Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today congratulated students and staff at 25 schools for implementing programs during the last school year that embraced diversity and differences in others during the kickoff for the Department of Education’s fourth-annual Respect for All Week, which runs this month from February 11 through 15. The 25 schools were named recipients of the “Respect for All Schools” Award for implementing programs that teach them the importance of respecting others. The Department of Education (DOE) created the award in collaboration with the City Council to highlight the importance of respecting others as part of the City’s efforts to combat bullying and harassment. Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm joined Speaker Quinn to celebrate the Respect for All schools at P.S. 380 in Brooklyn, where they were joined by Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, Council of Supervisors and Administrators Vice President Randi Herman, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Joseph Levin, PS 380 Principal Diane Vitolo, and community partners.
“Respect for All Week celebrates the different cultures among our students, teachers and administrators,” Chancellor Walcott said. “Congratulations to all the students and staff at the schools that won awards today. These schools stand out for creating and participating in programs that embrace differences in others. I also want to thank Speaker Quinn, Chair Jackson, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, CSA President Logan and our partners for their continued support of this initiative.”
“For the last six years, New York City’s Respect for All Initiative (RFA) has been helping teachers and principals throughout the five boroughs create school communities where all students feel safe and respected all year round,” said City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn. “During RFA Week, students in every borough will participate in programs and activities that teach them to appreciate diversity and respect one another – skills and values that will help them lead healthier, happier and more productive lives. Students will also receive crucial information on where to go for help if they or someone they know has been a victim of bullying or harassment.”
“Living in a culturally and diverse place such as New York City, we are fortunate to be constantly interacting with individuals from all walks of life. In order to preserve the freedom to be who we are, it is important we teach our students about embracing what makes us different and respect our own individuality. Respect for All Week highlights all programs and activities that spread the message of acceptance and discourages bullying and harassing behavior,” said Councilmember Robert Jackson, Chair of the New York City Council’s Education Committee.
“Bravo to the students and staff at the 25 winning schools of the ‘Respect for All Schools’ Award, and to Chancellor Walcott, the Department of Education and Speaker Quinn for leading this campaign against bullying. By embracing New York’s vibrant diversity with the third annual ‘Respect for All’ Week, we ensure that our students get an ‘A+’ in acceptance and respect for our differences,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “This initiative is an important step in fighting intolerance, and the 25 winning schools are truly ‘top of their class’.”
“Bullying and harassment continue to be major problems in our society and our schools must play an important role in confronting these issues,” City Council Member Stephen Levin said. “Respect for All Week is a critical step to combating discriminatory behavior amongst students and allows students and teachers opportunities to stop the cycle of bullying and harassment. I commend Chancellor Walcott and Speaker Quinn for ensuring that Respect for All Week is a staple in the curriculum of all New York City schools.”
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said, “Indeed, we all need more respect for each other. When you learn respect, you learn to open yourself to new and wonderful people, ideas, experiences and adventures. I am so proud that PS 380 has won a Respect for All award. It's an honor and it shows the City what I've always known—the families of North Brooklyn know how to live together celebrating our rich and diverse character.”
“No student should fear going to school because of bullying or harassment. We pride ourselves on being one of the most diverse and welcoming cities in the world—and teaching our students to embrace that will help create the inclusive, productive learning environments that are vital for all our kids. Respect for All Week is key in moving us toward the great education every student deserves,” said State Sen. Daniel Squadron. “Congratulations to PS 380 and all the schools that have taken the lead in promoting diversity and respect.”
During Respect for All Week, City schools focus on diversity and fostering inclusive learning environments for all students. DOE launched Respect for All to combat bullying and harassment based on ethnicity, color, national origin, race, religion, citizenship or immigration status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, weight, disability, and other characteristics. To support schools in this work, the Office of School and Youth Development has made many resources available to principals and school staff members — including sample lesson plans and connections to community organizations that offer programs and free curricular resources supporting the goals of Respect for All. The Department also provided principals with suggested activities to guide their Respect for All Week planning and will continue expanding the availability of such resources to support implementation of those programs throughout the school year. The imitative is supported by the City Council, United Federation of Teachers, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators and community based organizations.
“Bullying isn’t always blatant, rather it can be subtle and covert,” said Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “So, we must always be tuned in to the nuances of speech and behavior that can clue us in to dangerous attitudes and acts of disrespect for our children and also for our teachers and administrators. Bullying involves the entire school community and the entire school community must address it.”
“One of the most important things we can give our students is a safe learning environment,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The UFT is proud to be a part of Respect for All and is committed to reducing incidents of bullying in our schools. The UFT's BRAVE campaign holds conferences, parent workshops, and the BRAVEline fields phone calls from students in need. The UFT will continue, as it always has, to help create an environment in schools that is free from bullying and nurturing to all children.”
Of the 25 Respect for All winning schools, eight have won two consecutive years. They include: PS 119, Brooklyn International High School, and P.S. 380 in Brooklyn; PS 29 and Staten Island Tech High School in Staten Island; PS 90 and PS 186 in Queens; and PS 69 in the Bronx. The 17 additional winners include: PS 228, PS 69, PS 62, PS 149, PS 254, PS 154, PS 152, PS 97, PS 232, IS 141 and VOYAGES Preparatory in Queens; PS 23 and Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy International High School (Kappa) in the Bronx; PS 153 and PS 59 in Manhattan; and PS 89 and JHS 259 in Brooklyn.
The schools succeeded in offering programs that celebrated diversity and respect among the students. For example, at PS 186 in Queens, the school has a photo display in the lobby of students whose caring words and deeds have earned them the title of “Citizen of the Month.” At Staten Island Tech High School, there is a student Respect for all Team that presented lessons on how the impact of stereotyping people to all the freshman health classes, and at PS 380 in Brooklyn, the school introduced an Early Morning Enrichment Program that focuses on character education and development. During these programs, teachers conduct biweekly lessons focusing on six character trains: responsibility, trust, worthiness, fairness, respect, good citizenship and caring.
“The students and staff have incorporated lessons from Respect for All in the curriculum so that students understand how these lessons can apply to their everyday lives in and out of school,” Principal Diane Vitolo said. “Our students and staff have excelled in celebrating diversity and we are so proud to be a winner of the Respect for All award for the second year in a row.”
Morningside Center supports the Department’s Respect for All Week and is proud to be a partner in this very important initiative,” said Tom Roderick, the Center’s executive director, and one of the DOE’s community partners. “Respect for All encourages schools to think thoughtfully about fostering caring, safe learning environments for all students throughout the school year. It is essential to teach young people the life-skills for citizenship in a diverse world.”
“The PFLAG NYC Safe Schools Program has been a partner in Respect for All Week since its inception and it has been an incredibly valuable tool for sparking conversations with and among students about their diverse backgrounds,” said Drew Taliabue, PFLAG NYC’s executive director. “This is not just a feel-good exercise, but is critically important for academic success. Students can better focus on their job of learning when they don't fear for their safety or have to handle harassment and bullying for some aspect of who they are. PFLAG NYC is glad for the opportunity as LGBT people and straight allies to foster understanding of the more than one-third of families that have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender family member and how intolerance and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity hurts everyone in the school community.”
“Facing History and Ourselves is proud of the efforts of NYC's Department of Education as it continues to celebrate Respect for All week,” said Peter Nelson, director of the NYC Office of Facing History and Ourselves. “What this week does is intentionally promote and support teaching that attends to the needs of all students which in turn improves the likelihood of the success of all students. It would be wonderful if this happened naturally but without this kind of effort it doesn't happen naturally enough.”
“Respect for All in New York City is the most extensive and extraordinary expression of our commitment to safety, compassion, and respect for diversity and difference as well as our clear response to bullying and ridicule by schools, staff and students nationally and internationally,” said Mark Weiss, education director of Operation Respect. “We have a lot to learn and to do, but the world can learn how to do it by highlighting our collaborative efforts during this special Respect for All Week.”