Building a Culture of Kindness and Inclusiveness
The Avonworth School District supports a school culture that encourages kindness and inclusiveness. Students have the opportunity to be a part of a variety of clubs and activities that provide an opportunity to create positive change and to be included in the school culture and experience.
A variety of clubs and structures exist throughout the Avonworth School District that provides students with an opportunity to have their voices heard and to support a variety of causes aligned with the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
At Avonworth Elementary School, Game Changers provides students with an opportunity to be included in developing initiatives and to provide input to school administration.
Avonworth High School has a student advisory committee that provides students with an opportunity to be included in developing initiatives and to provide input to school administration. The high school also has the following formal clubs:
- Social Justice Club
- Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Club
- Special Olympics Club
- Do Something Club
Building a culture of belonging begins with our youngest learners through opportunities to participate in clubs like JAMbethekindkid. JAM is an after-school club focused on helping children develop empathy and entrepreneurship through making. Students create and then sell the items they have created. Profits from sales are given to charitable causes.
In 2017, students in JAM created the #bethekindkid movement. This student-created movement started in response to bullying and focuses on making the world a better place through acceptance and kindness. Over the years, #bethekindkid has been a foundation for a variety of student-initiated movements aimed at eliminating hate. For instance, in response to the Tree of Life tragedy, students created #bethekindkid shirts written in Hebrew. Profits from the sale of these shirts were given to the families of the Tree of Life tragedy.
In 2019, JAM was recognized by HundrED as one of the top 100 most inspiring innovations on the planet. Visit JAM's page on HundrED.org website.
The 'Lopes Lounge was a student-driven project which created a space for Avonworth High School students to call their own. The Lopes Lounge is a fully functioning coffee shop where students and staff gather in the morning to purchase a beverage but is also a space that promotes inclusiveness. The Lopes Lounge is run by students in our life skills program. Rather than these students gaining work-related experiences outside of the school, they are able to do so in the Lopes Lounge while getting a chance to interact with their peers. This space has made an incredible difference in the culture at the high school and has helped all students develop empathy and an appreciation for their peers.
High School Bocce Team
The Avonworth High School Bocce Team is part of the Unified Sports Program through Special Olympics Pennsylvania. This program partners students with special needs with their classmates without disabilities to play competitive bocce. The program fosters an environment that is inclusive, accepting, and respectful of all students. The home bocce matches at Avonworth High School are attended by classmates that pack the gym to cheer on their peers.
Supporting an Anti-Racist School Climate
At Avonworth School District, the administration, faculty, and staff are committed to the creation and maintenance of "inclusive learning" spaces. Inclusive learning spaces are classrooms where everyone will be treated with respect and dignity and where all individuals are provided an equitable opportunity to participate, contribute, and succeed. In our classrooms, all students are welcome regardless of race/ethnicity, gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, disabilities, religion, and other diverse identities that we each bring to class. Student success at Avonworth and beyond is enhanced by the innovation and creativity of thought that inclusive classrooms facilitate. The success of an inclusive classroom relies on the participation, support, and understanding of all students. We encourage students to speak up and share personal views but also understand that they are doing so in a learning environment in which we all are expected to engage respectfully and with regard to the dignity of all others.
Avonworth School District supports an inclusive learning environment in which diversity and individual differences must be understood, respected, and appreciated. We believe that all students benefit from experiences that will help them learn, lead, and serve in an increasingly diverse society. All members of our school community must accept the responsibility to demonstrate civility and respect for the dignity of others. Expressions or actions that disparage a person's or group's race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, gender identity/expression, religion, sexual orientation, or other diverse identities are contrary to the mission of the Avonworth School District. We expect that all Avonworth students, faculty, and staff will promote an atmosphere of respect for all members of our Avonworth school community.
Civility and respect for the opinions of others are very important in an academic environment. It is likely some may not agree with everything that is said or discussed in the classroom. Courteous behavior and responses are expected at all times. When students disagree with someone, we strive to ensure that students are able to make a distinction between criticizing an idea and criticizing the person. Expressions or actions that disparage a person's race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, gender identity/expression, religion, sexual orientation, or other diverse identities are contrary to the mission of the Avonworht School District and will not be tolerated.
At the July 13, 2020 meeting of the Avonworth School District Board of Directors, the School Board adopted a resolution supporting an anti-racist school climate and listed action items. In a letter to the community that followed, the School Board "reaffirmed their commitment to support and maintain an anti-racist, safe, and inclusive school environment that provides an equal opportunity for all students in each and every one of our programs. There is no place for racism in our country, especially in our nation's schools."
The Avonworth School District Administration will continue to support the creation and maintenance of an anti-racist and inclusive school environment. Behavior, comments, or actions contrary to our District's mission of creating this school environment will not be tolerated and will be disciplined accordingly. We need a school environment where everyone plays a role in making sure everyone feels they belong and are respected. We are one school community and we need to take care of, support, and respect one another. We thank each of you for your contribution to making Avonworth the amazing school district that it is.