This school year, the Shaler Area School District is focusing on promoting respect within its schools. Shaler Area has invited students and community members to participate in the Respect for All campaign consisting of biweekly videos, challenges, quotes and information aimed at facilitating a consideration for others.
The campaign launched April 3. The following challenges remain:
May 1: Meet and talk with someone you don’t know. Get to know them and discover their interests.
SATV, Shaler Area’s TV station, will film a video with students answering, “How do you show respect to others?”
May 15: Volunteer to help someone. Youth volunteers succeed academically and develop social responsibility, according to the federal Corporation for National & Community Service.
May 29: Write a thank-you note to someone — a teacher, classmate, parent, etc.
SATV will film a video with students answering, “How do you show respect toward your school?”
Past challenges involved complimenting and thanking or demonstrating gratitude to others. Students explained what respect means to them in the SATV-produced video available here: https://youtu.be/23sh-IQOoFI.
Superintendent Sean Aiken said that the Respect for All initiative enhances the Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) program the district has implemented. According to the program’s website, the “underlying theme is teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject.”
The district invited students, parents, teachers, aides, principals and administrators to join a Respect for All campaign planning committee.
“Our goal was to bring a diverse group of stakeholders to the planning sessions, and we accomplished this with all of those groups being represented,” he said. “The Tree of Life tragedy further enforced the need for all of our students, staff, and community to cultivate a greater respect for one another, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.”
The group used human-centered design problem-solving strategies, creating “a level playing field, where everyone’s voice is heard and no one voice is greater than another,” Aiken said.
Shaler Area Middle School principal Eric Stennett invited Dawn Vaughn, middle school physical education department co-chairwoman, to join the committee. Vaughn said that she and Tracey Lafayette, fellow department co-chairwoman, taught their health students the importance “of possessing positive values and character traits.” This led to the development of school-wide respect projects.
Each school is implementing the campaign differently. On Burchfield Primary’s recent “Respect for Self Day,” students and staff dressed comfortably, and many staff forwent make-up, Vaughn said. Messages of encouragement decorated bathrooms. At the middle school, staff members are distributing raffle tickets for gift cards and other rewards to students demonstrating respectful behavior.
“We challenged all of our students to reach 1,000 acts of respect and have been keeping track of their tickets on a large thermometer in the main lobby. Students recently achieved this milestone and are being rewarded with a waffle breakfast,” Vaughn said.
“This campaign is so important because the mental health and well-being of our students is at the forefront of their education. Students who do not feel respected, liked or included are more likely to act out, earn lower grades and turn to substance abuse and other unhealthy coping strategies. Students who feel respected and cared for have higher self-esteem and self-worth and are more likely to do better in school,” she continued. “As both a teacher and a parent of students in the district, I want to make sure that all of Shaler’s students feel safe, respected and valued when they come to school each day.”