SFUSD’s commitment to being diversity-driven is one of the district’s five core values. (Courtesy photo)

SFUSD’s commitment to being diversity-driven is one of the district’s five core values. (Courtesy photo)

Take time to celebrate and include all students

Feeling safe and included at school is fundamental for learning. In fact, it’s so important to us that we actually survey our students each year to measure their sense of belonging.

This past week, the San Francisco Unified School District celebrated Inclusive Schools Week to bring more awareness to what being truly inclusive means.

CELEBRATING INCLUSION

To kick off the week, Special Olympics hosted a soccer game at San Francisco City Hall between Mission and Lowell.

Rainbow Club students at Willie Brown Middle School made a digital frame celebrating LGBTQ heroes for a photo booth.

Kindergarten students at Jean Parker Elementary read a book called “Same, Same but Different” and created colorful self-portraits.

Miraloma Elementary School went all out with daily school-wide activities including “I am Unique Day” and “Meet Someone New Day” as well as ability awareness stations and sing-a-longs.

No matter how it was celebrated, Inclusive Schools Week was about one of the fundamental promises of public schools: Everyone has a right to a free public education.

WHAT INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS LOOK LIKE

Inclusive means students who are receiving special education services learn alongside their general education peers. It means our students who identify as transgender feel accepted. And it means students who just arrived here from another country feel supported to maintain their culture and heritage language while also learning English and new customs.

We recognize that each child is unique and learns differently and educators must engage students with different abilities all in one classroom.

While our schools have made great strides over the past several years, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure every single one of our students feels included and receives the support they need to be successful.

DIVERSITY-DRIVEN

One of the things that makes our schools great is the diversity of our students.

SFUSD is committed to being diversity-driven, not just valuing diversity. By this, we mean that we will respect and seek to understand each person. It is one of five fundamental core values we insist upon.

All of our students bring a rich array of life experiences, perspectives and even language skills. No two humans are alike and that is cause for celebration.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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