RESPECT STARTS HERE
A Young Women’s Preparatory Network anti-bias program, pursuing empathy and equity through education.
LISTEN, LEARN, AND ACT
The year-long RSH program is interwoven into the academic curriculum and administered to students through 90-minute lessons. These lessons include best-practices from resources such as Story Corps, Teaching Tolerance, and the Annenberg Classroom, among others. Teachers begin discussions to create a climate of respect and earnest listening within the classroom, creating rules for a safe space in which diverse and conflicting opinions may be freely shared. The goal is for the lessons to bleed into regular classroom discussions so that teachers and students are stretching their understanding of current and historical events, literary studies, economics, art, and science to include a widened perspective and a tolerance for beliefs that reflect a viewpoint that differs from what was previously learned. RSH lessons are custom-tailored to each school's unique student population.
Programming includes school-wide art projects, guest speakers, and small-group lessons focused on gender, race, disability, and sexuality.
Jennifer, 11th grade
RSH features a multi-year curriculum designed for middle and high school students. Below is a sampling of a typical program year. The RSH curriculum is tailored to meet the specific needs of different school populations.
Students are introduced to RSH concepts through a school-wide summer reading program. Students read novels centered on conflicts about race, cultural difference, disability, religion, and gender identity.The RSH curriculum provides historical, cultural, political, and other background context for the novels to help students understand the emotional climate of the books. When school begins, students engage in classroom discussions about the books and compare aspects of the novels to their own lives.These discussions provide a safe space, beginning through fictional characters, for students to bring up their own biases, misunderstandings, or uncertainties about people’s lives that may be very different or often similar to their own.The goal is to find common ground in situations the students may not initially recognize as being similar in their own lives, thus allowing respect and tolerance for their peers.
I really enjoyed all the aspects of the program. It is a very eye-opening and heart-touching experience.
School-wide events and seminars help create an atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance, and unity among students. For instance, Year One of the RSH curriculum begins with a school-wide conference focused on blending listening, learning, and creating. Students are presented with the concept of "My Story" that emphasizes the power of one's voice through poetry, song, and repetitive response. In the morning session, students alternate between hands-on writing sessions and listening to speakers representing different religions, cultures, ethnicities, and races. The speakers share their personal stories, journeys, and bias they have encountered and how they learned to overcome. Moving from written expressions of identity, the afternoon is spent creating an art project focusing on Respect, to share this message throughout the school and with their families.
School-wide events work to build enthusiasm and confidence to encourage full participation in the RSH lessons.