All students and their families deserve to have access to a safe and respectful school environment where they feel recognized, valued, and supported. Incidences of bullying can be prevented through implementing a proactive approach which includes social-emotional learning, recognizing the importance of relationships, and fostering inclusiveness. Research supports the fact that an “optimal” school climate is a pre-cursor to “optimal” student achievement. The Operation Respect/Welcoming Schools initiative has been implemented in 39 K-12 schools in Clark County School District for the purpose of improving school environments for students, families, and educators.
An important core belief of the project is that harmful stereotypes and prejudices must be dispelled to promote a climate:
- that infuses a sense of belonging for all;
- encourages kindness and empathy;
- fosters respect;
- and honors diversity.
The public-private partnership is a collaborative effort of The Public Education Foundation; Clark County School District’s Equity and Diversity Education Department; Operation Respect; the Human Rights Campaign Foundation: Welcoming Schools Project; the Kish Foundation; and Teaching Tolerance. R&R Partners Foundation also provides special projects and resources for some of the participating schools.
Operation Respect/Welcoming Schools establishes school leadership teams; provides professional development and suggestions for family engagement; offers ideas for school-wide, classroom, and extracurricular activities; implements school-wide policies; and ensures that informal curriculum sends appropriate messages.