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Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant

At HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools, we know that the important work we do in schools would not be possible without an incredibly dedicated group of individuals: educators. We provide the training and resources, but it is teachers who ensure that classrooms and schools that are safe, welcoming and inclusive for all children and families.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Welcoming Schools staff -- including directors, expert trainers, consultants and facilitators across the country -- reflect on what makes the teachers who participate in our program so special:

“I am grateful for teachers who may not know the first thing about the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation, yet are willing to ask for help and learn what they can do support a student who is transitioning and their family. Additionally, I deeply appreciate teachers who advocate for all students -- even when they don’t know how their inclusive actions will be received by some parents or administrators.”
— Johanna Eager, Welcoming Schools Program Director
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

“I appreciate the hopefulness of teachers in our program who work for a better world every day. I appreciate how they care about and support each other to grow and become better at social justice work. We all have different areas of expertise, and everyone helps each other know about resources and approaches. I appreciate their time, their hearts and their love for children and families.”
— Michele Hatchell, Welcoming Schools Expert Trainer
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

“I appreciate that the teachers are so dedicated to thoughtfully serving the children in their care.”
— Tracy Flynn, Welcoming Schools Facilitator
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

“I am continually impressed by the dedication and passion of the teachers with whom I work. Their ability to connect with their students and provide them with the safe spaces they need to be themselves is inspiring. On a daily basis, they are finding creative ways to show their students that they are seen, heard and valued. These teachers — and their unrelenting devotion to making schools inclusive places for all to thrive — are making positive and lasting changes in the lives of our students and families and society as a whole.”
— Jennifer Herdina, Welcoming Schools Lead, Madison Metropolitan Schools District
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

“I am proud to work with educators who continue to grow and learn new things so that they can affirm all of their students.”
— Danielle Murray, Welcoming Schools Facilitator and Safe and Welcoming Schools Specialist, Boston Public Schools
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

“I appreciate teachers who have the personal and professional courage to create caring, ‘beloved’ communities in their classrooms, who use their personal resources to buy inclusive literature for their students, who prepare for Welcoming Schools lesson plans after hours and then deliver them in the ways that are best for the students they serve, and who advocate for trans and non-binary students to create what may be the only safe space for those students.”
— Toni Smith, Welcoming Schools Expert Trainer
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

On behalf of everyone at HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools, we offer our teachers our sincerest thanks for the work they do as change agents and the difference they make every day in the lives of the students in their care.

HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier professional development program providing training and resources to elementary school educators to:

  • Welcome diverse families;
  • Create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools;
  • Prevent bias-based bullying;
  • Support transgender and non-binary students.

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