Equity and Diversity Newsletter

Elementary Edition December 2019

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How to Teach Our Students to Love Social Justice

What is Social Justice?

Social justice is equal access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

Social Justice effects the needs of our world, our political system, our jails, and our society as a whole.

So how do we nurture a sense of justice in our students? What are some ways we can bring them into our real-world while protecting them from age-inappropriate content? How can we instill in our students a deep-rooted trust in compassion, justice, and kindness, despite the problems they might see in the world?

Here are a few suggestions from the author Jennifer Gafford:

  • Teach them history. Visit monuments, battlefields, read stories of the past, and share resources about celebrations and holidays. Exploring historical viewpoints is an excellent opportunity for your students to understand others’ points of view, and become acquainted with more than one perspective.
  • Share current events. There are ongoing events that may catch your child’s attention and increase their passion for social justice. If they like animals, talk to them about endangered wildlife and environmental care. If they are learning about Native Americans in school? Teach them about problems that many Native Americans face in their educational systems. It’s essential to be honest with your students and also sensitive to their ability to handle the content.
  • Use children's literature. Whether the literature is about people who are different than they are, or an affirmation of their identity or one that exposes bias or shares stories of people who stood up to injustice, reading books is an excellent way to address Social Justice.
  • Love justice, love kindness. Justice roars and bellows. Kindness whispers and acts quietly. They need each other. Teach your students to stand up for someone that is having a problem, but teach them likewise, to be concerned about the person causing the problem. Justice and kindness go hand-in-hand. We don’t need to be champion fighters to be great advocates for justice. Teach your students about modern heroes who are fighting for justice and showing kindness. Teach them to act justly and to love mercy, and that is never too late to do what is right.

It is essential that adults model positive examples for their students. Do not give them the idea that we should be "colorblind" to racial differences or tell them to be quiet when they notice someone with a disability. We want to encourage them to honor people's identities without judging or discriminating based on differences. Teaching our students that their voices are influential is a lasting way to help them to take affirmative action that will change the world.

Library Corner

One way to promote Social Justice is to teach our students about equality, not just in rights, but also in access to opportunities and privileges. Picture books are one way to do that with your students. Books are a fantastic launchpad to understanding, and this world needs more of that.

Here are a few picture books about Social Justice you can read and talk about with your class.

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Books are available in Springfield Public Schools Libraries

Did You Know?

December is known around the world as a time of celebration honoring family, cultures, religions, and traditions that have been with humanity for hundreds of years. Here are some interesting facts about this magical month.

  • The name December comes from the Latin decem for “ten,” as it was the tenth month in the Roman calendar.
  • The term Yuletide comes from a Norse tradition of cutting and burning a tree to bring in the Winter Solstice. This was to last through 12 days.
  • December 12th is Poinsettia Day.
  • The first artificial Christmas tree was made in Germany, fashioned out of goose feathers that were dyed green!
  • World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1, December 6, is Constitution Day in Spain, Saint Nicholas Day in Greece, and Independence Day in Finland. Nobel Prizes are awarded on Human Rights day, which is celebrated on December 10. Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, and Hanukah is celebrated on December 20.

Susan, and author: susan (111 Posts). “Top 12 Facts about December.” Kaplan Blog, 10 Dec. 1970, https://www.kaplaninternational.com/blog/top-12-facts-about-december.

Just For You!

Ways to Relax During Winter Break

Well, you have made it! All of the energy and hard work you have put into the first half of the school year has finally concluded. Now It is time for a long-awaited and indeed much- deserved break. While it can seem hard to turn your brain off completely when school is out, it’s essential to take some time for yourself. Here are a few suggestions that might help you to relax and rejuvenate over this winter break.

1. Read for fun

Take some time to cozy up over winter break with a mug of hot cocoa or your favorite beverage and read a book that’s been on your to-do list for a while. Be sure to pick something that you’ll be able to finish over break—there’s nothing worse than starting a book and not finishing it.

2. Catch up on your favorite show

Catch up on that show your colleagues (or students) have been recommending all year. Take advantage of the cold winter weather and settle in for an evening of watching something that sparks your interest, either alone or with others.

3. Spend time with family and friends

Squeeze in some time with a friend to meet for coffee, drinks, or even dinner, and catch up on what’s been happening with those you love. There is nothing like spending some quality time with friends or family, and it’s an excellent opportunity to recharge and receive some much-needed social time.

4. Schedule “me time.”

Take some me-time a day or two to entirely devote to yourself over the break. Turn off all distractions, and finally get that massage, take that yoga class, go to Branson or start that passion project you have been putting off. Scheduling some much-needed “me time” will help your soul rejuvenate for the second half of the school year and the new year. Taking time for yourself will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your students, family, and friends.

5. Start planning for next year

If you feel that you must devote some time to the spring semester, you can develop a new lesson, research that new classroom activity everyone’s talking about, or complete some professional development to help strengthen your craft as an educator. Be sure to take time to set goals and resolutions for yourself in 2020.

To all of Springfield Public School Educators, we know how hard you work every day to make each semester a success. We want to thank you for your devotion to education and our students. Have a wonderful Winter Break.

Blog.edmentum.com. (2019). 5 Ways for Educators to Relax and Rejuvenate over Winter Break. [online] Available at: https://blog.edmentum.com/5-ways-educators-relax-and-rejuvenate-over-winter-break [Accessed 2 Dec. 2019].

Coming Events

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Happy Kwanzaa

December 26- January 1

Local Kwanzaa Celebration to be held:

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Turning Point Church

1722 N. National Ave.

Springfield, Mo.

Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm

There will be fellowshipping over a traditional meal, music, and dancing.

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Wesport Young Ladies of Purpose Celebrating Kwanzaa