Middle School Fosters Kindness and Respect

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Students and staff at Edmund W. Miles Middle School are striving to create a culture of kindness and respect. Those efforts are paying off as the school recently received the No Place for Hate designation by the Anti-Defamation League. 

The national initiative is a school climate improvement framework to combat bias, bullying and hatred. The goals are to build inclusive and safe communities in which all students can thrive, empower students, staff and families to take a stand against bullying and hatred, and send a clear unified message that all students have a place to belong.

A team of students and staff, led by guidance counselor Keri Kearney and social worker Beatriz Offitto spearheaded several initiatives this year that helped achieve the designation. The school created a kindness rock garden in the fall, and everyone in the school was invited to paint a rock with an inspirational message. A Black History Month student celebration in February emphasized the appreciation of diversity through song, dance, poetry and artwork. 

Recently, students created trees of respect in the cafeteria. They wrote messages on paper leaves about ways they can show respect and foster kindness within the school such as “Smile to make someone’s day,” “Congratulate people on their achievements” and “Say thank you!”

The school participates in Olweus Bully Prevention, a research-based program that is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer. It includes schoolwide rules and consequences, classroom level meetings to build community, individual interventions for students who bully or are bullied along with parental involvement, and community efforts to increase support of anti-bullying messages and strategies. All students also signed a Resolution of Respect.

Six students are members of the No Place for Hate committee including seventh-graders Nataly Carbajal and Samantha Molino, eighth-graders Kayla Marrero and Gianely McCatty and ninth-graders Vanessa Garcia and Amber Palmer. They were chosen for their exemplary character and embodying the values of a No Place for Hate school. They will attend the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate Recognition Ceremony on May 25 at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.