As public school districts across New Jersey observed the Week of Respect from Oct. 7-11, students and staff in the Westfield Public Schools participated in many lessons and activities emphasizing the meaning of respect and the different ways people show it.
“Respect is something we practice daily in Westfield Public Schools,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “So we call this week the ‘Week of Extra Respect.’”
Whether passing a ball along with a kind word during the “Compliment Game” in a preschool class or creating graphic designs to promote tolerance in a Comparative Religions course at Westfield High School, the focus was on kindness, empathy, responsibility, fairness and other demonstrations of good character.
McKinley School librarian/media specialist Stacey Derector teamed up with school counselor Marybeth Herits to read “Strictly No Elephants,” a fictional story of inclusion by Lisa Mantchev, before encouraging students to move around the tables, reading pre-written scenarios to decide whether they were respectful or not during an exercise called the “Respect Scoot Game.”
At Wilson School, principal Joseph Malanga and school counselor Frank Uveges reviewed the school’s Code of Conduct and treated first graders to a reading of “One,” a picture book by Kathryn Otoshi that uses colors and numbers to tackle the issue of bullying. And the focus was on kindness through reading, art, and music lessons at Washington School that included the catchy tune “Kindness is a Muscle.”
Tamaques School hosted “Dr. Recess” who demonstrated cooperative games to foster inclusion, safety and fair play, while Franklin held its annual Character Education assembly, donning colorful shirts based on the Six Pillars of Character, singing the “Character Tango” and reviewing “The Seven Habits of Happy Kids” by Sean Covey.
There were themed clothing days across the district, including mismatched clothing at Jefferson School to reinforce respect for differences. Morning announcements at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools had students reflecting on what respect and good character mean to them while both schools focused on self-awareness, relationship skills and other aspects of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). In classrooms at Westfield High School, lessons reinforced understanding and respecting cultural differences, examining global perspectives, sportsmanship and respectful play in physical education, and other reflections on the meaning of respect.
“These are just a few of the many activities taking place across the district during the Week of ‘Extra’ Respect,” adds Dolan. “I am thankful that we have so many caring teachers, administrators, and other staff who model respectful behavior every day and who are committed to providing for both the academic and emotional well-being of their students.”