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Edison Intermediate School in Westfield Receives National Teaching Tolerance Award

Lorre Korecky

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 • 4:44pm

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program has named Edison Intermediate School as a Model School for its exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among students and throughout campus during the 2013-14 school year.

Edison is one of 76 schools from across the country receiving the honor for encouraging Mix It Up Day. According to the Center, for more than a decade, Mix It Up Day has provided students across the country with an opportunity to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch.

Edison Intermediate School was among the 6,000 schools that participated in Teaching Tolerance’s Mix It Up at Lunch Day Program, an effort to break down the barriers between students so there are fewer misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment. Edison will be recognized on the Teaching Tolerance website as Mix It Up Model Schools at http://www.tolerance.org/mix-it-up/model-schools.

On Mix It Up Day in November 2013, Edison held a school-wide assembly where Dr. Mykee Fowlin, a psychologist and actor, encouraged students to be more than tolerant – to be empathetic and to be friends.  Following the assembly, teacher-facilitated discussion groups took place when students reported to their regularly scheduled classes.

Lunchtime took on a festive atmosphere as student leaders from the school’s TLRNC group (Teens Learning Respect ‘N Compassion) and the Student Government Association led games and encouraged conversation at grade level tables in the cafeteria.  After lunch, the entire student body and staff participated in team-building games, mixing students from the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  The day ended with more than 850 students and staff breaking out in dance.

In notifying Edison of its distinction, the Director of the Teaching Tolerance Project, Maureen Costello, wrote, “In today’s polarized world, it’s refreshing to see schools that are doing extraordinary things to encourage students, faculty and staff to cross the social boundaries that so often divide us. By recognizing these schools and calling attention to their great work, we hope that other schools will follow their lead.”

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