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Despite national atmosphere, Homewood students respond with respect and kindness

For the past several months of the presidential campaign and the week since, school officials across the country have been reporting incidents of students being attacked verbally or physically. Teachers nationwide have been struggling to remind students that name-calling and harassment is not part of the school culture.

The Chronicle is sharing this informative letter that Superintendent Dale Mitchell sent this week to parents of children in Homewood District 153 about the ongoing benefits children gain from social/moral programs taught at Willow, Churchill and James Hart Schools and those values being reinforced in the community:

I wanted to report on the atmosphere in our schools this past week and tell you how proud and thankful I am to be a part of this wonderful learning environment.

I know we have all been unsettled by the coverage in the press of incidents of harassment, threats and violence-some in educational settings-in the wake of last week’s election.

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Thankfully, we haven’t seen those incidents here in our schools. For that, I credit the years of groundwork we have laid in the school district through our SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) and PBIS (Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports) programs.

From their first days at Willow School until we promote them to high school, our students are intentionally taught and reminded that all students are welcome here. That we are all made better and stronger and richer by being in one another’s company and learning from each other.

That we expect them to treat all people with kindness and respect. That disagreement is normal and expected but disrespecting any student or staff member will come with serious consequences.

Respect. Responsibility. Kindness. These are the hallmarks of Homewood Schools. We stress these principles not only because they promote academic success but also because they help build character and good citizenship that will serve students well throughout their lives.

But I also must place credit with the greater Homewood community where people continue to want to live and work and send their children to school, not in spite of its diversity, but because of it.

Our school culture of inclusiveness, respect and kindness could never take hold with students if it wasn’t being nurtured and backed up by parents at home and by our local places of worship, businesses and other organizations and institutions.

So this Thursday, please know that I will be offering up even more thanks than usual for our parents, grandparents and greater community. I will be forever grateful for the many, many ways you support Homewood Schools.

Best wishes for a restful and fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday.

Dale Mitchell

Superintendent

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