Holy Day for us and Madeleine, our 4th grader, then explained our calendar with the aid of a calendar we found online (http://www.bahai.us/bahai-calendar). Next, I mentioned a few principles of the Baha’i Faith and the importance of the spiritual education of children. Then, Kassie, our 2nd grader, talked about her neighborhood children’s class and some of her favorite virtues. Then we opened it up to questions. The school staff asked great questions. One mentioned they had a previous Baha’i student, and several asked about the Beaverton Baha’i Center.

This experience was definitely a bonding experience for our family and with the staff at our school. It was also a wonderful opportunity to be invited into a public school setting to talk about our religion and feel so welcomed. We thanked the principal for the environment she was creating, not only to learn about other cultures but also to appreciate the cultural diversity that surrounds us in our community.

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