Understanding How to Show Respect! 24/7

On October 17th, San Mateo County Office of Education hosted its 3rd annual Respect! 24/7 conference. This year the theme was Inclusive and Resilient Communities, and keynote speaker, Micah Jacobson of The Boomerang Project, truly reminded all of the teachers, administrators, and educational advocates of what it felt like to time-warp back into middle school life. Through Jacobson’s flawless character impersonations of past middle school peers, his vivid stories of how he felt being the new kid at a new school in his 8th grade year, and encouraging all of us attending the conference to strip ourselves of ego and slip into the vulnerability of being silly during certain interactive exercises, as well as bravely sharing intimate details of our personal goals and fears. By the time the first hour of the conference ended, we all understood the experience of creating a community through inclusiveness ad resiliency, and moved into participating even more gem-fill workshops on topics such as One Love: A Movement to End Relationship Abuse, presented by The One Love Foundation; Special Olympics Unified Strategy for Schools, presented by  the Special Olympics of Northern California; Suicide Prevention and Intervention in Schools, presented by Crisis Services of BHRS; Using restorative Practices in San Mateo-Foster City School District; and Youth Mental Health First Aid, presented by Office of Diversity and Equity of BHRS.

So, what does the phrase “inclusive and resilient communities” actually mean? The conference challenged our thinking that at one point in our lives we have endured feelings associated with simply being left out. This notion of shared understanding among the group is also the mindset that can be built-in to our students’ environment to help our youth acknowledge that we all have shared experiences.  If we all remain inclusive of one another we will be stronger and more resilient as a whole, especially when we need the support the most.

I assure you, words cannot fully describe the impact all the presenters and workshops had on the audience. If you were unable to attend this year’s Respect! 24/7 conference, I urge you to visit the San Mateo County Office of Education Respect! 24/7 initiative page, or follow San Mateo County Office of Education on Twitter @SMCOE to see updates on upcoming conferences and trainings!

by Chenece Blackshear, ODE Intern