The following article was contributed by the Wilton Special Education PTA (SEPTA).
Each spring the Wilton Special Education PTA, (Wilton SEPTA) sponsors Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month during the month of April throughout the Wilton Public School district to help encourage a culture of kindness, compassion and inclusion.
As we celebrate Diversity and Inclusion Awareness this spring, we also celebrate the resilience of our school community throughout this past year!
Bee Kind at Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill Schools
At Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill Schools students showed their support for kindness and inclusion by dressing up like bees for “Bee Kind” day on Thursday, April 1. Parents submitted photos of their children along with their child’s thoughts about what kindness means to them. This year there were over 30 photo submissions across both Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill Schools. We were both encouraged and inspired by the kindness of our young learners! We randomly selected one student from each of the grades to share with our school community here.
This year many of their costumes included “Bee Kind” masks which Wilton SEPTA sponsored as part of its annual fundraiser. All proceeds will go directly towards supporting students, staff and families throughout our school community, including teachers’ gifts and grants program, enrichment programming to support student social and emotional wellness and parent education.
Thank you to all of the students that participated and showed their spirit for compassion, kindness and inclusion!
Here are the BEE Kind Random drawing selections from each grade and school!
Preschool: Penelope Munoz
Teacher: Ms. Dawn
“Buzz around and take turns”
Kindergarten: Maggie Soudagar
“Kids should be like bees and work together! I’m sure bees are all a little different, but they help each other and do their best and then get to enjoy all of the honey that they made!”
First grade: Amy McCabe
Teacher: Mrs. Hussey
“Being kind means you help people. Like if someone was carrying a big pile of books and they dropped them, you would help them pick them up.”
Second Grade: Daniela Estes (pictured in main image, top)
Teacher: Mr. Scholz
“To be kind means to help people and be by their side. If people are lonely, include them. Talk to them, make them laugh, try to brighten their day. If their feelings are hurt, try to help. Try your best to make friends. If you do all of these things, you make others feel happy and that makes you feel happy.”
Third grade: Yustyna Filinskyy
Teacher: Mrs Ringelheim
“Be kind is always to be respectful to others, treat people as you like to be treated by them.”
Fifth grade: Adam Mims
Teacher: Mrs. Rome
“Being kind is including EVERYONE”
Middlebrook Middle School
Just up the road at Middlebrook Middle School, the PTA joined in to support Diversity and Inclusion with its “Lockers for Love” campaign! Colorful hearts with inspirational sayings adorned the school lockers throughout the building.
As students walked through the hallways they were greeted by these hearts of inspiration that included sayings like: “You are Kind,” “You are Brave,” “You are Loved,” and “You are Beautiful.”
Olga Traub, a parent at Middlebrook, reached out with this idea. Her former school district had done a “Lockers for Love” event and she remembered what a positive impact it had on the students.
“We started Lockers of Love with the hope that all students will know that they matter, that they are loved, and that each person’s uniqueness should be embraced,” Traub explained. “We also hope that if even one child felt comforted and supported when they came to school or signed on remotely that date that Lockers of Love accomplished our goal to make a positive impact on the mental health of our youth.”
Additionally, hearts were delivered to each mailbox of all of the Middlebrook students who were at home for remote learning. Parents of remote learners were particularly appreciative as one parent said, “I saw the post on the Middlebrook Facebook group about the PTA sponsored ‘Lockers for Love.’ As I continued reading, I saw that fully remote students were also included and had their heart messages hand-delivered to our homes, I was eager to tell my children who have been remote the entire year to go and check the mailbox. My 6th grader came inside and said, ‘Wow! That was so nice that someone went out of their way to deliver these to us.'”
Wilton High School
At Wilton High School, the Support Services Team led the “Spread the Word to End the Word” Campaign. This is a global campaign working towards inclusion for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Spread the Word campaign was built on the idea that inclusion is a skill each of us can learn and practice, together, and that inclusion is a skill that builds togetherness through difference and community through adversity.
Each year a total of 6,000 schools in over 80 countries participate in this campaign. To date, over 800,000 online pledges have been made. This spring SEPTA sponsored the “Spread the Word to End the Word” T-shirts for staff and students at Wilton High School. More information about this campaign and how to get involved can be found online.
Wilton High School special education teacher Emily Rippel described the events at WHS:
“The Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign is something that I hold very dear to my heart. It is a reminder that we should include people of all abilities in all aspects of life, whether it be in a social setting, a classroom, or anywhere decisions are being made.
“This year, our main goal is to #SpreadTheWordInclusion across the building. For Disability Awareness Month students and staff are wearing Spread The Word Inclusion t-shirts, that were graciously gifted to us by SEPTA, each Friday this month. Our students also put together small gift bags for faculty and staff with bracelets that say #ChooseToInclude and a note from the WHS Collaborative Center to join the campaign.”