The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program has named the Tucker Adult Transition Program as a Mix It Up Model School for its exemplary efforts to nurture respect and understanding among its students.
Tucker Transition is a post-high-school program for students ages 18 to 22 who have special needs. The school is among 104 schools nationwide to receive the honor.
“We are delighted to recognize the Tucker Adult Transition Program,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “Mix It Up Model Schools have found innovative ways to create school environments where respect and inclusiveness are core values. They all serve as great examples of how a school – any school – can cultivate these values among their students, faculty and staff.”
The Teaching Tolerance program has promoted Mix It Up at Lunch Day for the past 14 years to help students understand the importance of respecting each other’s differences.
Mix It Up at Lunch Day is a simple call to action. By asking students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch, the event encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off yearlong explorations of social divisions.
The Mix It Up Model Schools met five criteria. They each hosted a Mix it Up at Lunch Day during the 2014-15 school year; they included different members of the school’s community – cafeteria staff, aides, administrators, teachers and students – in organizing the event; they followed up with at least two additional Mix It Up-related programs or events on campus; they publicized Mix It Up at Lunch Day or celebrated inclusiveness with posters, announcements and other media; and their event was seen by students and school officials as a success.
In preparation for Mix It Up, students at Tucker learned about diversity with lessons from the Teaching Tolerance website (tolerance.org). Organizers invited participants from the school, district and community, including children and staff from Tucker’s Medical Therapy Unit and Community Day Class. In addition to eating lunch together during the event, students and guests received inspirational bracelets, played basketball and handball, and danced to Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens and the Gipsy Kings.
Tucker Transition also earned the honor in 2012.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination.