Using a Culture Fair to Engage Teachers, Students, Parents, and Community Members

Stacy Gunnip presenting at the 2016 WGCSD Strategic Planning Meeting

We interviewed Stacy Gunnip, ENL teacher at West Genesee Central School District, who explains how her district utilizes positive school-community partnerships to engage all families.

  1. Please give me a short biography of your education and experience.
    I have been teaching for nineteen years, and I currently teach ENL at the high school and middle school level. I majored in History and Ethnic Studies with a Spanish minor from California State University, Bakersfield. My ENL teaching career began in Los Angeles, California where I worked with bilingual students and received my TESOL certification from Chapman University in Orange, California. I have taught K-12 Special Education, ENL and General Education. My Master’s Degree is in Special Education. In 2006, I relocated with my family to Cato, NY and began as an ESL teacher at WGCSD in 2007.

  1. Your district’s Culture Fair is always well attended. What made you decide to offer this great event every year?
    Our district’s ‘Culture Fair’ is an impressive event. It’s designed to help promote understanding of the various social, ethnic, and cultural influences in our community and beyond! It is organized by our entire school district and a lot of hard work is put into it to make it so memorable. Many different cultures, customs, languages and cuisines are represented there. I believe
    that this event increases cultural responsiveness for content area teachers, staff, students and our community members in general.

Getting Ready for the 2016 Culture Fair at WGHS. Photo by Pat Marzola
  1. What are some things included at the Culture Fair?
    The Culture Fair is a fantastic family event that is free and open to the public.  It includes a variety of cultural and ethnic displays, posters and maps. Artifacts with presentations were available along with live dancing, music, food tasting, kids’ arts and crafts, and t-shirts.  Thankfully, we have sponsors such as our local TOPS, Camillus Police Benevolent Association, and the West Genesee District PTA/PTO/PTSO Council. To highlight many of the exciting activities, we created a colorful video of last year’s event which can be found here:
  1. What roles do the teachers and students have in creating the Culture Fair? Is there any follow-up discussion in the classrooms afterwards?
    A variety of staff members and students participate in the Culture Fair. For example, a member of our food service staff is fluent in Ukrainian, and she works with our Ukrainian students to greet and serve at our Ukrainian booth each year. The students create posters, maps, a booklet of Ukrainian customs, examples of Ukrainian crafts, such as decorated eggs, and delicious food to sample. Since it is such a fun event, the students and teachers naturally want to talk about what they learned at the Culture Fair in their classes. It presents a great learning opportunity for everyone involved!

Garafalo_Diane_150pxDiane Garafalo is an ENL Consultant on special assignment with Mid-State RBERN through DSF Consulting.

If you are interested in sharing some of your experiences on the Mid-State RBERN blog, please contact Sara Peters at

One thought on “Using a Culture Fair to Engage Teachers, Students, Parents, and Community Members

  1. Wow! Sounds like a great event. Thank you, Stacy Gunnip and the others, for all of your hard work. We know the students and the community benefit from such caring folks. Glad so much is being done to bridge the gap.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s