Equity & Inclusion Newsletter

April 2021, STAFF Edition 8

Read Aloud Video: Autism Acceptance Month - We hope you share with your students!

April is National Autism Acceptance Month! Did you know Autism Acceptance Month first began in the year 1970? Also, each year, on April 2nd, we honor World Autism Awareness Day, an internationally recognized day which began with a resolution by the United Nations in 2007.

The whole month of April was formerly known as Autism Awareness Month, but there has been a push from the autism community to move away from awareness and to acceptance. You can read more about that from the Autism Society here. In the US, the prevalence of autism in children is 1 in 54 as of 2020, according to the CDC.

We know our words matter. The word “awareness” means to have knowledge about something, while the word “acceptance” means to be welcomed, and admitted into a group. This change is important. We want our Region 15 community members to experience acceptance, not just to be aware of one another. Throughout this reading of A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song, we will focus a bit on awareness, because it is always important to keep learning and knowing, but we are most interested in promoting acceptance, and igniting positive change so that our world is more inclusive in everyday life of individuals with autism.

Our guest readers in this video include two teachers from our Special Education department from MES, Mrs. Funderburk and Mrs. Perreault!

From [A Friend For Henry], ©[2019] Author [Jenn Bailey] Illustrations by [Mika Song]. Used with Permission from Chronicle Books, LLC.
A Friend For Henry

MMS Staff on World Autism Awareness Day

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Missed the STEM Professionals Panel event live? Watch below!

Tribury Reads Together: It's not too late to register! All students in grades 6-12 and adults are invited!

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After a community wide vote, Trevor Noah's Born a Crime (and young adult companion text) was the inaugural winning title for our communities-wide read! Registration is open, and all interested 6-12 grade students and adults are invited to participate. Register here.

Tribury Reads Together was created by a group of community volunteers to bring together the communities of Middlebury, Southbury, and Woodbury to read a book and learn about the different aspects of the American experience. For our first theme, we have chosen the experience of being Black, and TRT plans to organize biannual reads that explore other themes such as the experiences of white people, Asian/Pacific Islanders, LatinX people, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, religious minorities and other strands of the diverse American population. For more info, you may read this article which appeared in the Voices newspaper on 2/24 or visit the Tribury Reads Together website.

Recent Work: Elementary Spotlight

Interdisciplinary English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Artistic Expression Lesson

The read aloud text featured in this lesson, The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & Oge Mora, is a beautiful picture book that is sure to inspire all who read it. It also faces truths about the reality of Mary Walker’s life, and of so many others in our nation’s hard history, in a developmentally appropriate manner for even our youngest learners.

When teaching and learning about multiple eras and cultures, it is important to focus on similarities with students’ lives before moving to discuss differences. Learning about “cultural universals” such as art forms, group rules, social organization, basic needs, language and celebrations helps students to recognize that people are bound together by similarities regardless of group membership. In the case of this lesson, students were encouraged to consider the cultural universals of freedom and learning in the context of Mary Walker’s lived experiences.

When students appreciate commonalities, they are also less likely to express fear or stereotypes about members of other groups. This approach also helps students to build empathy, an essential skill for social and emotional development (Teaching Hard History, K-5 Framework). In this lesson, students first define their own conceptions of the the themes of freedom and the spirit of learning from this text. What is it like to be free? What is it like to learn something new? How do these two themes--freedom and learning--go together? Students responded to these questions in collaborative conversations.

Then, the students each used information gained from illustrations and words to demonstrate thematic understanding and expressed their understanding through collage in the style of the award-winning illustrator, Oge Mora. The students responded to the question "what is a part from the text where Mary Walker deeply experienced freedom?" In doing so, students expressed why they thought this part represented freedom, and how freedom and learning go together in the part they selected. If you'd like to enjoy this book, you can watch a read aloud video here or check it out of one of our local libraries.

Staff Learning Opportunities

Contact & Social Media

Instagram: @r15equity_inclusion

*Note: Image (c) 2019 CLC Collective and Dottir Press