Dear APS Families and Staff,
As we reach the midpoint in our school year, we want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our values as a school division that welcomes, respects and cares for all students, families and staff, regardless of their race, national origin, creed, color, religion, political affiliation, ancestry, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or disability.
Arlington Public Schools (APS) is home to students from 147 different nations. Our diversity, and the many cultures, languages and religions that make up our school division, continues to be one of our greatest strengths. At APS, we honor and embrace our differences, and we learn from each other.
While there are countless examples of our school community celebrating and upholding these values every day, recent incidents across our country and here in Arlington remind us that we are not immune to intolerance. We have seen hate speech and symbols of hate used within our schools. Whether these acts are done intentionally or out of a lack of thought or ignorance, we take every reported incident of this nature very seriously. We do not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination in our schools.
As School Board members, administrators, parents and guardians, it is our shared responsibility to model inclusive values, to report and address intolerance when we see it, and to ensure that all feel welcome in our community. Our principals, teachers and staff continue to reinforce these values in our schools and classrooms as a core part of our curriculum. Throughout all grade levels, we undertake many discussions and activities to teach students about different cultures, and about being kind, showing empathy, and accepting others. Additionally, APS offers professional development for staff on cultural competency and inclusive practices throughout the year.
We urge you to use this midpoint in the school year to remind your student(s) that if they hear or see something that does not look, sound or feel like what we expect in our community, including hate speech or symbols, they should say something immediately to an administrator, teacher, counselor or other trusted member of our staff so that APS can address the issue immediately. Ensuring students have an adult in school whom they know they can talk to about anything that arises is one of our core priorities and is a central part of affirming that our students feel safe and supported in school.
All of us can help to foster a community in which all our students feel safe and continue to learn and grow, working and learning together, as we honor our differences.
The social-emotional resources used by APS counselors include lessons on building empathy skills and awareness of diversity. Please talk with your school’s counselor if you have questions or need support on this topic. Additional parent and educator resources on diversity and tolerance are available online:
- Scholastic: Teaching Diversity – A Place to Begin
- Committee for Children: Addressing Hate in Schools
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
|Cintia Z. Johnson
School Board Chair