FAIR HAVEN KIDS EMBRACE ‘THE OTHER R’

duffy-gaunt-butler-fhSuzanne Duffy, Laraine Gaunt, and Suzanne Butler at the “It’s OK to Be Different” assembly, which helped kick off the “Week of Respect” at Sickles School in Fair Haven.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

At Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven, the subject of respect – like reading and writing — is taught all year long. During this year’s state-mandated Week of Respect, Sickles  students participated in meaningful activities designed to reinforce lessons about kindness and acceptance.

A kickoff event was held on Friday, September 30, and featured the “It’s OK to Be Different” assembly presented by the program’s creator and director Laraine Gaunt. An educator whose now-grown children once attended Sickles School, Gaunt introduced “It’s OK to Be Different” in 1978 to teach young children respect for all individuals and to promote understanding and tolerance.

“It’s OK to Be Different” is a year-long initiative at Sickles School and complements the tenets of the Responsive Classroom Philosophy already in place at all grade levels – “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” (Pre-K and Kindergarten), “Understanding Disabilities” (First Grade), “Respect for Different Learners” (Second Grade), and “Celebrating Cultures”  (Third Grade).

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‘UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENCES’ ACTIVITIES ENLIGHTEN, INSPIRE FAIR HAVEN STUDENTS

Sickles School 4Volunteer Risa Bertodatti assists third grade students with a hands-on activity during Understanding Differences Day at Sickles School.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

Each year, an innovative day-long program at Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven helps third-grade students explore and celebrate differences. Presented on May 15, Understanding Differences Day featured hands-on activities and presentations throughout the day, hosted by school staff members and volunteers.

Covered topics covered physical disabilities (including visual and hearing impairments), as well as developmental and learning disabilities. Students engaged in interactive learning activities that included the maneuvering of crutches and wheelchairs (supplied by Little Silver Pharmacy), the making of name tags using Braille, and a demonstration of how a visually impaired person might keep track of money and organize food.

Guest speakers included Lori Timney, who is hearing-impaired and who shared her life experiences with students. Volunteer Sarah Maris helped students to understand the challenges faced by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Down’s syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Sickles School Social Worker Nicole Green and Sickles School Psychologist Ashley Goral hosted an information session about learning disabilities; this session included presentations by students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School who discussed their personal experiences and ways in which they have learned to cope through the years. At the conclusion of the morning and afternoon sessions, all of the third grade students participated in reflective writing sessions based on what they had learned.

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