The Color of Friendship: Local Teacher and WIU Alumna Writes About Diversity
MACOMB, IL — Western Illinois University alumna and Macomb school teacher Adrienne Graham grew up playing school in Maywood, IL, and telling stories with her sister. Now, she’s a first-grade teacher in Macomb who recently published her own book, “The Color of Friendship,” focusing on children learning about diversity.
Graham, who graduated from Western in 2014, with a teacher education degree, and in 2018, with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, is in her seventh year of teaching for the Macomb School District. This past year, she decided it was time to tell her own story of growing up in an environment where she looked different from the majority.
“The Color of Friendship” tells the story of Violet Plum, a young girl who lives in the fictional town of Indigoville. Violet loves living in her small town. She especially loves the fact that everyone there is a beautiful shade of purple. One day, Violet’s mom gets a new job, and the two of them must move to a new town, Honeyview Hills. Violet is skeptical about the move, especially when she learns that everyone in Honeyveiw Hills is an interesting shade of … orange. Violet must adjust to her new town, as she learns an interesting lesson in the process.
“When I was 8 years old, my family and I moved from Maywood, IL, to Gary, IN. This was a big change for our family. Maywood is a predominantly African American suburb, whereas Gary was predominantly Caucasian, and slightly rural. I encountered the same experience when I moved from Broadview, IL, to Macomb,” Graham said.
Graham thought it was important to help children understand more about diversity within their communities and the good experiences that can come from being different.
“Since becoming a teacher, I knew I had to tell my story in a way that children could understand and relate,” said Graham. “I wanted children to know that just because you may move to a new area where no one looks quite like you, that doesn’t mean you can’t make that place your home or make great friends. I have made many great friends in Gary, and in Macomb.”
Graham’s time at Western influenced her, as well.
“My time at WIU was awesome,” said Graham. “My math professor, Bob Mann, was nice enough to offer me the opportunity to work as a tutor in the math department, and I was able to meet so many awesome people because of it.”
Graham was able to do her master’s degree completely online, which helped her be able to maintain her teaching schedule.
“I also had my daughter two months before graduation, so working from home was nice,” Graham said.
For more information about Western’s Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, visit wiu.edu/academics/majors/education_and_human_services/elementary-education.php. For more information on Western’s curriculum and instruction graduate program, visit wiu.edu/graduate_studies/programs_of_study/eled_profile.php.