As we approach the end of 2016 and enter the holiday season for many, we are reflecting on this past year and looking forward to what 2017 may bring. 2016 saw us launch a brand new website and completely refresh and revise our Don’t Laugh at Me curriculum with even more integrated arts activities, curricular connections and grade level modifications for K-12.
More importantly, those newly revised lessons are now being downloaded more than 1000 times per month from our website and from Share My Lesson, the wonderful resource for teachers created by AFT. That means they are reaching thousands of students in classrooms around the world every day.
Of course, we have continued our professional development work in New York City, Westchester County, NY, Clark County, NV, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC, and in Israel training and coaching teachers, principals, counselors, and more, in implementation of Don’t Laugh at Me and in related efforts like restorative justice, school culture and climate improvement, advisory circles, and peace education/anti-bias efforts overall. We know that our efforts in those communities have reached more than 50,000 students in 2016 alone.
As we look to 2017, we feel the mantra we have adopted of “live love, teach peace, fight unfairness wherever it exists” is even more urgent and pressing. We worry about the increase in hate related incidents in schools and communities over the last several months. We worry that far too many children experience trauma as a near daily experience.
Yet, we know that together with extraordinary educators, policy makers, and activists we proudly call partners and friends, we can meet any challenge. We can, together, ensure that each child, in each of our schools, in each of our communities learns and lives in a safe, compassionate, respectful environment.
We say this with utter confidence, because as Noel Paul Stookey so eloquently explains in his introduction to the newest video from our gala concert last September, “the answer which is ‘Blowing in the Wind’ is, and always has been, us.”
Thank you for all your support during 2016. We look forward to 2017 in partnership and peace.