“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
Ridgefield School District values the diverse ethnic heritage of the students we serve and believes to be prepared for today’s global society and workforce, students must be able to understand, appreciate, work with and learn from people with cultures and backgrounds different from their own.
We understand educating our children requires a partnership. Students need support at home and from the community to succeed in school and life. Each student is unique and learning styles are different. We believe the diversity of our school community, which in simplest terms means the ways in which people are different, enhances the district’s ability to implement our goals.
Education involves acknowledging and valuing what is comfortable and known and leading students to an understanding and appreciation of what is new and different. Encountering different perspectives, ideas, ways of thinking, and understandings is an essential part of this process. Through their experience with such differences students develop the ability to think critically, to make informed judgments, to imagine, to understand, and to grow. Helping students understand their connection to the world and to each other will enable them not only to achieve their highest potentials, but also to serve as strong and effective leaders. This principle is at the heart of our mission to foster unlimited possibilities.
Respect for diversity mirrors Union Ridge’s commitment to character education. It is the school’s goal that all students, school families, and faculty and staff feel welcome, valued, and respected at Union Ridge. The values that anchor our three Rs —respectful, responsible, resilient — also characterize our attitude toward the diversity in our school community.
If you are interested in discussing diversity with your children here are some ways to think about the conversation. Our children are influenced by what they see and hear. No matter how unbiased we hope to be, every one of us has inherited prejudicial beliefs from our upbringing and our community. Our personal prejudices affect what we do and do not teach our children about others and how we solve social problems.
Before we can help our children, it is important to reflect on our own biases, privileges, and disadvantages. Ask yourself:
• What was I taught about people who are different from me?
• What biased situations have I experienced? What did I do? How did I feel?
• What people do I feel most comfortable with? ... least comfortable?
• What privileges or disadvantages do I have because of my gender, education, economic status, occupation, experiences, age, physical health, race, religion and cultural background?
What can we do?
• Accept the uniqueness of your child. If your child feels good about him or herself, she or he will be less likely to be a victim or perpetrator.
• Develop sensitivity and compassion. Caring, empathetic children are less likely to be hurtful to others.
• Challenge myths about people who are different with facts.
• Be honest when answering children’s questions about differences. Don’t try to ignore the person in a wheelchair or the toddler’s question about why someone has a different color skin.
• If your child says something hurtful ask “what made you say that?” then explain why the comment was unacceptable. Remind them that all people have feelings just as they do.
• Watch television together. If you see violence being used to solve problems, discuss with your children other things the characters could have done.
• Expand your circle of friends. Introduce your children to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
• Be an activist role model. Participate in activities that help others.