Wilton schools partner with ADL to improve climate

Following the two anti-Semitic incidents at Middlebrook School this past fall, the Wilton Public School District has been working with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to improve the climate in its schools.

Anti-bias training

High school and middle school staff members have undergone anti-biased training, according to the district’s Dec. 23 News from the Schools newsletter.

Cider Mill employees are scheduled to undergo training on Jan. 31, and training for Miller-Driscoll employees is expected to take place in either January or February.

Middlebrook

On Jan. 11, Middlebrook will present the ADL’s Step Up! Program, which helps students “understand the different roles people play in bullying situations, the dynamics of typical incidents of bias and the range of responses available to them.”

The program is designed to give a voice to the targets of bullying and prejudice, build empathy in the aggressors and inspire bystanders to become allies.

Social studies teacher Cindy Beck-Moore has also launched an Upstander Club at the middle school to “further empower students to serve as strong allies to those who are marginalized by mean behavior,” according to the News from the Schools.

No Place for Hate

The district’s safe school climate coordinator, Kim Zemo, will be convening a district-wide committee this month to carry out the ADL’s No Place for Hate curriculum.

Utilizing the district’s existing school climate improvement teams, the district plans to integrate pieces of the curriculum into its current Climate Improvement Action Plans.

Though the ADL doesn’t currently support this national program in Connecticut, the district will “coordinate with the ADL, pilot a number of the activities presented, and hopefully be the first school district in Connecticut to be recognized as a No Place for Hate district in the next school year,” according to the News from the Schools.

Names Can Really Hurt Us

Zemo will also be laying the groundwork beginning next month to bring the ADL’s Names Can Really Hurt Us program to the high school next fall.

The program is a “high school student-centered assembly program that teaches students respect for differences in a large-scale setting,” according to the ADL.

Through the program, students and adults “jointly develop and host a school-specific assembly where student participants share their stories and opinions about bullying and name-calling in a safe forum.”

Following the assembly, students participate in small group discussions led by a student-teacher team.

The program culminates with a report of “next step” ideas, generated by students, to “help create a welcoming and supportive school community,” according to the ADL.

In partnership with the ADL, the Wilton Public School District will “spend time in the spring to plan and train student leaders at Wilton High School,” according to the News from the Schools.

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