Multicultural literature class offers fresh world views


Little’s multicultural class on their field-trip. This class has helped broaden students’ worldviews and created a strong community.

Room 101 seems to be an innocuous classroom on the outside; it’s just the usual wooden door with a few nametags taped on it.

However, inside lies a world beyond Northwest–beyond this country. European paintings hang on the wall; non-Western literature decorates the shelves. It’s an immersive cultural experience.

Within this classroom, a multicultural literature elective–originally named humanities– is taught by English teacher Sherilyn Little during first period.

“Many years ago, the principal thought it would be a good idea to teach a class that would incorporate subject matter that is lost everywhere else,” Little said. “In here we do Dante, art appreciation and (read) some of the great novels from all different worlds–not just American or English literature.”

Due to the lack of a set curriculum, there’s a lot more flexibility in class material.

“We’re not teaching for a test,” Little said. “There’s such a wealth of material; it’s a treasure trove of possibility for whatever we want to do as a class.”

I love my students so much, and you don’t want things to end when they are so good. I just hope it’s as great of an experience for them as it is for me.”

— English teacher Sherilyn Little

While usually the students read novels and discuss them creatively, there are occasional art projects to espouse art appreciation and field trips to broaden the students’ purview.

“I took my class to Biltmore,” Little said. “It was an unforgettable trip; several of my students said it’s the best trip they’ve ever had in their life. We went to Grove Park, the five-star Resort and Spa, a fancy Japanese restaurant, Christmas candlelight, downtown Nashville and Chimney Rock–which was gorgeous (due to the changing) leaves. (There was also) a scavenger hunt and a rooftop tour.”

The reach of the class extends beyond Little’s students; Grimsley even modeled a humanities class based on her class. Little says that it’s a highly beneficial class to have offered at schools.

“The only thing that’s frustrating is that it doesn’t last all day,” Little said.

Her students mirror her frustrations about the time limit.

“My least favorite aspect is that I can’t stay in that class all day,” senior James Greene said. “Ms. Little is such an amazing teacher and has had a huge impact on my life. (I love) being in a class where (we are all) so comfortable around each other; we can share ideas and have a bond I’ve never had in another class.”

The community created in room 101 helped some students find their place at Northwest.

“I transferred, and this class has made my transition to Northwest very easy,” sophomore Sera Cohen said. “It’s something I look forward to every day; it offers a unique experience, and we learn things that prepare us for life in the real world.”

Beyond creating an enriching experience for students, the bond created between teacher and students creates a safe bubble within the hectic AP culture prevalent at Northwest.

“Little is truly one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” Greene said. “The experiences she’s given me with our class trips (are amazing). You can really see she cares so deeply for her students.”

The multicultural class offers more than just community and teaching worldly ideas–it also helps embolden students and bring forth growth and maturity.

“The impact it’s had on me is to not be afraid to share my opinion and open my mind to more in-depth issues we read about (there),” Greene said. “I’m beginning to think differently and deeper.”

It was made for the idea of learning for the sake of learning.

“I want for all of my students to learn about the stuff that matters,” Little said. “I want them to appreciate each day. I want them to search for the truth, and to be happy and successful.  I love my students so much, and you don’t want things to end when they are so good. I just hope it’s as great of an experience for them as it is for me.”