(December 2021)—Willow Road Elementary School in the Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen prides itself on promoting positive character development. Each month, the school faculty meets to discuss how they will incorporate the selected monthly trait into their lesson plans. Traits that the school will focus on throughout the year include politeness, compassion, respect, perseverance and thoughtfulness.
“For the month of December, Willow Road will be focusing on respect,” said Principal Rosalie Ambrosio. “Every day, teachers and students will strive to demonstrate respect in the classroom and beyond.”
The school’s book of the month, The Proudest Blue, also ties in the theme of respect. Written by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and award-winning author S.K. Ali, the illustrated book follows a young girl whose older sister faces challenges while starting to wear her hijab. The book encourages students to be proud of their culture and who they are, as well as to be appreciative and respectful of cultures other than their own. The selection of The Proudest Blue as required reading is also consistent with the NYS Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education (CR-S) initiative, which aims to create student-centered learning environments that affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities.
After reading The Proudest Blue, students brainstormed ideas regarding how they would show respect. They created individual pieces of work that were incorporated into a class poster.