Dear Parents and Guardians,
I wanted to share some important work our students will be engaging in as a part of our advisory program in the coming months. Feedback from our 2015 Safe School Climate survey solicited the perceptions of safety in social-emotional terms among students, which included their experiences regarding verbal abuse, harassment, and exclusion. While 82% of our student survey-takers responded within the neutral or positive range, 17% indicated negative experiences. Using this information, one of the goals in our student improvement plan focuses on the following, “To increase a sense of social, emotional, and physical safety and well-being within the school community.”
In the weeks ahead, we are planning to work with students across grade levels and have courageous conversations around harassment and exclusion, as well as to emulate actions that promote diversity, tolerance, and inclusion. Although the news and social media continue to highlight negative school incidents, the reality is that the majority of our students, teachers, and administrators witness acts of kindness and “stand up” behaviors on a daily basis. We need to expose and celebrate students in our Unified Sports, Unified Theater, GSA, Student Government, and all of the clubs and sports groups who support their peers and the community.
However, more needs to be done. Lessons at the high school level around social and emotional learning (SEL) are critical, as research indicates these are directly linked to students’ success in school. The following are ongoing actions we continue to employ as part of our school improvement plan:
- Use of advisory program to develop strategies for improving diversity, tolerance, and inclusion
- Student-generated activities that embrace social and cultural differences and build community
- Freshman evening forum that focuses on making positive decisions
- Clarification of school expectations through advisory, discipline policies, as well as student and parent meetings
- Lessons both in and outside the classroom that promote diversity, civic responsibility, and empathy
Staff, parents and community members play an equally important role in setting high expectations in these areas. Unfortunately, social media often encourages inaccurate information about school incidents and follow up. Please continue to rely on school administrators to receive information or to ask questions. Our most important objective is to establish a strong and unified school-to-home partnership in the best interest of our students.
Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue