The Skin on My Chin and other books By Michelle Chalmers
This September, look for the new children’s book titled, “The Story of METCO” written by Michelle Chalmers, President of the World of Wellesley. This is the second children’s book self-published, by Michelle. Her first book, “The Skin on My Chin” is included as part of the Wellesley Public School’s Kindergarten curriculum and was written as a tool for teachers and parents to engage in conversations about skin color, melanin, ancestry, diversity, race, stereotypes and prejudice. Michelle decided to write, “The Story of METCO” from the perspective of a teacher having a conversation with her students about the METCO program. “It seemed to me that many children and families didn’t know what the METCO program was. I asked my own children if they remembered ever being told about the program and they said no.” Michelle explained. The story takes children though a conversation about the history and importance of the METCO program, now one of the largest continually running voluntary desegregation programs in the nation. The story intends to help children to understand the true meaning of the program from all aspects of the community and people involved. The book reads; I believe, the more experiences and friendships we have, with people from different communities, races, religions, cultures and ethnicities, we can learn and understand more, and live richer lives. The book has many forms of illustrations from comics, to historic photographs and pictures of students from METCO school communities, including Wellesley. Michelle plans to send a copy of the book to all 38 METCO Massachusetts community school districts and hopes the conversation will continue about the importance and benefits of the program, for everyone. Next year, Wellesley will celebrate its 50th anniversary of being one of the first METCO communities and the World of Wellesley will be there to celebrate. The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) is a state funded voluntary desegregation program. The three primary goals of the program are: to provide new and diverse learning experiences for suburban children, to provide greater understanding and cooperation between urban and suburban communities, and to provide an opportunity for quality integrated public school education for urban children from racially imbalanced schools in Boston and Springfield. In 1967 Samuel Graves, principal of Wellesley High School, welcomed 16 METCO students (7 juniors and 9 sophomores) to the community. Wellesley was one of the original seven suburban communities to participate. This year the METCO program has 158 students enrolled in K-12 and fourteen seniors scheduled to graduate. Last year eleven seniors graduated attending UMass Boston, University of Hartford, American University, La Salle University, UMass Dartmouth, and Mount Ida College.
This book is dedicated to the many wonderful children and families who understand the importance of a good education and stood against systemic racism in the educational system and pushed for a better life for their children.
The Story of METCO is an important story to tell all children. It is a story of our past, present and future. One that celebrates human diversity and the importance of friendship, equality, equity, and education.
for Educational Opportunity
Great News! Michelle released her second children's book!