Love and Justice

The inter­sec­tion of love and justice is an impor­tant space to hold together with our students. Many of the curric­u­lar areas and approaches we have always engaged with in well­ness – social justice, healthy commu­ni­ca­tion and consent, deci­sion making, human devel­op­ment and sexu­al­ity, commu­nity build­ing, healthy rela­tion­ships, mind­ful­ness, and many more – have a new home in the Love and Justice program. 

The elemen­tary school Love and Justice program is deliv­ered through our well­ness class. The curricu­lum covers a range of social, emotional, and health-related topics taught in devel­op­men­tally appro­pri­ate ways. Students learn about iden­tity, human devel­op­ment, build­ing commu­nity, and under­stand­ing systems through a social justice lens. 

In kinder­garten through 2nd grade, well­ness is taught as an eight-week unit that focuses on the themes of inclu­sion, gender, diver­sity, and body auton­omy. Students meet weekly to play, listen, explore, and discuss how these topics help us build a healthy commu­nity. Third grade Well­ness is taught as an eight-week unit that centers around the essen­tial ques­tion, How do we foster respect for ourselves and others?” The 3rd grade well­ness curricu­lum poses this essen­tial ques­tion to intro­duce students to the concepts of diver­sity, equity, and toler­ance. We discuss gender, gender expres­sion, and gender iden­tity through this lens. Students will begin explor­ing common stereo­types and media messages and brain­storm empow­er­ing strate­gies in order to be agents for change in their communities.

Fourth grade well­ness is taught in two units. The first unit focuses on inclu­sion and asks students to consider the ques­tion, How do we create inclu­sive commu­ni­ties?” The 4th grade class employs this essen­tial ques­tion to explore the concepts of diver­sity, equity, and toler­ance. We discuss gender, gender expres­sion, and gender iden­tity through this lens. Students will also crit­i­cally examine common stereo­types and media messages and brain­storm empow­er­ing strate­gies in order to be agents for change in their commu­ni­ties. Well­ness at Waverly is a contin­u­ous curricu­lum. To that end, the late spring unit of well­ness at the 4th grade level will also present intro­duc­tory lessons on puberty and human sexu­al­ity, topics that form the foun­da­tion for well­ness at the 5th/​6th level. Students in 4th grade will learn basic anatomy and phys­i­ol­ogy, an overview of the hormonal changes of puberty, and how to keep bodies safe and healthy.

The 5th/​6th well­ness curricu­lum covers a wide range of social, emotional, and health-related topics, and is taught on a bi-monthly basis through­out the year. The curricu­lum focuses first on areas of personal respon­si­bil­ity and commu­nity build­ing. Students ask the essen­tial ques­tions, How are we notic­ing differ­ence? How do we under­stand our own iden­ti­ties?” We discuss how to form and main­tain healthy rela­tion­ships, consider what it means to be an assertive commu­ni­ca­tor, and develop strate­gies for thought­ful deci­sion making. We prac­tice what it means to utilize those skills both at school and at large. From there, we move to a study and discus­sion of gender, iden­tity and expres­sion. Finally, we synthe­size these topics into a unit on human devel­op­ment and sexu­al­ity. Students will engage in joyful learn­ing about the phys­i­cal, cogni­tive, emotional, and social changes of puberty and the funda­men­tals of human sexu­al­ity. Pride, joy, and respect for our bodies, minds, and hearts are at the core of this curriculum. 

The Love and Justice compre­hen­sive sexual educa­tion curricu­lum relies on the work of Advo­cates for Youth, which is mapped to the National Sexu­al­ity Educa­tion Stan­dards, covers all 16 topics deemed essen­tial by the Centers for Disease Control and Preven­tion, is LGBTQ-inclu­sive, trauma informed, and cultur­ally respon­sive. The Love and Justice social justice curricu­lum relies on the work of Teach­ing Toler­ance, whose Social Justice stan­dards inform all curricu­lum at the elementary school. 

In the high school, Love and Justice classes meet by grade level on a weekly basis. Through a social justice lens, and informed by inter­per­sonal neuro­bi­ol­ogy, the Love and Justice program supports student under­stand­ing of self and commu­nity. Read more about the high school Love and Justice program here.