Students at Fuller Elementary School Celebrate Each Other’s Differences
Celebrate differences! That's the theme of this week at Fuller Elementary.
All week, students have been completing activities in their classroom to help them understand that everyone is different, and to appreciate those differences. The goal of the week is to spread awareness, knowledge, and compassion so that students treat everyone with kindness.
"The more knowledge our kids have about people with special needs, the more acceptance they have, and the more kindness there is in the world,” said Fuller Elementary SEALS (Structured Education for Alternate Learning Styles) Teacher Wendi Socha. “We want to talk about our differences together, from teachers and staff, to our students.”
For over eight years, Socha has been helping plan the Celebrating Differences week, including putting together kits so that other schools can easily implement activities for their students.
This year, one special event featured a former Tempe Elementary School District student, Mr. Cal, all grown up. He talked with the students about what it was like growing up having cerebral palsy, and how it was difficult for him to balance and write. He shared how working with physical therapists and occupational therapists in school helped him learn in spite of the condition.
Students then had the chance to explore and learn about the adaptive equipment that Mr. Cal and many students in Tempe Elementary schools use on a regular basis.
“It was fun to learn about how people do things like have good balance and sit in a chair, and write their name even when it’s hard for them,” said Second-Grader Brielle Cooper, who participated in the activities.
Socha shared that within the Tempe Elementary School District, students with special needs do a lot of inclusion – meaning that they are in the classrooms as much as possible and not just pulled out. Giving all students the opportunity to learn more about what it is like to have special needs gives them empathy and kindness – which is always a mission of Tempe Elementary.
Other activities during Celebrating Differences Week included morning announcements, simulation stations, and guest speakers (adults with disabilities), along with videos and books presented in the classrooms.
“We want our students to see that we are more alike than we are different."