Community Values Committee
Using Values to Build Up the World Around Us
Respect. Honesty. Courage. These three distinct words have significant meaning at Stephen Gaynor School as the cornerstone of our Community Values Committee (CVC), a wide-ranging initiative intended to foster an inclusive environment that supports and celebrates each individual in our school community.
Celebrating diversity in learning styles has been a core value at Gaynor for more than 50 years. It is important that we continue to recognize and welcome all forms of diversity, whether they be race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, learning and physical abilities, or age.
With the help of the CVC, we can ensure that these values are infused in all aspects of the school for students of all ages. The idea is that we can make a meaningful impact if we connect these values to our students through exciting activities and projects. Furthermore, a powerful message is sent to children when they see, not just their class, but the entire school participating in lessons, discussions, and special projects around specific values. The school hopes to help foster an even greater sense of community within the school, as well as a stronger sense of responsibility to each person who is a part of the school.
The CVC works to raise awareness, promote critical thinking, and encourage responsible action around issues of diversity. Respect, Honesty, and Courage are used to integrate examples of diversity into the curriculum, facilitate faculty training to promote diversity in the classroom, and incorporate events that celebrate diversity. Through the many initiatives developed by the CVC, the common goal is to help students support and accept their peers, while appreciating diversity in their local and global communities.
Gaynor teachers are committed to incorporating the CVC values into ongoing lesson plans, social development curriculum, and events. This may look different throughout the school, depending on the age group, but the goal is united. For example, Early Childhood teachers read the book, The Skin You Live In, by Michel Tyler, to help students better understand the varying skin tones people have all over the world. Students then found their own skin tone by mixing together a combination of eight shades of paint, realizing their skin was not one color, but a mix of many. They traced their hand, painted it with their new-found skin tone, then compared with a friend to determine that while some were similar in color, none of them were exactly the same, and most importantly – skin tone does not reveal anything about an individual’s personality or interests.
In Lower School, some teachers have leveraged the spirit of Thanksgiving to illustrate the importance of respecting cultures and religions that are different from those of each student. Students learned about various harvest celebrations around the world, then researched a different holiday, sharing their knowledge with the class. Students hung a beautiful world map with ribbons linking each celebration to the country of origin. These kinds of activities help make abstract concepts more tangible, which allows students to replicate the lesson in their own lives.
Middle School students took a vow of silence in the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Day of Silence. This quiet, but powerful, student-led event raised awareness about the silencing effect of anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Participating students vowed not to speak the entire school day and wore blue t-shirts and rainbow ribbons to signify their participation. Faculty also donned rainbow ribbons to demonstrate their support, providing a powerful visual symbol of solidarity in every corner of the school.
Through these simple examples, it’s easy to get a glimpse into how community values and a sense of inclusiveness are woven throughout the curriculum at the school. At Gaynor, we celebrate each individual in our school community and hope that they feel the positive impacts of this initiative every day.
For more information about how our Parents’ Association is dedicated to promoting and advocating for increased diversity among our Gaynor community, click here.