The Kevin Pitts Buddy Bench will be built into the school culture over time through classroom programs and other school activities. To address this need, Central Elementary School is piloting a new “Firehawk Friends” program, where parent volunteers support teachers and staff in exploring and implementing Enhanced Education (EE) opportunities for social emotional learning, friendship, and inclusion.
Buddy Benches require an introductory assembly at the beginning of each school year, where teachers and staff demonstrate how to use the bench and explain the rules of the bench. Additionally, teachers provide in-classroom reminders throughout the year. Opportunities for such reminders present themselves naturally in the context of Central’s IB units and InFocus lessons — or alternatively, by reading or discussing a book related to friendship and inclusion.
Below are Firehawk Friends programs in progress:
Caring Collection: This special library collection will feature books that address caring and kindness topics (e.g. inclusion, social emotional learning, friendship, manners, diversity, family structures, cultures, autism, disabilities). These books will be utilized to implement a grade-level book program, where students read books throughout the year and complete discussion-based activities with their parents/guardians. This program highlights the importance of engaging parents.
A Central parent, a professional woodworker, has volunteered his time and talent to building a custom bookcase to house the collection. Another Central parent, a professional artist, has volunteered her time and talent to developing a mural to make the collection a centerpiece in the library.
Cultural Passport Program: Firehawk Friends is working with the City’s Multicultural Action Committee to launch a Cultural Passport program. This program fits well with Central’s IB programme, and it promotes a better understanding of the cultures living in our community. Students and their parents will receive a passport book that they can get stamped at cultural activities (i.e. Martin Luther King celebration, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Inclusive Communities, Day of the Dead, more) and/or when visiting cultural destinations throughout the city. Students (and a parent) will receive an award at the end-of-the-year award ceremony for completing the program together.
Annual Friendship Student Art Show: In collaboration with our art teacher Mr. Gage, Firehawk Friends plans to host an annual “Friendship” Art Show, where students contribute friendship-themed art to a larger school collage. The plan is to host the first annual art show to dedicate Kevin’s Buddy Bench at the start of the 2018/2019 school year.
To learn more about Kevin’s Buddy Bench and programming, visit the links below:
- Buddy Bench 101
- Firehawk Friends
- Social Emotional Learning at Central
- Buddy Bench Rules
- Kevin Pitts Memorial Buddy Bench Fund