Ahmet Temel is the principal of Tallahassee School of Math and Science and he wants to learn to play the guitar.
Not quite middle aged, he laments not having access to the instrument in his youth. “Why have 43 years passed and I’ve missed it? Because I wasn’t exposed. If I’m not exposed, how would I know? We’re trying to do that here at TSMS. Yes, we’re a math and science school but we’re trying to create exposure to as much as we can.”
Temel is of Kurdish descent and grew up in Turkey. He’s lived in England and the United States and has felt accepted in all the places he’s called home but he’s aware that’s not everyone’s reality. He and his colleagues have created a welcoming school atmosphere and an annual International Night celebration for students and their families.
“We are one of the most diverse schools in this town,” Temel said. “We have people from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America, and Canada. We have students who are French and German whose parents are here as visiting scholars. We want to showcase that and bring all the kids and parents together. It’s a great way to get to know one another.”
International Night is an opportunity for students to highlight their heritage.
Through food, art and song, families share their traditions with one another. From belly dancing to the display of American Indian artifacts, the celebration boasts a wide variety of cultural experiences. Students performed Mexican music, African dance and demonstrated capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that draws on elements of dance, acrobatics and music.
Growing up in Turkey, where East meets West, Temel experienced a great deal of ethnic diversity. As a result, he speaks Kurdish, Turkish, English and little bit of German. His multilingualism gives him additional insight into his students who are speakers of languages other than English.
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