just start


“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

~ Martin Luther King Jr


In our first official act, the Inclusion Committee has established a column in our school’s newsletter. OK, so I carved it out of the Parent’s Advisory Council Liaison’s column. Which wasn’t that hard to do because I’m the Parents Advisory Council Liaison and it was my column. But stay with me, folks. I’m building to something here.

Have you heard about the Inclusion Committee?

30 members strong and growing, the Inclusion Committee is a wonderful and dynamic mix of parents, teachers and staff members. The committee works to raise awareness about what it means to be an inclusive community and how each of us can play a role in fostering an environment of tolerance, compassion and understanding for all.

We are already working on the planning for our school-wide celebration of Inclusive Schools Week in December. Volunteers are welcome! Contact Jess at (my e-mail) for more details.

On the day that we started this thing, I was chatting back and forth with my friend (and first official volunteer!), Deb via e-mail. During that exchange, she wrote something to me that simply begged to be shared. It was an emotional plea, a call to action and an instruction manual all in one. It started with the words, ‘Here’s what I want to say to parents”.

And it sparked an idea.

Your submissions wanted!!!

We are thrilled to announce a new format for our little space here in the Newsletter. We want to hear from you! We will be highlighting submissions from the entire school community that answer one of two questions:

What does inclusion mean to you?


What would you like your community to know?

We are seeking submissions from parents, students, teachers and staff. By definition, inclusion INCLUDES all of us!!

Please send your submissions via e-mail to (my e-mail) with ‘newsletter’ in the subject line. Due to limited space, some submissions may not be published, but please don’t be discouraged. We will do our best!

And now, without further adieu .. our first submission comes from a parent of three (of our school’s) students and answers the question What would you like your community to know?


Think back to when you were in elementary school. Everyone can remember that one kid … the awkward one … the one who may have talked differently, or looked different, or had unusual habits. And everyone can remember at least one time either watching or even participating in a moment of unkindness, or excluding, or giggling, or just avoidance.

None of us could know then what a parent’s love for a child felt like. Imagine how the parents of that child from elementary school felt seeing their baby being treated poorly by peers. Think of the pain and isolation of not only the child, but of the parents as well – neighbors, even friends.

Well there are many more kids with “differences” now. There is NO ONE whose child is not affected. If you are not the parent of a child with “differences” you are absolutely the parent of a child who has classmates with “differences”.  The teachers can not be role models of compassion in a vacuum.  Fear of differences is powerful.

If an invitation to a birthday party or a play date feels too big … start with a simple conversation. Start with asking your child to give someone outside of their circle of friends a turn in their game, extend a compliment, a gesture or even a smile.

Just start.

I told you it begged to be shared.

14 thoughts on “just start

  1. Not only did it beg to be shared but you made the sharing possible, while opening the dialogue within the community. You Rock Jess!

  2. This is one of my favorite quotes. You are a ripple of hope.

    “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

    — Robert F. Kennedy

  3. Wow. That friend of yours is a powerful writer. She expresses something so big so simply! Of course, she keeps good company with you.

  4. It’s interesting how well I remember the kids with “differences” from my school days. How I wish I could go back and be better to them. This inclusion committee is so very important – may the kids at this school grow up and have no regrets about how they treated one another.

  5. “Striving for perfection is the greatest stopper there is…It’s your excuse to yourself for not doing anything. Instead, strive for excellence, doing your best”

    -Sir Laurence Olivier

    I decided to print this quote and post it prominently in my office (a place where perfection haunts me daily). In a stroke of irony, when I picked it up off the printer I realized that this was a “recycled” piece of paper and there was a mark on it that didn’t belong there. As I though about printing a new one, I decided to leave it alone. Perfection not necessary – clearly illustrated. Just start.

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