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‘Welcoming Schools’ Celebrates Inclusion

In partnership with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program, Main Street School continues to foster a welcoming school climate that celebrates the inclusion of all students.

Since the beginning of the school year, thanks to the generous support of the PTSA and with the support of social worker Gina Menendez, school counselor Alissa Kane and school psychologist Meg Granfors, teachers have been providing direct-instruction lessons and incorporating key concepts and vocabulary into their lessons.

“We continue to select picture books with intersectionality in mind, across the year sharing books with characters that connect to our ‘many identities,’” Principal Joyce Chapnick said.

Most recently, the students read bell hooks’ book “Skin Again,” which offers a new way to talk about race and identity and celebrates what makes each person unique and different. They also read R.J. Palacio’s “We Are All Wonders” and engaged in meaningful conversations around kindness and empathy for all, as well as appreciating differences and acknowledging stereotypes. As part of the “Making Decisions: Ally or Bystander” lesson, the students read Jennifer Elvgren’s “The Whispering Town” book, which is based on a true story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden.

According to its website, Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is a professional development program providing training and resources to elementary school educators to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying, and support transgender and nonbinary students.

To further support its work, Main Street School held an informational and learning session for parents on Feb. 4. In addition, the entire staff will be trained on a second module, Bias-Based Bullying, during the Superintendent’s Conference Day in March.